Blog Vetiver Solutions (English)

The 6th International Vetiver Conference – May 5-8 2015

This conference, “Vetiver System: Empowering Sustainable Development”, is only 3 months away and will be held in Danang, Vietnam.. We encourage you and your colleagues to attend this conference to see and hear how the Vetiver System can significantly and positively impact on crucial environmental related development issues that are facing those dependent on land and water. These issues range from reducing soil and water loss, improving groundwater, mitigating disasters caused by extreme weather conditions, stabilizing soil based infrastructure, decontaminating polluted soil and water, and other related topics.

 Many users of the technology will be attending, and participants will learn how the Vetiver System technology can be applied successfully under different climatic and topographical conditions. We would encourage those of you who have social media sites to post this message, and in particular copy it to key professionals in your community (government and non-government) at local and state level. For details of the conference and registration see:

Note there is a 20% discount for registration before January 31 2015.

Vetiver Grass Installation Guide from US Department of Agriculture Now Available

An excellent document is now available that provides basic guidelines for installing vetiver grass in soil conservation applications. This guide was published in 2012 by the Oahu Resource Conservation and Development Council in cooperation with the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Pacific Islands Area.

The 16-page PDF document (in English) can be downloaded free from the Agriflora Tropicals online store. There you will also find many other valuable free documents and several vetiver plant packages that can be ordered for shipment to USA destinations.

Click Vetiver Grass Installation Guide - USDA to receive your copy.

Announcing the 6th International Conference on Vetiver (ICV-6)

Looking for an excuse to visit Vietnam?

The Organizing Committee of the Sixth International Conference on Vetiver has the great pleasure of extending invitation to you to join the significant event which is to be held in 5-8 May 2015 in Danang City, Vietnam.


With the theme Vetiver System: Empowering Sustainable Development, ICV-6 aims at promoting the application of vetiver in the global task of sustanable development of agriculture, civil engineering, environment (including water and land improvement and rehabilitation) and other possible areas. Continuing the success of ICVs in the past years, ICV-6 promisingly creates an effective forum for those interested in, passionate about and experienced in Vetiver System's applications. It also provides opportunities for networking, business, professional growth and learning.

Download the schedule and full information package at this Third Announcement page, or visit the conference website at the conference website.

Donations to The Vetiver Network International

The Vetiver Network International needs a little help so that it can keep moving forward!  It needs additional funds through donations to keep it going and to help generate and share the stream of Vetiver System information that has enabled the technology to steadily expand throughout the world.  A “Donate” button has been set on their website at  that will allow donations of any size to be received, using an acceptable credit card or a PayPal account.  The act of donating will generate automatically a receipt by email that can support the donation when claiming, if necessary, a tax deduction.  TVNI is a non profit organization and is classified as a charity. Remember also that all donations are used for Vetiver System promotion (as TVNI has no paid staff and has minimal overheads).

I hardly need remind you that the Vetiver System provides an important technology at this time of climate change with particular importance in helping to assure food security through soil and water conservation and soil fertility maintenance; mitigating contaminated land and water; stabilizing slopes; and for reducing the impact of disasters due to extreme rainfall events. There are many examples of what the Vetiver System can do and what it has done - all of which can be found on their website at:

Selecting the Correct Vetiver Grass for Soil Conservation Projects

In a recent discussion on The Facebook Vetiver Grass Network, a member from Jamaica was concerned about finding the correct vetiver grass to propagate for a local project. The register of verified vetiver growers in The Vetiver Network International does not include any sources in Jamaica. Without a trusted source, the selection of planting material can be tricky.

Dale Rachmeler, Vetiver Network Director for Sub-Sahara Africa replied in that discussion:
There are at least 11 species of vetiver and lots of cultigens and cultivars. Only one of the species, Chrysopogon zizanioides, is sterile (actually it sets infertile seed very infrequently) - so no viable seeds in C. zizanioides. Its root system is vertical in nature made of a mass of fine roots growing vertically downwards originating from the crown of the plant that is usually 4-6 inches below the surface of the ground,

The flower stems and leaves also emerge from the same crown that has nodes that encircle the crown. New crowns can be formed on the nodes of on the flower stem that appear for up to 12 inches above ground. These nodes are activated when soil accumulates behind hedges and the nodes are covered by that accumulated soil. These nodes then produce new plants that have the emerging crowns and this is the mechanism by which vetiver hedges can protect the front side of the accumulated soil and create a vegetative barrier that rises more or less vertically with the increased accumulation of soil (the creation of natural terraces).

If farmers or other locals see what they think is vetiver encroaching into their fields then it is definitely not C. zizanioides. All the other species of vetiver are seeded and can be invasive. For example, on the African continent you have C. nigritana which is found all over the place in isolated clumps that were formed from seed that is blown mostly by the wind. It has also been used for vegetative barriers but has a much smaller root mass than zizanioides (let's say by a factor of 3-5). For most people it is very difficult to tell the difference between these two species as they look very similar above ground. There is a slight difference of color of the flowers, and the spacing between the flowers on the stem is slightly different. The root color for nigritana is browner than for zizanioides which has a lighter color.

C. zizanioides has spread around the world mainly for its essential oil in the roots (1800s to 1900s) and recently since 1990, mainly because the Vetiver Network has taken it to over a 100 countries for soil and water conservation. In this modern era, DNA typing is available and affordable and is the only definitive way to make sure you have zizanioides. Once you have it, you are set to go and since you can multiply a clone when you grow it in a nursery.

The most practical and reliable way is to know the origin of the nursery material. There is more information on The Vetiver Network International dealing with the species variation and the distinctions between them. A collection of African vetiver is held in South Africa and is being tested for DNA. India holds a collection of all species and they mainly do breeding work for oil bearing zizanioides cultigens. Please continue to ask questions and be curious about vetiver. In the end I think you will find that it is a very worthwhile issue to get involved with.
The plants from Agriflora Tropicals, available to the USA and its territories, at the Agriflora Tropicals store, are certified to be of the non-invasive type by the US Department of Agriculture. In other countries, checking the list of verified sources on The Vetiver Network plant suppliers page is the best first step. Read more about the vetiver plant in "The Plant" section of this blog.

Saving Oceanic Islands with the Vetiver System

Oceanic islands, no matter whether they are in the Pacific, (the world’s largest area of scattered tiny islands) or anywhere else in the world as long as they are between the latitudes of 30° North or South of the Equator, will depend on the Vetiver System for their future survival as viable habitats.

[This article is contributed by guest blogger John Greenfield - Director, The Vetiver Network International]

I developed the Vetiver System using contour rows of vetiver grass (Vetiveria zizanioides) over 50 years ago for the Fiji Sugar Industry to stabilize farm land in the Fiji Islands. It was extremely successful and is still there today. This system of sustainable hedges is fully applicable to all other tropical developing countries in order to sustain their agricultural production in every aspect.

Vetiver Systrem vs contour banks
Vetiver Systrem vs contour banks
The standard methods of constructed soil conservation still being taught at temperate climate universities throughout the world, do not work in the tropics and especially in tiny ocean islands exposed to short duration and high intensity rainstorms and hurricanes. The constructed system of ‘conservation’ is expensive to install. Because of its design characteristics, it takes up too much land to be properly installed, is short lived, and is extremely expensive to maintain. The constructed system is designed to collect runoff, divert it to a safe outlet and dispose of it ‘safely’. This is the last thing a rain-fed farmer on a small tropical island wants. The constructed system because it acts like a drain, is also the worst system for replenishing freshwater aquifers in these tiny island atolls. Rainfall must be evenly distributed over the surface so that it can find access to the aquifers and replenish them before being lost to the sea as runoff.

Recently, in the South Pacific, we have seen the devastation of the little island Niue as a result of a 300+ kilometer/hour hurricane. The island of Niue is typical of so many of these little islands and atolls, it is 260 square kilometers in size, has 4,108 ha of arable land of which 470 ha are, or were, in permanent crops. For sustained viability, this land and the surrounding marginal land will need stabilizing to prevent soil loss and runoff. This can only be done in the tropics using the Vetiver System, a dynamic system of hedges across the slopes around the island.  These hedges of vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides), once established, are permanent and effective barriers to soil loss and runoff. Ocean islands depend on rainfall to replenish their fresh water aquifers, usually on ‘perched-water tables’.

In their natural state, these little islands had some jungle cover which provided fuel wood and building material, but more importantly the jungle’s undergrowth and leaf-litter spread the rainfall run-off out, slowed it down, gave it a chance to seep into and replenish the natural aquifers before it ran in to the sea.

With greater population pressure in recent years - tourist resorts, paved roads, airport runways, and other constructions, these jungles - and especially the undergrowth - have been destroyed. Gardens which used to produce sufficient food to mix with the fish and shellfish from the reef and lagoons are now producing next to nothing. Runoff is uncontrolled; top soil is disappearing fast and, where it enters the sea polluted, it kills the reef. Not only are food stocks going down but, due to pollution, fish stocks in the lagoons are diminishing also. Where the coral of the barrier reef is damaged, there is no protection from the next hurricane, and the storm waves can now be devastating.

Tourism has created another major problem . . . rubbish. This trash, especially plastic containers, bottles, and
Vetiver on a beach - Bali
Vetiver on a beach - Bali
wrapping all non biodegradable. This is being dumped in the drainage network and eventually ends up out at sea. Vetiver hedges planted in the drainage network filters all this rubbish out of the runoff and holds it back for collection and proper disposal.

 In their present state, these islands can be supplied with food, health needs and infrastructure by aid agencies and the ‘outside world’. Because of their isolation, we cannot supply them with sufficient water (or soil), nor keep up the supply. Rainfall must be controlled so that it isn’t wasted as runoff or polluted by poor rubbish disposal; this is the only way to ensure water supplies to these little islands and keep them habitable. Very few of these small islands have any rivers or streams; they depend on rainfall to replenish their ‘perched water-tables’ - and the only way this can be done is by controlling the runoff and giving it a chance to soak in to the ground.

Vetiver grass hedgerows can be very valuable in preventing erosion and water damage to tracks, wells and gardens within the island’s housing areas, and in protecting roads (even against tsunamis which will go over the hedges and not under them). The hedgerows should be coupled with urban tree planting in housing areas, trees which could serve as shade as well as a source of timber; food; fuel or forage. When planted along embankments and in catchment areas, vetiver hedgerows can also reduce erosion of roadsides and airfields. If there are streams in the country, the hedgerows are also extremely important in permanently reducing stream bank erosion and sediment loads entering streams, reservoirs and harbors. The massive root system of the vetiver plant (measured down to six meters in Thailand) forms an extremely dense ‘underground bio-dam’ across the slope, and is capable of clarifying water and not only maintaining but increasing year around water flow of springs and streams by holding back runoff and giving it a chance to find an underground aquifer.

Because of their soil filtering function, natural terraces begin forming behind vetiver hedgerows soon after planting. Not only do hedgerows mitigate erosion, but empirical data indicate that the survival, growth and production of trees and annual crops planted behind the hedges can be increased by as much as 50% by conserving topsoil, increasing the availability of nutrients and moisture for these plants.

Vetiver grass hedges planted across the slope of steep hillsides establish extensive root systems and begin reducing erosion within the first year. A study by scientists from Texas A&M after Hurricane Mitch in Honduras, shows that erosion was reduced from "92 tons of soil/ha/yr to 0.9 tons/ha/yr on steep hillside farms that were protected by contour hedgerows of vetiver.” The only farms that weren’t destroyed during Hurricane Mitch, the most violent hurricane ever recorded, were those protected by vetiver hedges.

What is needed now is to get a small island as a demonstration area using the Vetiver System, to show the aid agencies the economic effectiveness of this system and be used as an example to the rest of the world’s ocean islands. We would need to get approval from the governing body of the island or island group to lay down such a demonstration covering the full benefits of the Vetiver System on one island. We would need to get approval to import the planting material, the experts and labor to lay out the demonstration and the funds to cover this plus a maintenance period of at least three seasons. We would also need to budget for a high-standard documentary to be made of the demonstration for further publicity of what can be done in such threatened areas . . . before it is too late.

Additional reading:

The Essentials of Rainfed Farming in Subsistence Agriculture
This article is contributed by guest blogger:
John Greenfield - Director, The Vetiver Network International

As everyone who has ever had a basic garden knows, growing plants requires soil moisture - not just rain.  Individual plants cannot harvest enough water on their own from the rainfall runoff that passes them by. This essential moisture has to be held in the soil where it is available to the root system of the plant and not lost to the drainage network.  This is the basis of “rainfed” agriculture.  An extremely simple fact, but one that seems to be constantly overlooked as scientists try to develop the perfect “drought resistant plant”. Rarely will you see mentioned "controlling runoff" mentioned in research papers on rainfed farming.

In India, for example, I have seen millet crops germinate as the result of 9 mm of rainfall at the beginning of the wet season – then there was no further rain for six weeks.  Those little plants withered and died, and the farmers lost that crop. What is worse, some farmers not only lost their crop, but they also lost their seed and couldn’t ‘replant’. The district was declared a drought area, but this announcement was no help to the farmers, they were now desperate.

Fortunately for us, we had been trying to get these farmers interested in the “Vetiver System” (VS) by telling them that vetiver hedges had the ability of slowing down runoff, spreading it out and giving it as chance to soak into the soil while filtering the silt and nutrients out of that runoff. The increase in yields they would see from practicing VS would convince them that this essential technology of moisture conservation - initially labor intensive but not expensive - was essential to their future. 

We had held a meeting of these farmers to explain VS, and got some farmers to volunteer their land to try the system out. Those farmers received the same rainfall as their neighbors but, in their case, their vetiver hedges retained the 9 mm rainfall, spread it out, and let it soak in to the soil.  This gave their plants sufficient moisture to carry them through the six weeks without rain.  After this dry period the rainfall was more than adequate and the farmers with VS produced some of the best crops they have ever had.

All that is required to achieve that essential vetiver barrier is the planting material and a farmer’s bare hands (as can be seen in the picture of an Ethiopian farmer planting just such a hedge). No bulldozers, engineering, dumpy levels, administrative staff, costly vehicles or support infrastructure.  No foreign experts, no meetings to plan contour-layouts.  Just the farmer and some planting material can achieve a permanent system of soil and moisture conservation leading to sustainable crop production and increased yields without losing his soils and nutrients through erosion.

Vetiver hedges do not have to be planted on the contour and are actually more useful planted across the slope; this makes it easier for the farmer to follow them with his plow. In spite of their massive root system (see picture) vetiver hedges do not compete with crop plants in anyway. In fact, they may enhance growth near the hedges due to the extra moisture and nutrients held there, and their symbiotic mycorrhiza the benefits of which crop plants can also share.

This vetiver system is different from constructed soil conservation systems that are actually rainfed negative, especially in the tropics, by diverting the rainfall runoff in to waterways. Contour banks, diversion banks, and absorption banks and are a total misconception when it comes to rainfed farming.

Vetiver hedges can hold back 300 mm of runoff, but the rainfall that filters through the hedges naturally waters the land immediately below the hedge – this is the ‘flow through system of soil and moisture conservation".  Vetiver hedges, because of their massive root system, cannot be breached – whereas conservation banks, once full to overflowing, are easily breached and can cause massive gullying when this happens.

Not even the best bred, drought tolerant crop plants (there is no such thing as drought resistant plants) with weed and pest control and ideal fertilizer applications with all their inherent costs, will produce a sustainable crop result without the essential soil moisture.

In many parts of India, the only fertilizer the subsistence farmer has is made from his farmyard manure and straw. With commendable effort this fertilizer is gathered up as compost and carried to the field in "head loads" and applied by hand. Unfortunately, if the first rains are relatively heavy, the fertilizer is floated away and lost to the drainage network. We found that with the benefit of vetiver hedge barriers that spread out the runoff and slow it down, the fertilizer is not lost.

In conclusion, the essential ingredient of rainfed farming is the control of runoff.

John Greenfield introduced the Vetiver System concept to India in 1980s.  He is the "Father of Vetiver" and authored the "Green Book" - Vetiver Grass-A Hedge Against Erosion. He is a director of The Vetiver Network International and lives in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand.

The Agriflora Tropicals Store 2.0

Vetiver Solutions Logo 100x100Our Agriflora Tropicals web store just came back from a major facelift.  Although I still can not find a color scheme and wallpaper that I like better, almost everything else got fine tuned and reorganized. In its new incarnation, Agriflora 2.0 is now exclusively a store for vetiver plants. Sadly, we decided to say goodbye to the heliconias, gingers, and bananas that were the cornerstone of our beautiful farm. Our new logo with the curvy contour lines of our vetiver hedges is a better symbol of our new direction and will be replacing our aging Red Caribaea heliconia image everywhere.

The new layout places all the educational information about vetiver in tabs accessible from every page including sections about the vetiver plant, the vetiver system, planting and caring, our production method, our professional credentials, frequently asked questions, and a page that displays the latest post in our Vetiver Solutions Blog and Blog Vetiver Puerto Rico.  Fans now have easy links to our Facebook page, our newsletter, and our other sales venues at Amazon, eBay, and Facebook.

Buyers now have an easier and faster checkout experience through PayPal Express.  Google Checkout, never a popular payment method, is no longer interested in supporting sellers with Puerto Rico addresses and has been removed after our several ineffective attempts at communicating with intelligent life at their end.  We apologize to the very few customers that ever used it.  It will not be missed.

Please come and take a look. Your comments below will tell  us if we got it right. Please do not leave the store without giving a “Like” to our Facebook page and registering for our newsletter.  I’ll see you there.

Vetiver Grass in Vertical Carbon Sequestration

I am sure that you have heard me say before that we have only just started to discover the many applications where vetiver grass can make a significant contribution to improve land, air, and water environmental problems. This excellent article, VetiVertical City in Shanghai, China, published online by Architect, the magazine of the American Institute of Architects, opens the floodgates to the possibility of urban installations where vertical fields of vetiver can play a role cleaning the polluted city environment.

Granted, this comes directly from the Easier-said-than-done Department and it is still a conceptual proposal by italian architect Eugenio Aglietti. Nevertheless, seeing a detailed presentation like this (note that there are 12 pictures in the scrolling photo strip) means that architects, engineers, and city planners have taken notice of the possibilities offered by our favorite plant.

The article tells us that Shanghai is one of the Chinese cities with the highest levels of CO2 emissions per capita and held the lead as the biggest carbon dioxide emitter between 2004 and 2007. Could we ask for a better testing ground?

In a previous article in this blog in 2009, Vetiver in Carbon Sequestration, I discussed some of the early research using vetiver for this purpose. It seems that the idea is now moving from research to reality. The article estimates that 4,000 billion Vetiver plants all over the world would be needed to handle the global excess of CO2. Let's get to work!

Introducing the Agriflora Vetiver Newsletter

Agriflora Vetiver Newsletter Cover Page
After putting it off for an incredible long time, the first issue of the Agriflora Vetiver Newsletter went out last Friday, March 8 to the first group of email subscribers. Even if it does not become a collector's issue, the newsletter will present news and other useful information that will help you learn about vetiver and its many applications around the world. In addition to its well-known merits in soil conservation and erosion control, vetiver is finding a place in phytorremediation, wetland construction, water quality improvement, alternate fuel, and other bioengineering scenarios.

As reader of this blog, you have the option of receiving a copy of the blog it via email so you do not miss any posts, subscribing to the new newsletter - or both.  Check the column on the right for both subscription options.

If you want to opt-in to the newsletter right now, click on the Agriflora Vetiver Newsletter Signup Form and fill out a few details. If you missed the first issue or any others, you can still get your copy from the Archive. I hope that you enjoy reading it, and I promise not to share your information or use it for any other purpose.

Social Groups of The Vetiver Netwok International

Many of our readers already participate in the Vetiver Grass Users Group - Facebook which is daily adding members from around the world. The success of this site in the social networking environment has encouraged us to start a similar effort in the new Google+ service which recently created a feature called "Communities" which similarly allows like-minded people to come together and share knowledge and experiences.

As with the Facebook group, I am the creator of this community with the help of many Vetiver Network International members. You can visit the site and apply for membership at The Vetiver Grass Network - Google+

I realize that participating in both sites is time-consuming - so chose the one you like best and be active in it,  Vetiver is getting a lot of visibility worldwide through the social groups and more and more "friends of friends" are hearing about the merits of our favorite plant.  In the end, this benefits everyone.

We look forward to your participation in either or both - please go now to join:

    Client Profile - Second Vetiver Trial of the Puerto Rico Highways Authority

    Back in October 2009, I wrote the post Vetiver in Defense of Road Embankments where I presented the first trial of the Puerto Rico Highways Authority with Vetiver or Road 30, near the town of Las Pideras.  The embankment, now populated by the vetiver and other plants, has proven stable over several significant weather events.

    Now, a second trial project has been completed where 3400 plants complement the repair and stablilization work done on a segment of Road 856 in the town of Carolina. This landslide, caused by a strong weather event in 2010, required complex grading and reinforcing to ensure stability and proper drainage.  The construction work as well as the planting  was expertly performed by Constructora Harmann who were the contractors for the Road 30 project as well.

    In our tropical, hilly island, landslides in road slopes are a frequent aftermath to extended rain events. The continued adoption of Vetiver by our goverment agencies will create contractors skilled in the Vetiver System that can provide this service at the public and private level. A full set of images can be seen in the slideshow below and in this Picasa album.

    Phytoremediation Of Lead Contaminants

    The March 12, 2012 edition of, the online relative to the New Jersey daily newspaper The Record, includes a fascinating article titled Exotic grass could help clean lead from soil that describes vanguard research being done at Montclair State University using vetiver for phytoremediation of soils that are contaminated with lead residues.

    We all forget that lead from old paint chips (prior to 1978) and leaded gasoline (prior to the 1990s) are still around in our environment, and New Jersey still reported more than 1300 cases of lead poisoning among children in 2010. Much research remains to be done, but preliminary tests of vetiver's ability to remove contaminants from soil are very encouraging and validate what many of us vetiver practitioners have been saying for years.

    Vetiver's survival during the harsh winters of the northern states remains a high hurdle but the southern states my find this a viable solution. The development of a cold-tolerant strain of vetiver has been the holy grail of vetiver growers for many years. Perhaps research such as this will encourage geneticists to develop such a plant.

    Take a few minutes to read the full article online or download a PDF formatted copy for printing from my Google Docs.

    Proceeding of the Fifth International Conference on Vetiver

    The documents that were presented during the Fifth International Conference on Vetiver (ICV-5) in Lucknow, India from October 28 - 30, 2011 have been orgainized and published at the web site of The Vetiver Network International.

    For the first time at an ICV conference some pharmaceutical papers were presented. These included a paper on the ability of an extract of vetiver oil to act as an antimycobacterial agent to combat tuberculosis

    The documents are all in English and separated into text and the graphic presentations used during the conference.  They are organized by subject as follows:
      • Climate Change
      • Infrastructure Protection
      • Environmental Protection
      • Vetiver Oil
      • Basic Research
      • Dissemination
      • Soil and Water Conservation
      • Pharmaceutical
      • Socio-economics
      • Innovation
    These proceeding can be accessed and downloaded freely from this page: ICV5-Proceedings.

    Vetiver Soil Conservation Buffers at the Pioneer Machete Farm

    Initial barrier
    We are happy to say that the Vetiver Soil Conservation Buffers project at the Pioneer Machete Farm has met its objectives and our plants are now containing sediments that would otherwise be affecting coral reefs south of Guayama in Puerto Rico. This project, funded by a grant from the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) of the US Department of Agriculture, is a good example of simple bioengineering used in the agricultural industry.   

    Pioneer, a DuPont company, has several locations in Puerto Rico where research on new seeds for corn, soybean, sorghum, and sunflower is taking place. They are very interested in the application of the Vetiver technology, for controlling soil erosion, managing waterways, reducing runoff, trapping sediments, and stabilizing soils during intense rainfall and floods.  A small pilot project at one of their Salinas locations was the stepping stone to this ambitious project.

    Barriers along waterway
    A visit on July 20, 2011 by Luis Pascual Ramos from Pioneer, Edwin Mas from NRCS, and Alberto Rodriguez and Carmen I. Ruiz from Agriflora, found the Vetiver hedges to be developing very rapidly after they were replanted in March 2011.  The replanting using hardened, well-rooted, plugs was needed because the original bare root slips could not survive the severe drought that occurred from November 2010 to February 2011.  The new planting, with an installed drip irrigation system, is now fully rooted and the hedges are already trapping a substantial amount of the sediment carried by the waterway.

    Although this land looks fairly level to the eye, evidence of strong sediment flows could be seen throughout the fields.  The waterway running across Finca Machete was creating a large gully due to the effect of water running through the soft soil with no protecting vegetation. The silt being dragged down the waterway was finding its way to an urban area at the southern end and to the coastal area beyond that.  Pioneer had been establishing trenches and dikes to direct and collect the water flows in a manner which protects the production fields as well as the community.  These mechanical barriers and channels require extensive maintenance and do little to prevent the main waterway flow from reaching the coast where coral reefs are known to exist.

    A vegetative conservation system, as built, forms a series of protective barriers along the waterway, which slows the run-off water causing sediment to be deposited. Since the barriers only filter the runoff and do not block it, water seeps through the hedge, reaching the bottom of the slope at a lower velocity without causing any erosion and without being concentrated in any particular area. 

    The objectives of this proposal have been achieved and the project is considered completed.  The Vetiver filter strip system established is composed of:
    • One initial barrier of 500 feet north of the start of the waterway
    • Thirty (30) barriers along the waterway - placed every 100 feet
    • One final barrier, 1000 feet wide, at the southernmost edge of the waterway
    Trapped sediment
    All the barriers were seen trapping vegetative mass along the waterway and deposits of loose soil accumulations are evident within each segment of the waterway.  It was noted that hedges closer to the beginning of the waterway show greater development that those towards the end.  This would be consistent with the expectation that the Vetiver will trap and use the excess fertilizer that would otherwise flow along the waterway.

    Agronomist Luis Pascual Ramos, Sr. Research Associate at Pioneer, made a presentation about this project in a Pioneer meeting in Hawaii where operations from several countries were represented.  The results of the project will continue to be shared with these locations and it is expected that similar measures could be implemented by other stations.  In Puerto Rico, Pioneer is still interested in expanding the use of Vetiver to other areas of the Machete Farm.  We will continue to work closely with them to define and design these additional objectives.

    A full set of pictures can be seen in our Picasa album Pioneer Finca Machete Sediment Control

    New Blog Design Completed

    Today we completed the redesign for this blog Vetiver Solutions. We hope that you enjoy the new look and content   We acknowledge the support of, OOruc, the designer of this blog layout who has given us excellent assistance throughout the process. If anyone is looking for a good professional design, we recommend you visit his website at

    Fifth International Conference on Vetiver - October 2011

    The Fifth International Conference on Vetiver (ICV-5) is scheduled to take place at the Central Institute of  Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP), Lucknow, India, between 28-30 October 2011.

    For detailed information and registration please visit the ICV-5 Conference Website. Their invitation is reprinted below:

    The Organizing Committee of the Fifth International Conference on Vetiver (ICV-5) on the theme “Vetiver and Climate Change” has the pleasure of inviting you to participate in this important international conference.

    In India, the roots of this grass have been traditionally used for essential-oil production, and its hedges for on farm soil and water conservation, contour and forage. Over a period of time Vetiver System (VS) has acquired international territories and is now grown in over 100 countries owing to its cost effective environment friendly multifarious application and sustainable solutions for soil and water conservation, slope and embankment stabilization, natural disaster mitigation, pollution mitigation, agroforestry management and host of ecosystem services.

    The vetiver grass model promises a natural solution to mitigate the effects of climate change. Leading practitioners, experts, and policy makers associated with Vetiver System applications from all over the world will participate in the conference. This will provide an excellent opportunity for scientists, growers, entrepreneurs, industrialists and environmentalists to interact and share experience on prospects, potential, and opportunities of VS applications.

    India is the native home of vetiver, and Lucknow is located in an important geographic region where vetiver has its natural occurrence. It is our privilege to hold this International Conference on Vetiver in India, and also offer an opportunity for the participants to see vetiver in action in its native home. We extend a hearty welcome to you to explore and learn the state of art progress in this unique plant and its application.

    We look forward to your active participation to make this international event a grand success.

    Bioengineering With Vetiver Grass on Guam

    This article - Bionegineering with Vetiver Grass on Guam - published with information from Guam University, is very pertinent for our coastal areas.  Professor Mohammad Golabi, has completed a pilot project protecting a coastal area adyacent to a residential contruction project on Pago Bay.  These Vetiver hedges will trap the sediment resulting from the construction site before it affects the coral reefs in that area.

    Many coastal areas of the USA are under similar pressure from construction projects, agricultural practices, and industrial contaminants.  Vetiver is a great bioengineering tool to reduce the damage and clean up our coastline.  We sorely need more research and pilot projects from our regulatory agencies.

    Vetiver Blogs - Some New, Some Improved

    Over the last few weeks I have been bad about writing in my own blog. I was busy, however, helping out other Vetiver bloggers to ramp up their sites. 

    The "most improved" award goes to the site of The Vetiver Network International blog itself.  Many new features have been added including much better visibility of what is being published by other Vetiver sites.  A new subsection provides easy links to various official publications in PDF and hard cover.  This is the top blog on Vetiver around the world and it is written by Dick Grimshaw, Chairman of TVNI himself.

    Both the Vetiver Latina blog in Spanish, and the Vetiver Brazil blog in Portuguese, received facelifts with new layouts, color schemes, and widgets to make them more attractive and organized.

    Finally John Greenfield, father of the Vetiver movement, now has his own personal blog, John Greenfield's World, where you will find stories, anecdotes, and humor not found at any other of the sites.

    All these sites now have the "Blog Concierge" service where you can choose to receive new articles on email.  RSS subscription services are also available for your favorite RSS reader if you like that better.

    A now look for this blog is also in my "to do" list for sometime soon.  Each of these blogs has its own style and character, and I encourage you, my reader, to get to know them all.

    New Vetiver Network Board Members and Appointments

    At The Vetiver Network International board meeting on January 30 several new board members were elected along with the awarding of some well deserved technical recognitions.  I am very pleased to report that the board honored me with an appointment as Associate Director in recognition of my activities in support of the Vetiver Network and of Vetiver users in the Caribbean and for finding ways of improving TVNI's image and communications via the Internet.

    Before becoming a nurseryman (and I thought that I was retiring), I had a long career in information technology.  Parlaying that experience into my Vetiver endeavors, I first created this blog that you, my readers, have supported with regular visits from over 70 countries each month.  The success of this blog encouraged several others around the world in French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese to add more regular content accessible to non-technical readers.
    Other Internet efforts that I have helped grow include the creation and administration of the Vetiver Caribbean Network Google Group, the creation of The Vetiver System Knol Collection at Google Knols, creating the site structures for the Vetiver Latina Google Group and the Vetiver Latina Blog, the maintenance of the Wikipedia Vetiver System page, and, of course, making Vetiver easier to obtain by the general public (in the USA at least) from our Agriflora Tropicals online store.  All of these efforts would be meaningless without the support from you, our readers and clients, many of which have become personal friends and Vetiver champions in your own right.

    Other well deserved appointments include Elise Pinners and Roley Noffke as Directors to the Board of TVNI, and Mary Wilkowski also as Associate Director.  Marco Forti, Alain Ndona, Tony Cisse, and Yoann Coppin were recognized with appointments as Senior Technical Advisers to TVNI, and the appointment to the same position by Alemu Mekonnen of Ethiopia is pending his acceptance. Congratulations to all!

    I also want to share with you the acceptance response by Tony Cisse in Senegal.  I always preach that we live at at time when the concept of "networking" has taken a new and indispensable meaning in our social and professional lives.  TVNI, as a network, is a textbook example of what a small group of people can accomplish by pulling in the same direction.  In Tony's words:
    "Thank you for your recommendation and I take it as a great honor. I will of course accept, and hope that in doing so I can live up to it and contribute to the mission.

    "I must say that, since coming into contact with TVNI, I have never ceased to be inspired by the people I have met or read or communicated with. In my view, the spirit of TVNI is almost unique in its commitment to sharing, supporting each other, and openness. So many times organizations are riven with competition, rivalry, egotism, or self-interest - and here is TVNI which is an example to all of how we can work together, sharing information, knowledge, and experience with people we have never met and may never meet, because of our commitment to a common good.  Apart from our belief in what Vetiver can contribute, it is that commitment to open exchange which is a shining example to people working in all fields of development work."
    Well said, Tony! It is indeed a fine group of people that make up TVNI. Vetiver rocks!

    Vetiver as Windbreaker at Gargiulo Puerto Rico

    Back in August last year, Peter Hernández, Operations Manager of the Gargiulo commercial farming operation in Puerto Rico, agreed to try Vetiver as a windbreaker for their tomato fields. Gargiulo has been using sugar cane hedges to cut back the dust that blows into their tomato production fields. With 900 acres of land, 600 of which are in actual production, dust damage can be a very costly environmental factor that must be effectively controlled. Although the sugar cane has proven effective as a wind barrier, this cane must be harvested and replanted annually at substantial cost.  In the old days, the biomass left over from sugar cane harvesting was burned and plowed back into the fields. Air quality legislation no longer allows this disposal method, and all this biomass must be spread on otherwise useful land and allowed to dry and decompose over many years. Gargiulo and Agriflora Tropicals agreed that a better solution was needed.

    Two 500-plant trials were planted on June 24 and August 6, 2009.  Both locations were planted as double Vetiver rows that were later continued as double sugar cane rows, that being the standard Gargiulo practice.  The Picasa album Vetiver as Windbreaker, Gargiulo Puerto Rico documents the successful implementation of the Vetiver barriers.  The latest pictures, taken on January 13, 2010, show that the Vetiver has achieved about two-thirds of the sugar cane height with a denser, more wind-resistant, body mass.  Contrary to sugar cane, Vetiver hedges will be permanent and will require minimal care and maintenance for many years.  Vetiver biomass, should Gargiulo choose to cut any of it, can be used as mulching or plowed back into fields providing additional value.

    In Puerto Rico, Gargiulo produces 1.5 million 25-lb boxes of top quality tomatoes per harvest. Vetiver may also help Gargiulo address various soil conservation problems where sugar cane was never a solution, and may increase field productivity by increasing soil moisture and acting as a trap crop to flying insects.  Agriflora Tropicals will continue to work with Gargiulo to evaluate and implement these Vetiver bioengineering solutions during this year.

    Vetiver as Windbreaker, Gargiulo Puerto Rico

    Manual Técnico del Sistema Vetiver - Edicion en Español

    Gracias al esfuerzo de Oscar Rodríguez de Venezuela, la versión final del Manual Técnico del Sistema Vetiver en español ya ha sido publicada.  Este manual esta disponible al público por un costo de US$15.00 a través de la Página de Publicaciones del Vetiver Network International (TVNI)

    Ediciones en Inglés, Francés y Swahili también estan disponibles allí, al igual que otras publicaciones importantes sobre la planta Vetiver.
    El costo de estos manuales técnicos esta pautado para aumentar a US$20.00 muy pronto.  Las personas interesadas deben aprovechar el precio actual.

    Thanks to the efforts of Oscar Rodriguez from Venezuela, the final Spanish version of the Vetiver System Technical Reference Manual is now published.  The manual is available to the public for $15.00 from the Publications Page of The Vetiver Network International (TVNI).  Editions in English, French, and Swahili are also available there, as well as other important publications about the Vetiver plant.

    The price of these technical manuals is scheduled to increase to US$20.00 very soon. If you are interested, take advantage of the current price.

    Vetiver Roots Excavation in Brazil

    Showing  Vetiver roots in a picture or in a slide show is what most of us do when we give a presentation about our plants.  Fernando Costa Pinto of Biofabrica JAFM in Brazil does not take the easy way out.  For his display at the 2009 SOBRADE Congress on November 2009, Fernando decided to show the real thing.

    My Picasa album, Vetiver roots excavation in Brazil and my YouTube video show, step-by-step, the ordeal of the excavation process required to exhibit these 10-foot roots.  Vetiver is known for grabbing onto the soil and not letting go.  These photos prove that beyond any doubt.  Thank you, Fernando, for this unique demonstration!

    SOBRADE stands for Sociedade Brasileira de Recuperação de Áreas Degradadas and the congress took place Novermber 9-13 on Curitiba, Brazil.  An attendance of 380 members from 15 countries gave this event significant global importance.  Vetiver plays an important role in this context of land rehabilitation and Biofabrica JAFM in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil is a major contributor in that difficult field. 

    Vetiver Top Conservation Option In Ethiopia
    Last March, The Vetiver Network International (TVNI) helped sponsor a Vetiver System workshop in Ethiopia. It seems that somebody listened. Dick Grimshaw, Chairman of TVNI shared a message that he received from Belayneh Adugna, the Up-Scaling Component Coordinator and Soil and Water Conservation Specialist of GTZ-Amhara Sustainable Land Management Program. Belayneh Adugna said:

    The progress made so far to scale-up the Vetiver System in Amhara region is promising. Many government and non government organizations who are working in the area of soil and water conservation are giving due attention to promote Vetiver as the best solution for agricultural development and natural resources conservation. Vetiver nurseries are established in each corner of the region. Even private farmers are producing Vetiver planting materials and generating income by selling Vetiver seedlings.

    Moreover, the Vetiver System is the top in the agenda of options for sustainable land management and included in the governments extension technologies package. So, I am sure we can make a difference in this country through the application of the Vetiver System. Actually we need to do a lot of capacity building works at all levels.
    Dick Grimshaw commented: "It is a real pleasure to see the progress being made in Ethiopia with the continued expansion of the Vetiver System for soil and water conservation. There is a lot written and talked about relating to combating climate change in Africa and improving agricultural production.

    "The possibilities of irrigation are very limited as compared to south and east Asia. Africa has to optimize her rain-fed agriculture - a primary concern must be erosion control, soil nutrient retention, and in-situ soil and water conservation. The Vetiver System is proving to be the least costly and most effective method of achieving these objectives. If widely applied it might indeed prove to be a precursor to a new "Green Revolution" for tropical agriculture."

    I am hoping that the rest of the world will not wait for near-disaster conditions before implementing sensible soil conservation practices. Anybody else listening?

    Vetiver as a Landscaping Plant
    OK, I am guilty as charged. With thousands of Vetiver plants in my nursery and hundreds of others doing their conservation job around my farm, I too forget what an attractive plant this can be in a formal or tropical garden. I train my plants to survive in the harshest environments with almost nonexistent water, fertilization, and love. I am used to seeing them look scrawny and angry from neglect, but I know that I can count on them to do their job without a complaint.

    Lately, I have been planting a few short rows near the house as part of our landscaping. At the risk of establishing a bad precedent with the not-so-lucky rest of the pack, these puppies get regular sprinkling, fertilizing, and trimming. That is when you realize that this lush, green grass can hold its own against any of the more popular decorative grasses that you pay so much more for.

    I do not expect to see gardening books written about Vetiver, but my good friend Tony Cisse, editor of the blog Pepiniere Naaj Baal in Senegal created a document called Vetiver Grass for Landscaping with a great photo collection. We have three and six-plant packs in our store that enjoy in your garden. Try it out . . .