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Thai treasures!

Thai treasures!
Vetiver handicrafts

Paul Truong

Paul Truong
Ho Chi Minh Highway

Ho Chi Minh Highway

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

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.

Watts Bridge Airfield, Queensland, Vetiver Waste Water treatment update


Watts Bridge constructed Vetiver wetland
Coordinates: -27.099224º  152.459996º
This constructed wetland has been operating since 2005 and is still working well. So well that effluent throughput could be doubled. Here is some comparative data from one of the test wells (#4) for years 2008 and (2017): pH:7 (6.5); P mg/l: 1.2 (0.25); Ammonium N: 0.13 (0.1); Nitrite N: 003 (0.022); Nitrate N: 0.097 (0.063), Nitrite + Nitrate N: 0.01 (0.041); Fecal coliform du/100ml: <10 (10). This system was installed by Paul Truong (Veticon). Note that out of the four test wells only well #4 had water in it. All the others were dry in 2017.  

This link takes you to an earlier presentation by Paul Truong including images and details: 

This  type of vetiver application is highly replicable, low cost and efficient
"The Father of Vetiver", John Greenfield died at his home in New Zealand on February 25 2017. John often reminded us that as agriculturists we had only 30 to 40 seasons to attempt to make significant change during our professional careers. He certainly succeeded in doing so, and today tens of thousands of people in the tropical world have benefited from his insights and actions on soil and moisture conservation and the application of the Vetiver System. He was a very practical hands on agronomist and conservationist whose work was always well based on science. He understood what he saw, and was able to create practical common sense solutions from those observations. We know him affectionately as "The Father of Vetiver" - and he is well known to many people through the simple hand book "Vetiver Grass - A Hedge Against Erosion" - a handbook that had to fit in the shirt pocket of a farmer! and one that has been translated into countless languages. 
I personally knew John since 1985 when he came to work with me in India. He became a good friend and colleague. We had many great times together in India, and after, from a distance promoting the Vetiver System around the globe. His was not a wasted life, but one of action, one that will continue to impact for a very, very, long time into the future on many thousands users of the Vetiver System in many different ways. John was always looking to help the world's small rainfed farmers. The best tribute to him would be for those people working with and advising this group of farmers, to make greater efforts to introduce the Vetiver System and the very unique plant that it is based on. Those who work with small farmers might like to read this: ALLEVIATING POVERTY IN THE THIRD WORLD -- THIS IS ALL IT TAKES!
Emerging from John's "Vetiver Grass Technology" based soil and water conservation focused work has been, in recent years, a series of bioengineering and phytoremediation applications that could have a profound impact on our environment at this time of climate change. 
Our thoughts are with Sandra (his long time partner) and his children.

Dick Grimshaw. February 25 2017

The Vetiver System supports Community Resilience at a time of uncertainty - Part 2 - Water

Figure 1: water oozing from spring line (PC- Anno Farms)
This is the second article about using the Vetiver System to help build community resilience in these uncertain times when many communities can expect little support from government or others to deal with increasing problems created by climate change, continuing poverty, and very limited financial resources. 

As noted in Part 1 most rural people in the tropics and semi arid areas are poor, and, even when out of poverty, most are unable to manage the environmental crises that currently, and in the future, will confront them. Most communities worry about being able to make a decent living from their small farms or businesses, they worry about the quality and availability of their water supply, they worry about potential disasters that may isolate them from neighboring communities and services, they worry about educating their children, and they see continuing and unabated health challenges often linked to environmental and social mismanagement.  These concerns are magnified because most communities lack access to low cost technologies that might help them overcome some of their problems. The Vetiver System (VS) is one of a number of technologies that can help them. VS is low cost, relatively simple to understand, safe, and over the past 30 years is well proven.

The Vetiver Grass Technology, (VGT) used for decades by farmers in south India as a tool for soil conservation, was reintroduced and "institutionalized" by John Greenfield of New Zealand whilst he was working for the World Bank in India in the 1980s.  At that time the objective was to establish VGT as a more appropriate erosion control technology than the traditional engineered contour bunds. Later VGT formed the basis of a number of other applications that collectively are known as the Vetiver System (VS), these will be reviewed in future posts to this blog.

This article discusses the application of VGT for sustained and improved water supplies that meet community needs. The availability of water and its quality has become of prime importance to sustaining human and animal life on our planet. This is of primary importance to many poor communities, both in urban and rural areas. A more reliable supply will reduce risks and costs, and for farmers assure crop and livestock benefits. VGT hedgerows as noted in part 1 will increase soil moisture and will enhance groundwater. Hedgerows reduce rainfall runoff by as much as 70%, and provide, by some estimates, 20% recharge of ground water.  Reduced runoff and recharge results in better down catchment flows, stronger spring flows, sustainable well water supplies, and fuller surface reservoirs. 

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