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Vetiver Plants Cultivation: Preventing Erosion and Other Benefits

Updated: Mar 22



Akar wangi (Vetiver plants) are herbal plants that have a fragrant aroma and are used in various applications, including as ornamental plants, raw materials for herbal teas, and as kitchen spices.

 

Vetiver comes from a plant with the scientific name Vetiveria Zizanioides from the Poaceae family. Vetiveria comes from the word Vetiver which in Tamil means "root that is dug up". This means that roots are able to grow through the soil layers. Indeed, the branching structure of the plant's roots is so massive that it can help prevent erosion. The roots are adventitious roots and can be woven into a mat-like formation.

 

This plant comes from India, however, it now grows abundantly in Asia, Africa and South America. In Pakistan, cultivation is carried out in all provinces because it has high economic value.

 

People from various tribes in India really understand the use of vetiver for health. They make a paste from the root powder or use its distilled essential oils directly. Usually used to treat fever, headaches, inflammation, diarrhoea and sexual disorders. The essential oil vapor can be used to treat fever in malaria. The paste is easier to apply for rheumatism and snakebite wounds.



Preventing Landslides with Vetiver Root Plants

Landslides are one of the disasters that threaten during the rainy season. But landslide disasters can actually be prevented in various ways, one of which is by planting plants that have the ability to prevent landslides and erosion.

 

Vetiver plants are often used to prevent landslides but also has several other benefits, as we have seen above and its leaves can also absorb carbon, repel pests, and even be used as a paper base.

 

Meanwhile, the roots can bind the soil, so they can prevent landslides, floods, improve water quality, protect infrastructure, absorb toxins, and fertilize the soil.

 

Even though it has various benefits, in Indonesia this plant is only used as an essential oil producer. In fact, abroad, especially in India these plants are widely used for various ecological and phytoremediation purposes (improving the environment with plants).

 

Vetiver roots can also be used for cliff stabilization with Vetiver Grass Technology (VGT) or Vetiver System (VS) technology. VS is a simple, low-cost technology that utilizes live vetiver plants for soil and water conservation, as well as environmental protection.

 

Apart from being cheap, this technology is also practical, easy to maintain, and very effective in controlling soil erosion and sedimentation, water conservation, and land stabilization and rehabilitation.

 

VS is also easy to control because it does not produce flowers and seeds, so its growth does not grow wild like reeds. What makes vetiver special is its root system. This plant has fibrous roots and is able to penetrate the ground, its roots can even reach 5.2 meters and penetrate hard, rocky soil and other hard layers up to 15 cm thick.

 

These roots work like iron columns that penetrate the layers of soil texture. At the same time, the roots also hold soil particles with their roots and are able to prevent erosion due to wind and water.



The Many Benefits of Vetiver Root:

Apart from the ecological benefits, the leaves and roots are "cooling", so they can be used as bedding, and can be used on the skin as an antidote to sunburn and the  treatment of various skin diseases.

 


  • Traditional Medicine

The essential oil extracted from vetiver has been used in traditional medicine in several cultures. This fresh vetiver flavour can be used to relieve stress, reduce anxiety, and help overcome sleep problems.

 

  • Spices and Seasonings

The benefits of vetiver include being used as a spice and seasoning in several dishes, especially in South Asian cuisine. Vetiver can impart a unique aroma and taste to dishes such as biryani and some curry dishes.

 

  • Water Purifier

Vetiver also has cleansing abilities. This plant can absorb and remove pollutants such as heavy metals from groundwater, making it useful in solving water pollution problems.

 

  • Decorative Plants

Vetiver plants are also used as ornamental plants because of their green leaves, slender stems, and ability to thrive in areas with long dry seasons.


  • Perfume Industry

The unique aroma of vetiver is used in the perfume industry. Vetiver oil is often used as a base ingredient in making perfume, especially perfume with a woody or earthy aroma.

 

  • Anti-Premature Aging

Vetiver has been used for skin care, especially to maintain skin integrity through the presence of the skin's lipid (fat) layer. Decreased skin lipid levels cause easy wrinkles, thereby accelerating aging.

To prove this, French researchers conducted tests on human cell cultures. What was tested was the dregs extract from distilling vetiver oil. It turns out, it is true that the extract can stimulate the formation of the fat layer which maintains the integrity of the skin.

 

  • Improve Memory Ability

Essential oils can work directly on the central nervous system, aka the brain, by inhaling them through the nose. Vetiver oil has been tested for its efficacy, namely reducing anxiety and improving memory. Also, it improves other cognitive functions such as increased alertness, attention, decision making, and problem solving.

 

Joint researchers from several Indian pharmaceutical faculties conducted experiments on mice that were given drugs to cause anxiety and memory impairment. Next, the mice were given ethanol extract of vetiver and the results were seen using a special tool to observe behaviour. As a comparison in this experiment, anti-anxiety drugs were used.



Planting

Planting vetiver should be done at the beginning of the rainy season. This is because vetiver requires sufficient water at the beginning of its growth.

If vetiver is planted outside the rainy season, watering should be done regularly twice a day in the morning and evening. The way to plant vetiver plants is by placing the chosen vetiver plants bulb in the planting hole. Then cover the planting hole with soil and compact it.

 

Nursery

Vegetative root plant propagation can be done vegetatively using root tubers. Vetiver root tubers are taken from plants in clumps that do not have flowers.

Then, it is broken so that each fragment has a shoot. The bulbs can be planted directly in the land.

 

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