In this edition of The Overstory, special guest author Michael Pease, Coordinator of the European and Mediterranean Vetiver Network, describes the uses of vegetative erosion barriers, highlighting their use in agroforestry.
Vegetative Erosion Barriers
The problems of retaining soil, water and plant nutrients where they can support timber growth and fruit production are critical to productive agroforestry. Yet we are steadily losing our soil resource and much of our water and plant nutrients is lost in run-off.
Previously, solutions to problems of soil erosion and to soil and water run-off have been sought mainly from earthworks and engineered constructions. However, such structures often prove to be costly, ineffective, and unsustainable. The solution lies in permanent, vegetative barriers planted on the contour. There is an upright, tufted, deep-rooted and very dense grass that is proving to be one of the prime tools in providing a solution to these problems, particularly in tropical countries. It is called Vetiveria zizanioides or vetiver grass.