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Vetiver grass in soil and water conservation especially in highland area. A very important aspect that has been encouraged by his majesty the king has been to encourage a greater blending of using Vetiver grass in harmony with local farming method. The aim is to conserve and efficiently use soil and water resources, while also providing a sustainable source of income for resource-poor farmers, including hill tribes. Vetiver possesses certain attributes suitable for soil and water conservation purposes. Vetiver root serve as an under ground barrier, holding the soil together and retaining water, as well as absorbing plant nutrients and hazardous chemical substance which, as a result, help to reduce environment pollution. Contour planting of vitiver across slopes and along roadside helps trap silt and crop residues while letting water the flow though.
1 The advantage of Vetiver Grass on the Royal Project’s Highland Development Area in Thailand Abstract I am Sawitree Chomram have served His Majesty the king initiatives on using Vetiver grass in soil and water conservation especially in highland area. A very important aspect that has been encouraged by his majesty the king has been to encourage a greater blending of using Vetiver grass in harmony with local farming method. The aim is to conserve and efficiently use soil and water resources, while also providing a sustainable source of income for resource-poor farmers, including hill tribes. Vetiver possesses certain attributes suitable for soil and water conservation purposes. Vetiver root serve as an under ground barrier, holding the soil together and retaining water, as well as absorbing plant nutrients and hazardous chemical substance which, as a result, help to reduce environment pollution. Contour planting of vitiver across slopes and along roadside helps trap silt and crop residues while letting water the flow though. This effectively reduces soil erosion and prevents surface runoff. Vetivers is also planted around the base of fruit trees and perennial tree on the plains, and on dry deteriorated areas in order to retain rainwater in the soil, while Vetiver leaves are also use for mulching to maintain soil moisture. Therefore the appropriate use of Vetiver can help to increase crop production and also farmer’s incomes. Promoting a sustainable agriculture production system that enables farmers to live sufficiently from production on their own land. In this study the advantages of Vetiver grass were investigated in the royal project highland development areas. The project highland development has five provinces. They are located in the upper northern region of Thailand, namely Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Lumphun, and Pa Yao. The use of Vetiver Grass has been increasing, both in order to conserve soil and water, and also for planting. In last year we can see it was planted along the 57.06 km of roadside, and across 3314 Rai of land for soil and water conservation. This planting increased both crop production and farmers’ income. Also in this study, hill tribes farmers in the royal project in Ban Nor Lae, Ang Kang, Fang District. Chiang Mai, who produce organic vegetables, were studied. They were able improve their land by using the vitiver grass as a green manure fertilizer and as mulching for their vegetable. As result they yields increased by 38.62% and this enable them to increase 2 heir income by 15.26% last year. In addition to increasing yields, the Vetiver grass also help to preserve the environment by reducing pollution from the fields. Introduction In the mountain northern Thailand one of the major causes of soil degradation is soil erosion. Over half the region is of a gradient greater than 35 %, where soil erosion is serious problem as the heavy monsoon rain wash away exposed topsoil and leach out organic matter and minerals. The traditional farming system practiced in these hills was shifting cultivation. This type of farming has been ecologically sustainable in the north for centuries. However, a decline in forest cover, an increase in population and land use restrictions have led to a decline in follow periods for some types of shifting cultivation, and subsequently a decline in soil fertility and an increase in soil erosion. Those farmers who have traditionally practiced shifting cultivation in the uplands come from various ethnic groups, who have equally diverse farming practices and crop preferences. Shifting cultivation, described as slash and burn after the manner of clearing land for cultivation, is cited as environmentally degrading. However, this is not necessarily true and it depends very much on the population density, land availability and the form of shifting cultivation practiced. Population increases and subsequent pressure for land has also forced many ethnic Thai farmers in to the northern hills, where they are now thought to be in the majority. Various development and conservation policies, which initially had the dual aims of eradicating opium production and increasing national security, now focus on preservation of natural resources such as forests and watersheds, particularly through soil and water conservation projects. These initiatives have encouraged the replacement of opium farming and shifting cultivation with the cash crops and intensive permanent agriculture, and helped rural farmers gain access to lowland markets. These policies have resulted in the transformation of the farming practice and livelihood of the farmers living in the uplands. Shifting cultivation takes advantage of fallow period to allow soil regeneration, control weed populations and minimizes the time land is exposed to erosion, and is based on centuries of accumulated ecological knowledge. Farming a plot permanently, however, require soil conservation 3 measures to prevent soil degradation, which would threaten the sustainability of land use, particularly on fragile sloping land. Failure to implement such practices will result in soil degradation, and perhaps irreversible deterioration of permanently farmed agriculture land. Land User and Land Use The main ethnic minorities exploiting the hill are the Karen, Hmong, Lahu, Yao, Ahka, Khamu and Lua. The Karen are considered indigenous to Thailand, as well as Myanmar and Laos, and they are the largess hill tribe group making up about 46% of the total hill tribe population Each group traditional practiced their own variation of shifting cultivation, and it is possible to use a crude classification system to distinguish between the different types. In this system there are three categories of shifting cultivation: long cultivation-very long follow (pioneer shifting cultivation), short cultivation-long fallow (rotational cultivation) and short cultivation-short fallow. In the pass was possible to assign these different types along ethnic lines, however as result of government policies and land pressure, the farming type by ethnicity alone. It is not only ethnic minorities who practice shifting cultivation. Thai farmers also have history of shifting cultivation, which used to be applied as first step to converting forested land into rice paddies. Population pressure leading to land scarcity in the lowlands has forced some Thai farmers onto the slopes where many have been identified as practicing short cultivation- short fallow shifting cultivation, using the land for one or two years then leaving it fallow for further one or two years. Some reports suggest that the number of Thai shifting cultivators is now higher than that of ethnic minorities. Development and conservation in the highland We have to eradicate opium production encouraged replacement with cash crops through projects such as royal project. The projects’ goals are to eradicate opium cultivation through substitution with the permanent cultivation of temperate crops, which are suitable for the cooler conditions in the hill, and preservation of watershed. There are 5 provinces involved in the project such as Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son and Payao. There were some initial problems with the project in getting farmers to switch from shifting cultivation to permanent cash crop farming. Farmers sometimes found that to earn an income from cash crops comparable to the income they gained from opium cultivation. It was necessary to clear greater 4 areas of the forest to plant more crops. Growing the new cash crops rapidly exhausts the soil’s nutrient reserves and needs ever increasing fertilizer application to get the same yield. Farmer began to use large quantities of chemical fertilizer, which breaks down quickly under tropical condition Insecticides and herbicides were also require in increasing quantities, as pest and weed populations were no longer controlled through intermittent burning as shifting cultivation. For those still practicing shifting cultivation, the push towards cash crops has reduce the opportunity for fallow period due to the growing competition for and, and this has caused further soil degradation. These environment problems are the by-product of the measures introduced tackle the more pressing social problem of opium growth. Cultivation of Vetiver Grass Vetiver grass is grown for a range of benefits such as to prevent soil erosion, to preserve soil moisture and to rehabilitate deteriorated land. Therefore, the method of cultivation will depend on the location and the desired aim of the cultivation. For steep, in order to reduce soil erosion Vetiver grass should be cultivated in contour lines across the slopes or in a semi-circle around each tree facing uphill. On flat land Vetiver leaves are used for mulching to preserve soil moisture and conserve rain water in the soil, and also to restore deteriorated land by enriching the organic contents and translocation mineral from the lower layers to the upper layers of the soil via the grass roots. On such flat land Vetiver grass can be cultivated in a single or integrated pattern such as in rows, semi-circles, or circles, for deeply erode gully, Vetiver grass should be planted in an inverted “V” shape and extent along the length of the gully at different heights in fishbone pattern at 1.0 m. interval. This will retard gully erosion and allow water to penetrate into the soil. Alternatively the Vetiver could be planted horizontally across the gully to trap slit which will eventually fill up the gully. On critically deteriorated land, it is vital to shape Vetiver clumps and strengthen them by planting more rows. Vetiver grass cultivation also helps to maintain water quality for human consumption and raising aquatic animals by preventing silting up of water sources and preventing chemical substances from flowing into the water sources. The method of cultivation around water sources varies according to the type of water sources, e.g. around reservoirs, ponds, irrigation and drainage canals and along roadsides. 5 Utilization of Vetiver Grass The utilization of Vetiver grass can be classified according to the pattern of land use as fallow. In the paddy fields, it can be planted along the edge of the dikes surrounding the paddy fields to mark the boundary. In addition its leaves can be used as mulch for vegetables and field crops in the paddy fields after the harvesting season. In field crop plots in low-lying areas, Vetiver grass should be grown in rows alternating with the field crops. Its leaves can also be used as mulching between the rows of field crops to maintain soil moisture. For plots of vegetables or ornamental and floral plants, Vetiver grass can be grow along the raised beds or around the plots of vegetables or ornament and floral plants. Its leaves can be cut off and used for covering the soil surface in place of rice straw which was the traditional covering used, but is now difficult to find. It also prevents erosion of the raised beds. For plots of fruit trees, rubber and palm trees, especially in existing orchards, Vetiver leaves can serve as mulch covering the base of the trees to help maintain soil moisture and prevent soil erosion. For newly established orchards on deteriorated, dry and abandoned land, Vetiver leaves should be trimmed off and then also used as ground cover to conserve soil moisture and maintain soil fertility, eventually transforming the land to fertile forest. There are many models for growing Vetiver grass in integrated farming. The uses of Vetiver grass in each type of farming are accordingly different. In steep sloping areas, the benefits of Vetiver grass are diverse, ranging from covering the ground as mulch to preserve soil moisture, increasing organic content in the soil, enabling the translocation of plant nutrient from the lower layers to help upper layers of soil, to reducing the risk of erosion. On the other hand, on flat land with deteriorated soil, the advantage of Vetiver grass has been clearly demonstrated in term of rehabilitation of soil and improvement of soil and moisture Materials and method In this study the data was gathered from Vetiver grass work in progress in the royal project. The technology transfer had been studied with regard t soil improvement for organic farming system in Ban Nor Lae, Ang Khang the royal project, Fang district, Chiang Mai. Soil properties were analyzed to 6 prove how was Vetiver grass conserved soil and water. Moreover, crop production and an income were also investigated after the farmer utilized Vetiver grass in their land. Planting Vetiver Grass There are many models for growing vetiver grass in the plots where integrated farming is being implemented. Since the integrated farming system is characterized by biodiversity which comprises single cropping and integrated cropping systems and differences in terms of topography, the uses of vetiver grass in each pattern of farming are accordingly different. In steep slopy areas, the benefits of vetiver grass are diverse ranging from covering the ground as mulch to preserve soil moisture, increasing organic content in the soil, enabling the translocation of plant nutrients from the lower layers to the upper layers of soil, to reducing the risk of erosion. On the other hand, on flat land with deteriorated soil, the advantage of vetiver grass is demonstrated emphasizingly with regards to nourishment or rehabilitation of soil and improvement of soil moisture. Cultivation of vetiver grass in rows: With a spacing of 6.0 m., vetiver leaves can be trimmed off to use for mulching approximately 1.8-2.6 tons/rai/year which provides nutrients composed of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus at about 17-44, 1-6 and 36-80 kilograms/Rai/year respectively. Cultivation of vetiver grass in a circle on flat land (at a radius of 2.0 m.) or in areas with mild slopes but existing in different directions: Vetiver leaves can be trimmed off to use for mulching, approximately 50-70 kilograms/year which increases soil moisture up to 35% Cultivation of vetiver grass in various patterns of integrated farming with fruit crops as the dominating plant: Vetiver hedgerows can reduce the quantity of runoff and the intensity of soil erosion by 2-6 and 6-36 times respectively. It was found that the amount of runoff and the rate of soil erosion decreased to the minimum level in the plots with pineapple as the intercropping plant and contrastingly, remained at the maximum level in the plots with banana as the intercrossing plant. 7 Tiller Preparation and Vetiver Cultivation on Farm Land Patterns of Vetiver Cultivation According to Different Conditions 8 Conclusion There are various advantage of Vetiver grass in the royal project’s highland development area in Thailand. The pattern of planting and utilization on difference types of land also vary, depending on the precise objectives. In this paper we studied Vetiver grass utilization in organic vegetable production in Ban Nor lae, Ang Khang the royal project, Fang Districts in Chiang Mai. Vetiver grass helped to preserve soil moisture for extended periods when the farmers used it to cover their plots. Moreover, it also increased the fertility of the soil after decomposition. The appropriate use of Vetiver grass can help to increase crop production and also farmer’s incomes, promoting a sustainable agricultural production system that enables farmers to live sufficiently from production on their own land.
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