Vetiver Farms Hawai'i  - Sustainable Engineering Solutions
Slope Stabilization / Erosion Control 
Miracle Grass
Utilized for hillsides, retaining walls, highways, roads, canals, rivers, parks, landfills and beaches.
Certified vetiver systems are equivalent to having twelve-foot steel plates in the ground while allowing soil and water to be filtered. 
One mature vetiver plant is comparable to a 4 inch diameter steel bar anchoring the soil twelve feet deep. Each root holds a 75 mpa tensile strength rating.
When this hedge properly locks together, you create an economical bio-engineering alternative to steel and concrete. This solution can far outlast conventional methods and leaves a positive impact on the environment. 
Cleaning of Residential and Industrial Waste Water (Bio-remediation)
Scientifically proven to drastically reduce nitrate and phosphate levels by up to 90%. Vetiver is nature's ultimate bio-remediation grass. Commonly used in cleaning algae blooms and waste water effluent treatment via a  constructed wetland with vetiver grass.  While will also trapping sediment.
Land Reclamation (Phyto-remediation)
Absorption of antibiotics,pesticides, herbicides and heavy metals  such as mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium, copper, zinc, selenium, nickel, and chromium. Vetiver will lock these metals within the root system and prevent leachates from further contaminating food and water sources.

Disaster Mitigation
An organic and economical alternative to concrete and steel engineering, vetiver roots absorb wave energy during earthquakes, stabilizing potential landslide sites.  The massive root system provides long term protection against earthquakes, fires, flooding and tsunamis.

Flood Prevention / Pasture Improvement
The drought and fire tolerant vetiver is used for ground water recharge and biomass. It will divert water and act as a slow release sponge for run-off. Vetiver is used around the world to improve pastures by increasing soil fertility and providing livestock forage with a high crude protein rate of 7-15%. This method is also used for establishing native trees.
Vetiver grass has an organic network of roots with a high tensile strength of 75 MPa or approximately 1/6th of steel. Giving it the nickname "Living Steel".
Vetiver is scientifically proven to remove heavy metals and antibiotics in soil as well as clean waste water by reducing nitrate and phosphate levels.
Sunshine Vetiver grass is non-invasive and has the lowest invasive species rating in Hawai'i of -8. 
Vetiver has been used for thousands of years but recent efforts of The Vetiver Network International  have promoted worldwide recognition and financial support from the World Bank and the King of Thailand.
Vetiver grass is an extraordinarily hardy plant, capable of thriving in extremely polluted, acidic, and harsh environments.  Most commonly seen in Third World countries with minimal resources, Vetiver is beginning to be planted worldwide as people are striving to use more environmentally friendly and economical practices.

Recent notes from Dick Grimshaw President of TVNI on waste water treatment, river bank erosion and more;
In most cities, towns, and villages in developing countries there is no connection to a public sewage/waste water treatment.  Where there is a connection the effluent is often discharged without treatment to near by rivers. Where there is no sewage system some properties may have septic tanks, and the majority of these leak and mis-function.  The result is that water tables, water bodies, and the local environment are polluted with consequential increases in foul smelling air, undrinkable water, and increased water borne diseases.  One such an example, described in a World Bank report on Indonesia describes the city of Palembang, South Sumatra, with a population of over a million having no direct sewage connections, and 70% of the households having septic tanks, of which 30% mis-function.

Correcting this situation with conventional costly technologies for Palembang, and tens of thousands of other urban centers in the tropics will be prohibitive and will take decades. It is essential to start installing low cost, flexible, and sustainable remedies, that might not be perfect, but are able to reduce the problems significantly.

The Vetiver Phytoremedial Technology (VPT) as developed by Paul Truong is one such solution.  It works, it is scalable, and can be installed in many cases by the user.  Planting vetiver around a septic tank would reduce much of the effluent and leakage; planting a vetiver hedge around the boundary of an urban garden would reduce rainfall runoff and the contaminates that it carries; planting vetiver around a miniscule urban lot would do the same, and might provide some privacy too!; and planting vetiver along the banks of urban drains would help remove contaminates and reduce the high levels of nitrates and phosphates that enter the drainage system from urban runoff. These are just a few of the benefits. 

Alois Kennerknecht of Peru has shown us how one man can change the thinking of residents of part of Lima (30 mm rainfall/year!) and is in the process of 
re-greening the area with vetiver. If you look at his photos you will see that, apart from re-greening, vetiver reduces erosion, reduces dust, reduces waste water flows (photos 59 to 65 show specific urban household waste water treatment applications), and provides forage and material for composting. A similar approach and more could be used for urban waste water management. In any such an approach the stakeholders (the city/block residents) have to be involved - they have to want to live in a cleaner environment - most of them do!  It has to be a bottom up driven process.  Of course local governments should help.

Here is an opportunity for urban "green" activists to get involved, here is something that is achievable.  Here is an opportunity for "Conservation Marketing" that I have been writing about - an opportunity for small entrepreneurs to start a business to install VPT on urban properties, and an opportunity for farmers in adjacent farming areas to provide quality plant material.  Everybody benefits, the city dweller, the vetiver supplier, the installer, and the city government.
Its all about "vision" and involving those impacted with this growing problem of managing urban waste. 
We are lucky to have dedicated and committed engineers like Shantanoo Bhattacharyya Executive Engineer, of Assam's (India) Public Works Department who has been working for the past eight years in applying vetiver for slope stabilization, particularly for stabilizing the banks of the mighty Brahmaputra River and its distributaries.  In his essay he describes diagrammatically the various types of river bank erosion problems and how they can be solved by either the Vetiver System as a stand alone technology or when necessary with other technologies.  On average the Brahmaputra in India is causing the loss of 8,400 ha of land a year.  Shantanoo shows how this can be reduced by using VS when applied correctly.  In fact when using vetiver there appears to be a net gain in silt deposition!  This photo essay, along with his comments, should provide some confidence to others who have to tackle similar daunting tasks.  I would like to underscore the importance that stabilizing river bank slopes can be extremely complex, and a knowledge of engineering is essential if the job is to be successful.  This means good design work, good application and supervision, and adequate follow up maintenance. Shantanoo also confirms the need: for community involvement (both for labor, plant propagation, and maintenance); for policy makers to include VS into the design requirements; and adequate numbers of trained professional staff to assure proper application.  Thank you Shantanoo!
Dick Grimshaw
Another Great Vetiver Success Story
Case Study: Paul Mwadime’s Vetiver grass Farm in Voi
For over a decade, Mr.Paul Mwadime has championed the cultivation of Vetiver grass in his home area of Voi in Kenya’s Taita Taveta County. Despite abounding challenges, he is widely sought after for his efforts to promote environmental conservation through growing of the grass.
“When I started cultivating Vetiver grass in Voi, none of the local farmers knew about it. I had tried to plant Napier grass but I realized that it could not sufficiently curb soil erosion. The local tree varieties which were recommended took a long time to mature yet the community needed a quick solution to land rehabilitation,” stated Mwadime.
Mwadime leased land and started a Vetiver nursery which he used to teach the community about the grass. He notes that some community members were skeptical about the viability of the project but after several forums with them, some took it up and are currently reaping maximally from it.
Mwadime has collaborated with various organizations including the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) and European Union. “In 2011, I was awarded a certificate of technical excellence by the Vetiver Network International for my efforts in promoting Vetiver technology in Kenya. During the Mashujaa day celebrations this year, I was also feted as an environmental hero. Recently, I sold Vetiver to a Non-Governmental Organization in Kajiado worth Shillings 150, 000 (US$ 1747).”
Most of the land in his home area is rehabilitated and the yields have improved tremendously. He has helped his community stabilize river banks like the Wundanyi River. “Several farmers have now started cultivating Vetiver alongside other crops. Some have ventured into fish farming and the Vetiver comes in handy as it stabilizes fish ponds.”
If taken up by the government and various stakeholders, cultivating Vetiver especially for the communities in the arid areas will go a long way in curbing desertification.
Mwadime can be contacted through his email:,
Great New article from Fiona Mahalo!
Vetiver grass: A solution for Land Rehabilitation
Written by Fiona Imbali
Cultivation of Vetiver grass (Chrysopogon zizanioides) is one of the best ways of preserving soil especially in dry lands. Its effectiveness has been proven through practice since more than 120 countries are documented as currently using it to rehabilitate degraded land. It can survive harsh climatic conditions and communities in dry land areas could also explore Vetiver grass’ commercial viability.
Baobab | Issue 65 | December 2012
Vetiver grass is known principally for soil and water conservation. Its deep root system enables it to tolerate extreme climatic conditions including prolonged droughts, flooding, fires and frost. It can tolerate a wide range of soil acidity levels and plays a vital role in clearing heavy metals from the soil. However, it is intolerant to shade. Dr. James Owino, a lecturer at Egerton University, notes that arid regions cover roughly a quarter of the global landmass, and an estimated 70 per cent of Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) experience moderate to severe desertification. More than 33 percent of Kenya’s population inhabits the ASALs. Vetiver grass’ lack of stolons (long stem or shoot) and rhizomes (a thick underground horizontal stem) enhances its drought-tolerant characteristics.“Vetiver grass could be used to support afforestation programs. When planted across the slope, it develops into a narrow barrier of stiff stem grass hedge that reduces soil loss and water runoff. The grass can provide a source of fodder for livestock as well as promote plant diversity which makes it an effective tool that could help combat desertification. Its strong root systems enables the soil to bind together ensuring that it can withstand the effects of tunneling and cracking. The roots grow downwards and thus do not compete with crops growing next to the hedge,” observes Dr. Owino.Currently in Kenya, Vetiver grass projects are mainly located in the Coast, Rift Valley, Nairobi, Nyanza, Eastern and Western provinces. 
"Dr. Paul Truong "

As soluble N and particularly P are usually considered to be key elements in water pollution, which normally leads to blue green algal bloom in inland waterways and lakes, the removal of these elements by vegetation is a most cost effective and environmentally friendly method of controlling algal growth. Research in China indicated that vetiver could remove dissolved nutrients and reduced algal growth within two days under experimental conditions (Anon, 1997). Therefore, VS can be used very effectively to control algal growth in water infested with blue-green algae. This can be achieved by planting vetiver on the edges of the streams or in the shallow parts of lakes where usually high concentrations of soluble N and P occurred. Alternatively vetiver can be grown hydroponically on floating platforms, which could be moved to the worst affected parts of the lake or pond. The advantages of this innovative floating platform method are that vetiver tops can be harvested easily for stock feed or mulch and vetiver roots can also be removed for essential oil production. Table 2: Efficiency of vetiver in removing N and P from polluted river water Growth time (week) 1 2 3 4 5 River water (I): Total P (mg/L) 0.30 0.083 0.007 0.009 Removable (%) 68.1 91.2 99.3 Total N (mg/L) 9.1 4.0 Removable (%) 34.1 71.0 River water (II): Total P (mg/L) 0.25 0.065 0.027 0.023 Removable (%) 75.8 93.7 97.4 97.8 Total N (mg/L) 5.76 4.40 2.71 Removable (%) 45.1 58.1 74.2 3.3 Control of Agrochemical Pollution • Sediment filter Herbicides and pesticides applied to farmlands are important for controlling weed and insect pests in crops but this practice, if not properly managed, can lead to serious off-site contamination of the surrounding environment. In particular, residues of these chemicals can adversely affect flora and fauna in downstream aquatic Blogging News-

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