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Thai treasures!

Thai treasures!
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Ho Chi Minh Highway

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Vetiver has done its job! 14 years later stable slopes, clean road drains, and now mainly native species

Vetiver System - Vetiver Grass Technology Applications

Vetiver Grass is an absolute unique plant for many reasons, but its most impressive characteristics are that it can be grown successfully in virtually every country with a warm to hot climate, and for a large range of different applications covering a number of critical sectors relating to the environment.  Here is a list of these applications with links to some short photo presentations which helps put this plant into perspective.



Please share with others who might be interested.  Thank you


TVNI is aware that a number of varieties of vetiver grass are being used for various purposes of land management and conservation, and at times this may cause confusion and in some instances concern as to what variety falls legitimately under TVNI's "Vetiver System". Here follows TVNI's current policy:

"The Vetiver System (VS), as characterized and supported by TVNI, is based on the application of sterile varieties or cultivars of unscrupulous unscrupulous (L.) RobertyAll other Chrysopogon species (syn. Vetiveria) that are fertile may be used for similar applications to those covered by VS, but cannot be guaranteed to be effective or meet the technical specifications attainable with the known, tested, proven, and sterile C. zizanioides

Fertile vetiver grass varieties may be utilized just as any other useful, native plant might be for soil and water conservation and land management; however, TVNI does not specifically promote their use, and it actively discourages the sales and export of viable seed or plant material of fertile vetiver to countries and regions where such plants are not native and thus may pose a risk of being invasive."

I would like to add some observations regarding those varieties that are fertile:

Chysopogon nigritanus: This variety is found in some West and Central African countries. Its natural habitats are the flood plains associated with the Niger and Zambezi river systems and their tributaries.  Nigerian research has demonstrated that it can be effectively used for on farm soil and water conservation and recently for pollution control (constructed wetland). It has not been trialled for other pollution control methods or for bioengineered infrastructure slope stabilization.  Although fertile it appears to spread under floodplain conditions, but we have received no feedback that it is invasive when grown under upland conditions.  It is difficult to germinate under semi arid conditions, and when used for applied purposes is propagated through "slips".  In Senegal C.nigritanus was found to be inferior to C.zizanioides

Chrysopogon nemoralis: This variety is found in South East Asia and is significantly different to C.zizanioides.  It has shorter roots and is a less robust plant.  It is invasive and we do not recommend its use for any purpose.  C.nemoralis has been substituted for C.zizanioides by unscrupulous vendors.  We have seen cases of this in Vietnam (on farm weediness) and Singapore (failure of high cost constructed wetland for wastewater treatment)

Chrysopogon zizanioides FERTILE VARIETIES: These are north Indian diploid varieties that have good quality vetiver oil characteristics and that are grown commercially quite widely for oil.  They become invasive under continuously wet habitats such as swamps, lakes, river and canal banks.  Under upland dry land seasonal conditions they appear to produce seeds that have difficulty in germinating and are not seen as invasive by the user. Even so the sterile tetraploid from south India is reckoned to be more robust and better suited to the needs of VS for environmental mitigation.  Below is a quote from Dr. Umesh Lavania, a leading vetiver breeder in India

"Enhanced bio-efficiency of vetiver tetraploids.  Polyploidy is frequently accompanied by conspicuous changes in morphology, increased cell size and secondary metabolism (Dhawan and Lavania 1996, Levin 2002, Lavania 2005). Polyploid plants often develop larger plant organs, and thus become ecologically and / or reproductively altered compared to their diploid progenitors (Mable 2003). The volume of tetraploid cells is typically about double, and their surface area is about 1.5 times that of their diploid counterparts. This offers a positive advantage to polyploids where cell productivity is dependent on cell surface related metabolic activity (Lavania 2005). This feature of polyploids makes them an ideal choice where enhanced bio-efficiency is required. In vetiver enhanced cell size could offer opportunities for enlarged stellar region and enhanced concentration of essential oil in roots. Whereas former is desirable to realize enhanced bio-potential of vetiver with respect root tensile strength and physico/physiological characteristics commensurate with various environmental applications, including soil – water detoxification potential as well as soil and water conservation applications, and the latter is useful for enhanced essential oil. Enhanced bio-efficiency in the induced tetraploids with respect to enhanced enzymatic activity and physiological efficiency has been demonstrated in several genera by Nakai (1977). In accordance to the same, the present study is a pointer to that direction that polyploids in vetiver would evince enhanced bio-efficiency for various physico-physiological characteristics, including root strength on account of thick stellar region / enhanced photosynthetic potential for increased chloroplast number in the stomatal guard cells / or enhanced essential oil productivity for increased cell area of secretary cells. " Full paper at:

Finally TVNI would like to report that Dr. Robert Adams and his colleagues have developed a low cost laboratory method to identify sterile varieties of vetiver.  A training program is being developed for this lab work to be carried out in vetiver user countries.  More will be reported on this as it proceeds. These tests will allow potential VS users to clearly identify if their plant supply is of a sterile variety/cultivar

Restoring Our Watershed

Restoring Our Watershed is an organization in Costa Rica that is working with Communities to restore the degraded land and groundwater in northwest Costa Rica.  The heart and soul of its strategy is empowering families to control erosion and capture more rainwater, most frequently using vetiver grass technology (VGT).

"Restoring Our Watershed is creating a positive model for watershed management to ensure that future generations will have access to plentiful water, both in the Nandamojo basin and throughout Guanacaste.

Why? Water scarcity threatens communities in northwestern Costa Rica, and the process of assigning blame is tearing many apart. Major industries, including tourism and agriculture, have been pitted against residents of small towns whose wells are going dry. In most cases, the proposed solutions to this crisis focus solely on infrastructure improvements (new wells) or limiting the amount of water industries can withdraw.

Climate change has taken its toll on Guanacaste, which has suffered both a long-term drying trend and shorter, intense periods of drought. Projections for the future cast a grim outlook for the province – less rainfall and an increasing frequency of droughts.

Vetiver. -- Biomass production versus vetiver oil production. Some observations from Gueric Boucard

Recently Gueric Boucard (Dominican Republic) who has been in the vetiver oil business for years, and is now growing vetiver as a profitable bio fuel,  sent the following to a vetiver grower in Europe.  I though I would share it with you as it is rather thought provoking.

"If I could find a place to sell Vetiver slips at about 2 Euro a slip I would make millions overnight...., and Haiti would become a country of very rich peasants.

You can estimate that one hectare could yield over a million single slips/ annum:

Let's do the math, just for fun.

For mechanized Vetiver farming, on only a hundred hectares in the Dominican Republic, we plant (on 1 hectare 100m x 100m) 55 rows 100 meters long (rows are 1.80m apart to accommodate large digger tractor), which equals 5,555 linear meters of six clumps per meter (a tight staggered double row), which is a total 33,330 vetiver clumps per hectare, which after one year with irrigation will yield an estimated 50 seedlings (slips) per clump, that is: 1,666,500 SLIPS @ 2 Euro each = 3,333,000 Euros of slips per hectare. Wow!

That's a lot more money than corn and wheat, sugarcane or bananas...., or even cocaine per hectare (just guessing on the cocaine!).

Effluent crisis in densely populated countries – one possible solution – Vetiver System

Vetiver constructed wetland still working
after 12 years
Each time I open up Google Earth and look at various locations in India I see densely populated rural and urban centers, and know that many of them have no formal waste disposal systems, and are unlikely to have such facilities in the foreseeable future. In the mean time the problem multiplies as the population continues to grow.  The options are: (1) do nothing - not acceptable (2) wait for government to do something - slow and huge funding constraints (3) look for solutions that may not be perfect but will at least move towards some mitigation of the problem, (4) find solutions that depend heavily on community involvement. and supporting voluntary organizations. The problems if not at crisis level now, will be a crisis in the foreseeable future - that means soon – it also means that options 3 and 4 have to be given serious consideration.

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