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Physical characteristics

Vetiver grass has neither above ground or under ground runners and a massive finely structured root system, reaches down to 2-3 m in the first year. This massive and thick root system bind the soil and at the same time makes it very difficult to be dislodged. This very deep root system has also made vetiver very tolerant to drought; it did not only survive but continued to grow through the worst droughts in the 1990's. In addition, vetiver has the following desirable characteristics:

  • Stiff and erect stems which can stand up to relatively deep water flow (0.6-0.8m).
  • Dense hedges when planted close together, reduce flow velocity and form a very effective filter.
  • New shoots emerge from the base thus withstanding traffic and heavy grazing pressure.
  • New roots are developed from nodes when buried by trapped sediment. Vetiver will continue to grow with the new ground level eventually forming terraces, if trapped sediment is not removed.

If planted along contours across the slope, the clump which stands above the ground will produce tillers, forming a green hedge. This thus makes it capable of trapping crop residues and silts which are eroded by runoff and enabling them to naturally form an earth embankment. Since vetiver grass has a deep thick root system which spreads vertically rather than horizontally, it can efficiently endure harsh conditions. The roots densely bind together like an underground curtain or wall enabling it to store water and moisture. However, since the root system expands sideway up to only 50 cm., it imposes no obstacle to the nearby plants and is thus considered an effective measure for soil and water conservation. Vetiver hedgerows maintain soil moisture and soil surface and at the same time, are suitable for cultivating along with economic crops.

Growing vetiver grass is simple, applicable and money-saving. The practice can lead to the strengthening and sustainability of the farming system in rain-fed areas and can be applied in other areas for preservation and conservation of natural resources such as along the banks of the irrigation canals, reservoirs or ponds along the road shoulders and the approach of a bridge, as well as in forests.






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