Vetiver grass - Chrysopogon zizanioides - is a tropical clump grass with origin in south India. It has the ability, when planted close together in a line, to create a near perfect barrier that filters out sediment, spreads rainwater, improves the shear strength of soil, and recycles soil nutrients. Vetiver has a wide range of applications, and the common domesticated cultivars used around the world are non-invasive. The plant will virtually grow anywhere except where the winter temperatures result in perma-frost and summers are too mild. Thus it main areas of growth are in the tropics and semi tropics, Mediterranean climates, and in arid regions (when there is available supplementary wate). Its primary uses are for soil and water conservation, soil fertility enhancement, bio-engineeering, phytoremediation of contaminated land and water, disaster mitigation, and a biproduct supply for forage, fuel, handicrafts, and perfumary. It also sequesters significant quantities oif atmospheric carbon.
Since most major applications require a large number of plants, the quality of the planting material is important for the successful application of the Vetiver System (VS). This requires nurseries capable of producing large quantities of high quality, low cost plant materials. The exclusive use of only sterile vetiver cultivars (C. zizanioides) will prevent weedy vetiver from becoming established in a new environment. DNA tests prove that the sterile vetiver cultivar used around the world is genetically similar to Sunshine and Monto cultivars, both of which originate in southern India. Given its sterility, this vetiver must be propagated vegetatively.
TECHNICAL HANDBOOK. This handbook extracted from "The Vetiver System - A Technical Reference Manual by Paul Truong, Tran Tan Van and Ellise Pinners. Quick download and in full color. Vetiver System - Vetiver Grass - Plant Propagation (html with images). Read more. The full range of vetiver technical publications are downloadable.
A useful plant guide, particularly for US users of the Vetiver System, published by USDA/NRCS provides background to the plants non-invasiveness, its uses, propagation and management.
The Vetiver System has come a long way over the past 20 years and there are a lot of users applying the technology for different purposes. We know that most users, once using it correctly, are avid fans of the technology. The question is "why are not more people using the technology"? "Why is it not being used at an accelerated rate" or is it? Here is a summary of responses from around the world.
There is a nice video by Alberto Rodriguez of VetiverSolutions who put together images from Fernando Costa Pinto of Brazil show the excavation to 4 meters of a vetiver grass clump and roots - some job!!
A useful report on 40 years of use of VS for soil erosion control on steep slopes in Fiji. Report by Paul Tuong and Colin Creighton
A Wall Street Journal article published on August 22nd 2007 by Susan Warren. "Found in the Weeds: Bug Scientist Touts Cure for Levee Leaks" once again raises the issue as to whether Vetiver grass might be invasive. Recently the Pacific Island Ecosystem at Risk (PIER) carried out a new risk assessment of non fertile Vetiver grass cultivars from south India that are typified by Sunshine (US) and Monto (Australia) genotypes. Vetiver grass, Chrysopogon zizanioides, a.k.a. Vetiveria zizanioides is rated minus eight (-8). This rating is based on Australian/New Zealand weed risk assessment protocol, modified for Hawaii. It is a very strict and thorough protocol. You can find the details of the PIER vetiver assessment here.
An informative Guide prepared by Prepared by Oahu Resource Conservation and Development Council in cooperation with USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Pacific Islands Area. Also prepared for O'ahu Resource Conservation & Development by theAgribusiness Incubator Program University of Hawaii. This report sets out production and application costs of for a country with high labor costs such as the US. It also discusses marketing possibilities. Some of the data and assumptions are of course questionable, but the document provides a useful base to develope a cost/production model for individual entrepreneurs.
Mechanical planter for vetiver. The Australians modified a vegetable planter for the planting of vetiver: See moe
Vetiver System and Fire. Vetiver will survive very hot fires and will recover quickly to continue being an effective erosion barrier and slope stabilizer. The images include pictures from Austalia, Malaysia, Vanuatu, and the most recent fires in California.
A photo gallery of Vetiver Roots and their uses by Paul Truong.
This useful list of vetiver names has been compiled by Narong Chomchalow of Thailand. If anyone has additional names please email NarongFrom the Domanican Republic, Gueric Boucard shows how he has used vetiver as feed stock for his commercial boiler.