The Vetiver Network International

International Vetiver Workshop in Fuzhou, China (1997) – abstracts

International Vetiver Workshop in Fuzhou, China
Vetiver Research and Development


Editors: Xu Liyu and Charles (Todd) Chirko              Organized by: China Vetiver Network

 Sponsored by:

The World BankThe Vetiver Network

Chinese Academy of Sciences

National Natural Science Foundation of China]

Water and Soil Conservation Committee of Fujian

Water and Soil Conservation Station of Fujian Province

Institute of Soil Science


Part I. General Introduction

Part II. Adaptability and Utilization

Part III. Ecological Effect and Erosion Prevention

Part IV. Introduction, Planting and Perspective

Part V. Planned Program


Part I. General Introduction


The Vetiver Network and Its Activities World Wide

Dick Grimshaw

(The Coordinator, The Vetiver Network, USA)

The Vetiver Network has been instrumental in disseminating information, world wide, on vetiver grass technology used for soil and water conservation as well as for land rehabilitation and stabilization. It disseminates information through newsletters and a home page on the world wide web. In this past year (1996) the Vetiver Network has supported the establishment of five new regional networks and two national networks. These networks will play an important role in vetiver technology dissemination. The Vetiver Network has supported a number of NGOs and other groups to develop vetiver operations in the field, primarily with small farmer groups. The Vetiver Network has been able to provide this support through its special funds amounting to about $500,000. The Vetiver Network will seek more funds from international donors so as to assist others in establishing new networks.

 Recent Development of Vetiver Technology in China through the China Vetiver Network

Xu LiYu

(The China Vetiver Network, NanJing 210008)

Although it was introduced into China as early as the 1950’s as a plant for extracting oil from its roots the valuable grass vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides) was also identified in the late 1980’s as a plant to assist the formation of soil erosion control hedges. Since the 1980’s, vetiver grass has been experimented with or tested in most provinces in southern China, as in JiangXi, FuJian, SiChuan, HuNan, GuiZhou, HaiNan, GuangDong, GanSu, HeNan, ShanDong, and ZheJiang. Recently, great progress has been made in accelerating vetiver technology extension throughout China. This work was coordinated by the China Vetiver Network (CVN) in cooperation with numerous institutions in various disciplines. Some examples of work conducted by the CVN include:

(1). National information service. The national information service focused attention on the southern part of China where tropical and subtropical climates dominated. The vetiver publications (newsletters, fact sheets, and a journal) were distributed to many national universities, research institutions, government offices, provincial institutions, and also many county level and some township level extension stations.

(2). Field surveys and investigations. Aimed at disseminating vetiver technology, discovering new users and exploring new vetiver applications, field surveys and investigations were carried out in FuJian, JiangXi, GuangDong, HuBei, HuNan, and AnHui Provinces. These investigations were organized by the China Vetiver Network in cooperation with numerous multi-disciplinary institutions at national, provincial, prefectural, county, and township levels. Through these investigations team members learnt experiences from established vetiver application models and proposed new applications. In addition, with the distribution of more and more publications and with increasing discussion among vetiver extensionists, local technicians and farmers, more people were becoming familiar with vetiver grass.

(3) Supporting partners to test vetiver grass. The China Vetiver Network has supported partners who tested and utilized vetiver grass by providing micro-grants and information services. The followings are some examples:

— The FuZhou Soil and Water Conservation Station, FuJian Province

— The Botanical Institute of South China, GuangDong

— The reproduction base in the DaBie Mountains, AnHui Province

(4). Encouraging different institutions to use vetiver. Since the establishment of the CVN in 1996, more and more people expressed their interests in applying vetiver grass based on their own budget and existing project conditions. The CVN has provided them with information, documents, and/or planting materials and encouraged them to use and extend vetiver grass technology.

(5). Preparation of new development proposals through joint efforts. Based on multiple surveys, investigations and exchange programs, several proposals or concept papers were prepared. These played and will continue to play an important role in accelerating the dissemination and development of vetiver technology throughout the country and will keep the CVN young and vigorous.

 Natural Vetiver Communities Distributed in China

Xia HanPing and Ao HuiXiu

(South China Institute of Botany, Academia Sinica, GuangZhou 510650)

Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides), an excellent hedgerow for soil and moisture conservation, is being widely disseminated and applied in the tropics and sub-tropics. Generally speaking, China’s vetiver was introduced in the middle 1950s from Indonesia and India. The Vetiver Network has never reported any wild vetiver distribution in China, nor have any of the pertinent monographs. Our investigations, however, indicate that there have been natural distributions of vetiver communities in GuangDong and HaiNan Provinces.

As early as 1936, a botanist named Liu XinQi collected wild vetiver samples in HaiNan, and specimens have been preserved in the Herbarium of the South China Institute of Botany(SCIB). Later, in 1960, ecologists from SCIB made a survey of vegetation types in HaiNan and found natural distributions of the plant near lagoons.

A natural vetiver community with a total area of about 6,667 ha. (100,000 MU) was also found in WuChuan County of GuangDong by the same scientists in 1957 when they conducted a provincial vegetation survey. The community was situated on an alluvial plain at the juncture of 3 counties, WuChuan, MaoMing, and DianBai, within the lower reaches of the JianJiang River. This was a hygrophytic-mesophytic tropical grassland, that flooded from April through September, and was dry from October to March. During the flood period, the whole plain was inundated, while during the drought, it became an ideal place for a large multitude of Emberiza aureoba to live through the winter.

In the 1950’s, the local people utilized the vetiver community mainly for forage and thatch, which did not alter its composition. Later, utilization and development through human activities created tangibly severe changes. These activities included digging up vetiver roots for refining oil in the 1960’s, building canals and dams in the 1970’s, and especially large scale reclaimation for fishponds and residential areas since the 1980’s. Thus, the whole grassland ecosystem has seriously deteriorated over the past 40 years. The remaining area consists only of several hundred hectares, its landscape has become discrete pieces; and vetiver coverage has dwindled from 30-40% in the 1950’s to 10-15% even lower by May 1997. Obviously, the precious wetlands will be completely obliterated due to excessive development if not protected at once.

In order to preserve the highly valuable plant and germplasm resources of vetiver, therefore it is suggested that a reserve should be immediately delineated in the largest original native habitat of vetiver, WuChuan of GuangDong. If this is established, then the valuable local resources, such as Emberiza aureoba mentioned above and the vetiver ecological environment with its biodiversity will be effectively conserved. In addition it will provide it provide a perfect base for carrying out studies on wetlands and biodiversity in South China.

 Vetiver Grass: Research and Extention

Yan LiJiao, Zheng ZhiMing and Wang ZhaoQian

(Institute of Agricultural Ecology, ZheJiang University of Agriculture, HangZhou 310029, China)

Qian JianDong, Xu QinLao and Jia XiangChi

(JinHua City Office of Red Earth, ZheJiang Province, JinHua 321000, China)

  According to worldwide investigations and experiments, vetiver grass, a perennial that originated in tropical and subtropical areas such as India, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, is considered a useful plant for soil erosion control. It reproduces mostly by vegetative means. With a 3 m long, thick and intertwining root system, the 2 m high grass is able to fix the soil tightly. Besides having great endurance to drought, waterlogging, high temperature and cold, the grass is easy to plant and manage and grows well in any type of soil, in high latitudes (up to 42 degree N), at high altitudes (up to 2,600 m) and on steep slopes (up to 31degree ). Vetiver planted on sloping land functions well in soil erosion control by slowing down runoff and reducing soil losses. Planted on dikes along ditches it helps to prevent the dikes from collapse and to minimize siltation.

Vetiver planted on river banks, pond dikes and reservoir embankments may control embankment erosion and mud siltation. Even when planted on a roadside it may help to consolidate the road base. Experience in India showed that vetiver hedgerows may help to reduce runoff by 30-47%, to decrease alluvial sand discharge by 43-74% and consequently to increase cereal yield by 6-26%. Experiments in Malaysia showed that compared with a control, runoff and soil loss in sites with vetiver grass decreased by 73% and 93% respectively. People in India began using vetiver in soil erosion control about 200 years ago. However, the Indian people only started their research on the effectiveness of vetiver for soil erosion control a little more than 10 years ago. Inspite of this they still remain first in the world in this research fields. Due to the recommendation of Mr. R. G. Grimshaw Director of the Agricultural Technology Division, Asian Technology Bureau of the World Bank, vetiver technology was introduced into China and initially applied to the red earth projects in JiangXi and FuJian Provinces in early 1989. Later, the technology was extended to HuNan, ZheJiang, SiChuan, HaiNan and GuiZhou Provinces. Today more multidisplinary research and extension work remains to be done. With the collaboration of technicians and farmers more scientific data and technical support can be provided for further extensive application of vetiver technology. More demonstrations in hilly or mountainous areas are needed to show farmers the effectiveness of vetiver on soil erosion control and on the growth of crops.

 Distribution and Potential of Vetiver Grass

in Bangladesh

Dr. M. Matiur Rahman

(Director Bangladesh National Herbarium, VARC Complex, Farmgate,


  This paper presents the findings of a survey on vetiver grass in Bangladesh during a fifteen-month period in 1995/96. The survey records information on the ecological distribution, morphological variation, and the present use of vetiver grass obtained on study visits to all of the 64 districts in Bangladesh. The study indicates that the only species found in Bangladesh is Vetiveria zizanioides (L.) Nash, and it is very common in a variety of habitats. Three botanical “forms” of vetiver have been identified though no ecotypic variation has been found. Several large areas dominated by vetiver grass have been identified. The present findings reveal that vetiver grass has many traditional uses including its great potential for use as a vegetative means of protection on river and coastal embankments in Bangladesh.

Vetiver Extension Methods in E1 Salvador*

Ricardo Hernandez, William McDowell and Joaquin Santamaria

  E1 Salvador is a Central American country with a high population density (270 people/km2), a high rate of rural poverty, intensive competition for arable land, and severe environmental problems. More than three-fourths of the national production of basic grains occurs on small farms on marginal hillside soils.

Degradation of soil and water resources affects the household income of thousands of farmers, hydroelectric systems, sources of potable water and coastal zones. There have been increased investments in soil conservation practices in response to these problems, which has created a strong national demand for vetiver.

NOBS Anti-erosion, is a private company that promotes vetiver grass for soil conservation on hillsides. Established in 1994, it works with 140 institutions on 110 projects nationwide. The main activities include the transfer of technology, and the sale of vegetative material for living hedges. These activities are implemented through aggressive communications programs and by a team of extension specialists.

A case-study is presented on the transfer of vetiver technologies by NOBS in an area in the southwest region of E1 Salvador. A select group of small-scale farmers was trained to grow and manage vetiver for sustainable soil conservation. The farmers were given vegetative material for two years to establish replication plots. They then began transferring vetiver technologies to their neighbors. Currently, a group of 220 farmers is testing the vetiver technologies. Seventy-one percent of the farmers say that vetiver controls erosion. Eighteen percent of the farmers have observed that vetiver is increasing crop production due to increased soil moisture content. Eighty-two percent of the farmers will continue using vetiver for soil conservation.

 The Pacific Rim Vetiver Network (PRVN)

Narong Chomchalow

(Office of the Royal Development Projects Board, Bangkok, Thailand)

  The creation of the Pacific Rim Vetiver Network (PRVN) was the result of a proposal made by Mr. Richard Grimshaw, President of the Vetiver Network at the First International Conference on Vetiver (ICV-1) held in Chiang Rai, Thailand, on 4-8 February 1996. Mr. Grimshaw suggested that Thailand act as the core of the PRVN with the principal objective of serving as a center to collect and disseminate information in the form of newsletters, occasional publications as well as a homepage on the internet on the use of vetiver grass. homepage on the internet. in the form of newsletters, occasional publications as well as a on the. Thailand is considered suitable because it is the site of the world’s largest vetiver project, known as the Doi Tung Development Project, which has been implemented under the supervision of the Office of the Royal Development Projects Board (ORDPB), the organizer of the Conference. Subsequently, the ORDPB submitted the proposal to His Majesty the King, a keen supporter in the use of vetiver grass and an awardee of the Vetiver Network’s specially-commissioned bronze vetiver sculpture, in order to obtain his comments and approval. His Majesty agreed with the proposal and commissioned the setting up of the PRVN under the supervision of the Committee on the Development and Campaign for the Utilization of Vetiver under His Majesty’s Initiatives, to be administered by ORDPB.

In order to facilitate the effective implementation of the network with a common view and flexibility, the Committee established a Working Team to take care of the PRVN. It has the responsibility to manage and supervise the Network which aims to promote the cultivation and use of vetiver through the issuance of a newsletter and the homepage. The PRVN intends to serve the countries of eastern Asia and the Pacific. These include Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, the Cook Islands, Chian, Fiji, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Lao PDR, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore, the Solomon Islands, Taiwan, Thailand, Tonga, Vanuatu, Western Samoa, and Vietnam.

Thailand Country Report on Vetiver

Narong Chomchalow

(Office of the Royal Development Projects Board, Bangkok, Thailand)

In Thailand, the present state of land degradation caused by soil erosion as a result of top soil being washed away after heavy rains and the resulant runoff is quite devastating. His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej has realized the urgency of the problem and its cause. After careful condideration of the potential of vetiver grass , a versatile plant that can help prevent soil erosion and conserve soil moisture, His Majesty has adopted the idea of using vetiver for soil and water conservation. A simple technology will first be introduced to the hilltribes in the highlands of Northern Thailand, and later to all others who suffer from the same problem of soil erosion. The vetiver grass technology (VGT) has been found to be quite effective, with little or no expense, and it requires minimum care once its growth has been established.

His Majesty started to implement his concept in June 1991 upon information received from the World Bank. This has proven to be so effective that a great deal of progress has been achieved in a relatively short time. The Office of the Royal Development Projects Board (ORPDB) has been assigned to coordinate the R & D activities on vetiver in Thailand from the very beginning. Their achievements include the following:

1. The organization of the First International Conference on Vetiver (ICV-1) in Chiang Rai, Thailand, on 4-8 February 1996, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of His Majesty’s accession to the throne. It was one the most successful meetings ever organized with about 400 participants, including 102 from foreign countries.

2. The (National) Committee on the Development and Campaign for the Utilization of Vetiver under His Majesty’s Initiative was established under the administration of the ORPDB. The Committee is charged with the duty of coordinating all R & D activities for all agencies in Thailand that are working on vetiver in order to ensure that they follow the policy set forth in the master plan and to evaluate the results obtained. This Committee also helps these agencies by requesting their annual budget from the Budget Bureau. A Sub-committee on Technical Issues, Planning and Evaluation has also been set up by the Committee.

3. During the first phase (1993-96), a master plan was developed giving emphasis to the following activities: (i) investigation and research, (ii) transfer of technology, (iii) demonstration and extension, and (iv) other means of vetiver utilization. There were 27 agencies cooperating under the scheme in the first phase, with considerable success in each, especially in research, although there are a number of issues which have to be monitored more effectively.

4. The Committee has already prepared a master plan for the second phase of the programme (1997-99), with the objective of coordinating activities among various agencies, arranging the budget, and evaluating the work accomplished in order to satisfy His Majesty’s Initiative.

A few success stories from the results of the research and development work during the past phase will be highlighted in the present paper.

  Part II. Adaptability and Utilization


The Adaptability and Benefits of Vetiver on Hills of Red Earth

Lu ShengLuan, He XiangYi, Xiong GuoGen and Xie MeiGen

(JiangXi Provincial Institute of Red Earth, JinXian, JiangXi 331717, China)

Zhen QiFang

(Soil and Fertilizer Division, Bureau of Land Administration, JiangXi Province)

This paper deals with the growth and adaptability of vetiver on bare, severely eroded low hills composed of red earth. Vetiver grasses are more drought resistant, coldhardy and perform better with infertile soils than all local wild grasses. They are very effective in soil and water conservation due to their quick growth, numerous tillers and fast hedge formation. Their thick leaves and stems, once returned to the soil, are advantageous to soil physical properties and soil fertility. These as well as other benefits, make vetiver grass suitable for growth on the vast red earth hill areas in southern China and are worth extending to new locations.

Vetiver Planting Experiments in Eroded Areas

Ao HuiXiu, He DaoQuan and Xia HanPing

(Laboratory of Ecology, South China Institute of Botany,

Academia Sinica, GuangZhou 510650, China)

  In the experimental sites at WuHua, XingNing and other counties in GuangDong Province, vetiver grass, though planted in various eroded gullies, or dams or on slopes with thin and infertile soils, usually grew vigorously. Those planted in XingNing reached a height of 1 m by the sixth month after transplanting, with a average tillering rate of 10-15 slips, and a maximum of 50-60 slips per clump. Vetiver could form a closed belt in a timely manner and therefore could function well in soil and water conservation. Experiments showed that vetiver grass grew normally in eroded areas in GuangDong Province and could be extended to more areas in the future. However, further extension requires more profound research.

 A Preliminary Study on Wild Vetiver Grass

Huang BuHan and Zhang JingXi

(South China Institute of Botany, CAS, GuangZhou 510650, China)

  This paper introduces the series of investigations, studies and experiments conducted by the authors and others in the late 1950’s, on wild vetiver grass found in large areas around HuaZhou, GuangDong Province, China.

1. A great deal of information was obtained through a large scale field survey, including details of the morphological features of vetiver, distribution and the estimated reserves of wild vetiver.

2. Studies were conducted on the vetiver growing environment, i.e. landform, climate and soil conditions. Research showed that vetiver grass grew well in special local environments with alternating dry and moist conditions, growing in moist summers while flowering and fruiting in dry winters. It has shown that vetiver being a mesophyll-mesophyte type of plant with a wide range of adapbility could tolerate both water-logging and drought.

3. Research on the extraction, analysis and perfume test of wild vetiver oil and on the identification of wild vetiver fibre quality for paper making have verified the value of utilizing vetiver. As a result, vetiver grass has been put into industrial use. Tests have also proven that the quality of oil and fibre derived from wild vetiver is as good as that derived from common vetiver. The authors consider wild vetiver as a new kind of vetiver with a fine prospect for development and suggest that the authorities concerned should pay more attention to it.

4. Impacts of local environmental conditions on the oil content of vetiver roots and paper production of vetiver fibres were analyzed. Research showed that vetiver grass grew more luxuriantly in moist fields than in dry lands. However, perfume concentration of vetiver found in dry locations was higher than that from moist fields. In short, the content of available ingredient and utilization value of vetiver from dry sites was higher than that from moist fields. Research also showed that the rate of paper production for wild vetiver grass fibre grown in moist or wet depressions was lower than that found in areated soils with less water logging. It is therefore suggested that vetiver grass be planted in loose soils without water logging to obtain higher fibre quality for paper production and superior perfume oil quality.