Vetiver in Carbon Sequestration

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

As evidence mounts on the effect of the increased amounts of carbon dioxide on global warming, the world looks for alternative methods to mitigate the problem. Because of its longevity and extraordinary root mass, Vetiver is becoming one of the leading contenders for carbon sequestration. This bioengineering application of Vetiver accomplishes the long-term storage of carbon dioxide or other forms of carbon through biological processes. With Vetiver, carbon products are extracted from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and stored permanently in its root mass.

An article published in the September issue of Current Science titled Sequestration of atmospheric carbon into subsoil horizons through deep-rooted grasses – Vetiver Grass Model (PDF) , states in its preamble:

Choosing the strategies to mitigate global warming should envisage sustenance of soil carbon sink, and also long-term locking of excess carbon deep into the soil horizon. Fast growing grasses with penetrating deep root system would facilitate long-term locking of atmospheric carbon below plough layer with reduced chances of being recycled to atmosphere and recuperate soil carbon sink. Vetiver, a non-invasive C4 grass with fast-growing tufted root system, reaching 3 m just in one year could be an ideal global candidate with a holding potential of 1 kg atmospheric carbon, sequestered annually deep into the soil pool from one sq metre surface area.
Another document from the European Union, Climate change: Commission dishes the dirt on the importance of soil (PDF), raises a red flag about damaging the remaining carbon reservoirs by not protecting Europe's forests and peat bogs. You can read about the complete European Union thematic strategy on soils in the pages from the European Commission.

In tropical and subtropical climates, Vetiver is a clear alternative for increasing these carbon storages, while at the same time providing a soil conservation and stabilization solution in many scenarios. We can all do our part by using and promoting Vetiver in our homes and neighborhoods, and encouraging our USA government agencies to catch up with the rest of the world.

Client Profile - Vetiver on the Turabo River, Caguas, PR

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Quick, find 4800 Vetiver plants in this picture of the Turabo River in Caguas, Puerto Rico! Well, installing them in this dry fill under an unrelenting midday sun was not much easier, but project engineer Kenneth Vélez and the hardy folks of contractor RO Rental Equipment completed the job on 9/15/2009. This project, coming to completion with this vegetative reinforcement, was undertaken by the Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources under the management of engineer Ramona Paris.

This ambitious proj
ect has repaired and reinforced the river's channel at a point where it makes a sharp turn in the Villa del Rey neighborhood. The path of this river was altered substantially during the 1960's when previously agricultural lands became a residential community. Ever since, the river has fought back by overflowing its bank at this turn and reclaiming some of its space.

Most of the Vetiver plants supplied by Agriflora Tropicals for this project were used to create a double hedge along the top edge of
the gabion structure. This 1060 ft (323 meters) edge will be under frequent attack by the rising river water on one side and the heavy flows or rain water from the land side. The Vetiver hedges will anchor this soil and protect the stucture from being undermined from the top.

Beyond the end of the gabion structure, a small Vetiver patch has been planted
to evaluate its behavior when battered directly by the river's current. This small 10 ft by 33 ft strip sits at the frontline of the dike's battle with the river flow. Small as it is, it could play an important role defending the front edge of the structure from the force of the water trying to work its way under the structure.

The soil and sun conditions that these plants will face can not get much worse. Regular irrigation and fertilization during the first few months must be provided diligently. Given this, I trust my plants will be up to the task . . . that's what I train them for. :-)

A full set of geotagged pictures can be seen in the Picasa album Vetiver on the Turabo River.

Vetiver on Turabo River - Caguas, PR

Agriflora Tropicals in the News

Monday, September 14, 2009

In case you missed it - and you probably did, we made the Business section of Sunday's El Nuevo Dia newspaper. Even if the title of "Productor Mundial de la Planta de Vetiver" (Worldwide Grower of Vetiver Plants) stretches reality to the point of no return, it was very flattering to see our Vetiver production highlighted and praised by this, the largest circulation newspaper on the island. The write-up even earned us a "well done" on TV and radio by Boricuazo, the herald of positive news in Puerto Rico.

The USA, and consequently Puerto Rico, are badly lagging in the application of the Vetiver plant in soil conservation and other bioengineering applications. For the last two years, we have strived to make Vetiver easily accesible to anyone that can benefit from it. Today, the Internet provides the tools to achieve that. Our blog, The Vetiver Solutions Blog, as an information resource, and our store Agriflora T
ropicals as a shopping venue are helping to develop the critical mass of Vetiver followers that will cause the government agencies to specify the use of Vetiver as an erosion control measure more often.

We thank the newspaper reporter, Aura N. Alfaro, and El Nuevo Dia for helping us get the message out. You can read her full article in Spanish here.

Vetiver Plants - When Bigger is not Better

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

At our Internet retail store, Agriflora Tropicals, we offer plants that will work well in all soil conservation applications requiring a vegetative solution. We discussed the basic rules of the Vetiver System in an early blog titled How Do I Use The Vetiver System? that answers the most frequent questions of first-time users.

We were recently approached by a contractor looking for Vetiver plants in one-gallon pots. They were seeking plant material for a project where plants had been specified to be of this size. If small Vetiver plants were so good, starting with a larger plant had to be better and quicker, right? Alas, once agai
n, the "bigger is better" myth is proved wrong.

The attached picture from Malaysia shows a plant grown in a large polybag and transplanted to the ground as a
n adult plant. Dug out some months later, we can see that the original center of the plant
never developed deep roots. Even with proper irrigation and application of fertilizers, the center roots th
at were bag-bound became senescent and did not regenerate.

Vetiver roots grow and penetrate the soil by creating new tillers and roots around the original slip or small plant once it is set on the ground. The roots of a small plant will extend like curtain layers from that center and secure the soil starting right at the center. A root-bound large plant will grow with a weak center that will never provide the needed soil anchoring. When set side-by-side in a slope, the resulting hedge will not provide the desired support and the results could be catastrophic.

Transplanting large, root-bound plants from bags or pots to save time is not cost-effective and is not the recommended technique of the Vetiver System. Save your large plants for landscaping projects or, better yet, use them to propagate new, stronger plants.

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