Vetiver as Part of a Pest Management System

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

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Pest management is the science of preventing, suppressing, or eradicating biological organisms that are causing a problem. The term "Integrated Pest Management" (IPM), implies integration of approaches and methods into a pest management system, which takes into consideration the ecology of the environment and all relevant interactions that pest management practices may have upon the environment in which one or more pest problems may exist. When IPM principles are applied to a given pest problem, it is generally assumed that environmental impact and economic risks have been minimized. Since IPM considers all applicable methods, it is also assumed that emphasis on chemical methods may be reduced when effective non-chemical alternative methods are available.

The use of Vetiver as part of a management system falls into the realm of "Cultural and Mechanical" practices that that can be quick, safe, and economical to implement for the protection of many agricultural crops. Trials in Ethiopia and South Africa with the control of stem borers and nematodes have been very successful.

Depending of the environment, Vetiver can act both as a trap crop around the perimeter of a produce field, and as an underground physical barrier against nematodes and termites. In some areas the plants are allowed to grow tall and serve as wind barriers protecting more delicate crops. For many farmers, the introduction of Vetiver into their practices also provides the solution to soil erosion problems that threaten to severely reduce the productivity of many soils.

Vetiver alone is not enough to control pests. A complete management plan must be devised depending on the objectives that may include chemical controls - but hopefully in a much lesser scale.

For additional information and pictures, see this PowerPoint presentation by Johnnie van den Berg from the School of Environmental Sciences and Development of Northwest University in South Africa: Vetiver as a Component of a Pest Management System.

Vetiver Manual in Spanish

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

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Statistics about readers of this blog obtained from Google tools indicate that we now have readers in over 50 countries around the world. A good number of these readers include Spanish speakers from Spain and Latin American countries that are making great progress in the adoption of Vetiver bioengineering practices. Abundant documentation regarding Vetiver grass and the Vetiver System is available for English speaking readers at the web site of The Vetiver Network International, but good documentation in Spanish, however, is scattered, and somewhat difficult to locate.

Our good friend
Joachim Boehnert, associate director of The Vetiver Network for Latin America, made me aware of an excellent document by Dr. Julio Alegre Orihuela, researcher and teacher at the Universidad Nacional Agraria la Molina in Lima, Peru. His study, Manual sobre el uso y manejo del gras Vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides) has 37 pages of excellent information and photos that should prove very valuable to our Spanish readers. This document can be downloaded here.

We also encourage our Latin American readers to join the discussion group Red Vetiver Latina, coordinated by Joachim Boehnert. This site provides the means for Spanish speakers to network and exchange information and stories on the many projects in Latin America.

We thank both of these capable professionals for their contributions on this subject.

Ethiopia Vetiver System - Conference Proceedings

Friday, April 3, 2009

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Dick Grimshaw, Chairman of The Vetiver Network International (TVNI), has just returned from a ten day visit to Ethiopia. The highlight of his trip was his attendance and participation in a three day workshop titled “The Vetiver System for Soil & Water Conservation, Environmental Protection, and Land Rehabilitation in Ethiopia”. This workshop, held March 16-18, 2009, was organized by the Ethiopian Sustainable Land Use Forum (SLUF).

The aim of the workshop was scaling up the use of the Vetiver System (VS) for soil and water conservation, environmental rehabilitation, soil stabilization, protection of infrastructures, and mitigation of climate change in Ethiopia. Some 160 people participated from a wide range of agencies, government, NGO, and the private sector.

The photo dramatically shows about a meter of soil accumulation behind an 11 year old hedgerow. In these areas soil loss has been reduced bymore than 90%, and rainfall runoff by as much as 70%. Ethiopian corn farmers have reported crop yield increases of 30% to 50% using the Vetiver System to improve their fields.

Ethiopia has made significant progress in the introduction of Vetiver bioengineering. Today, it is a world leader in the Vetiver System application. There was pretty good agreement of the value of the Vetiver System as was very nicely demonstrated by the Ethiopian presentations dealing with Soil and Water Conservation based on some 20 years experience with the Vetiver grass technology. It is expected that VS will now be scaled up in Ethiopia and will be applied to other sectors apart from agriculture. Lessons learned from the workshop could and should be applied widely in most countries in the tropics and semi-tropics that depend on rain fed agriculture if crop productivity is to be maintained.

You can download the Workshop Summary and view all the proceedings, both PowerPoint presentations and abstracts via this Workshop Proceedings Index. The page for this and prior conferences around the world are in TVNI’s Conference Proceedings page.

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