Vetiver Grass

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       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
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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
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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
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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.
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     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
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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.
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     Tiller Preparation and Vetiver Cultivation on Farm Land




Patterns of Vetiver Cultivation According to Different Conditions
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     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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Description: 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.