Vetiver in East China Highway Conference

The East China Highway Conference was held in Xiamen of Fujian
Province, on 8-11 June. There were 60 participants coming from Jiangxi,
Jiangsu, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Shandong, Fujian, Anhui Provinces. They were
highway bureau officials, engineers, and university professors, and
vocational school teachers. Some came from highway planning and design
institutes, and highway maintenance departments. The main topic of the
conference was the highway greenization. Mr Liyu Xu, coordinator of China
Vetiver Network, was invited to attend the conference. A paper titled
Vetiver for Highway Stabilization and Greenization which was prepared
jointly by engineers from Jiangsu Highway Bureau and Jiangsu Communications
Planning and Designing Academy was presented during conference accompanied
by a set of slides. He introduced the vetiver application in Malaysia,
Thailand, Australia, and in China in particular. Since 1989, vetiver
technology has been introduced to highway departments in Guangdong and
Fujian Provinces. It was shown that the grass played an important role in
highway stabilization in mountainous area, which covers around 70% of
southern part of the country. Since then more and more engineers from both
highway and railway got involving in vetiver.
During the conference, most of the participants felt fresh to hear about
the grass. The vetiver technology generated great interests in the meeting
and the participants hoped to get more information. The engineers from
Fujian, Anhui, and Jiangsu Provinces decided to test vetiver grass for
their newly built highways.

International Meeting
It was suggested that an international meeting on the application of
vetiver technology for highway stabilization be held in late 1999 in order
to invite more engineers to involve in the technology and to reduce
expenses used for stabilization with engineering measure instead of
biological means which can not only protect highway from soil erosion
damage but also protect environment. The participants realized that vetiver
could be a hot topic among engineers, as during the period from 1994-1996
there was 34,000 km of highway constructed in the country, many of these
need to be protected and greenized.

South China Water and Soil Conservation Meeting
South China Water and Soil Conservation Meeting Held in Xiamen
Organized by South China Water and Soil Conservation Association,
the South China Water and Soil Conservation Meeting was Held in Xiamen on
10-12 June 1998. About 80 participants mostly from provinces in south China
attended the meeting. Mr Liyu Xu, coordinator of China Vetiver Network, and
his colleague Ms Zhang Jing were invited to attend the meeting. Mr Xu
introduced the recent development of China Vetiver Network and the
applications of vetiver technology for engineering purpose. The very good
examples generated by Ms Zhangjing in Fujian Province were introduced, e.g.
vetiver technology for the protection of coastal dikes, river banks, fish
pond, and vetiver for sand dune stabilization, saline soil amelioration,
and edible fungi cultivation, etc. Following national economic reform many
new constructions were carried out, which caused serious new soil erosion
and became a key issue in soil erosion control in the country.

Jiji Grass
In the meeting, Mr liyu also introduced jiji cao (Achnatherum
splendens), a grass similar to vetiver but tolerant extremely draught and
  • its natural habitat is the saline soils in northwest China such as
    inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Xinjiang Provinces. When planted on upland soils
    (such as the Loess soils) it grows extremely well.
  • Like vetiver it also belongs to Gramineae, some farmers in
    northern Shanxi use it to stabilize the vertical cutsmade in the hill slopes
    above their houses to prevent slippage and damage to the house.
  • The grass has strong, deep (at least 3 meters), and profuse roots.
    It is completely drought proof, and withstands EXTREME COLD.
    It has good longevity and is usually propagated vegetatively by
    plant division and is not invasive.
  • The grass was used also to feed animals with young leaves, to
    make basket, broom, mattress, rope, curtain, shed roof
    cover, and medicine for piles treatment. And also, it was
    used for pulp purpose and for highway stabilization.
The jiji grass appears to have many similarities to vetiver grass,
although there are some very distinct differences, including a less dense
and weaker leaf system. However there are enough similarities, as well as
farmer experience and knowledge, to suggest that jiji grass could be key to
long term embankment stabilization (terrace, dams, and roads) in north
China if planted as a closely spaced inline hedgerows across the slope of
embankment as has been widely proven for vetiver. It also may well be
possible to use it as an effective contour hedgerow on unterraced sloping
land. The China Vetiver Network's newsletters and fact sheets will include
information on jiji grass. Some experiments will be arranged in Shanxi,
Inner Mongolia, and Ningxia in Loess Plateau shortly just before the
raining season. Demonstrations will be established in cooperation with
county or township extension stations and master farmers as well.
During the meeting a recognized expert Dr Mien-chun Liao from
Taiwan pointed out that it was very necessary to use biological measure to
protect earth terrace which was not protected by stone. The grasses will
be very useful for terrace stabilization.