|El Limonal, Imbabura, Ecuador|
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Ibarra - Imbabura, EC
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Posted by Piet Sabbe about 7 years ago
Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides) is a tropical grass from Indochina. The main characteristic is the vertical growth of the roots to a depth of 2…3 meters. Planted in hedges, along the contour line on the slope (see graphic) it develops – in about one year – into a strong barrier that stops run-off. The deposit of sediment behind the barrier results in ´induced terracing´. The distance between the hedges is calculated according to the inclination of the slope.
I have been using Vetiver for more than 15 years with excellent results. My farm is located in a subtropical valley, on the western slopes of the Andes, 1 000 m above sea level, with a precipitation of 1 500 mm/year. The whole region has been severely deforested during the past 65 years, resulting in a tremendous loss of fertile soil.
Vetiver is certainly not solving all problems related to erosion, but it is a powerful tool to stabilize hillsides and stop further depletion of the soil. For example, I have been able to perfectly stabilize a 50 m wide and 150 m long slope which, during every rainy season, sunk about 1,5 m.
In some cases, Vetiver is not a permanent solution but a pioneer intervention. One can plant trees between the hedges as part of a reforestation program or in an agroforestry set-up. During the first 3 or 4 years, when the trees are still small, Vetiver is the erosion controller. Later, as the trees grow and root deep in the ground, Vetiver will lose its importance because the tree roots will be able to stabilize the slope. Furthermore, Vetiver – like any other grass specie - will perish in the shade of trees. That´s when the time has come to dig up the Vetiver grass and plant it in another location where erosion control is needed.
For more information, see: www.vetiverconsultecuador.blogspot.com
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