05 Apr 5 WAYS VETIVER GRASS TECHNOLOGY CAN ASSIST IN NATIVE REVEGETATION!
Australia is very protective of its native environment and with good reason. The increase in environmental awareness has resulted in the growing initiative of revegetation programs that respect the natural environment by using indigenous plants for reforestation. But what happens when this rigid view creates a restrictive native revegetation program, which can actually serve to be ineffective in the protection and rehabilitation of land and water? When do we start to question ourselves about what it is to be truly responsible to environmental protection? Maybe in creating space to seek all appropriate answers to this question, we will uncover environmental rehabilitation options that will assist in effective long-term native revegetation and reforestation.
The truth is, we are no longer working within a pure native landscape. We exist in a world of introduced species and an environment that has been contaminated and destroyed by human use. The idea is to return this environment to its natural functioning state, however the damage we have done may make it impossible for natives alone to fix the problem.
Australian native species are predominately adapted to the natural unpolluted and clean Australian environment. With the increase in pollutants: chemical fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides and heavy metal contaminants now present in the Australian environment, our natives can no longer thrive. This is why we need to widen our aperture and look further afield, to find realistic and workable solutions to assist in the rehabilitation, revegetation and reclamation of our natural environment.
Human development has lead to deforestation and destruction for resource mining, habitation and agricultural production practices resulting in degraded and uninhabitable soil and water. Many of these practices have detrimental impacts on the surrounding environment, whilst creating conditions that preclude native vegetation from surviving. It is therefore necessary to create the correct environmental conditions to allow for native revegetation and reforestation. This is where Vetiver Grass Technology can help.
THE VETIVER SYSTEM SOLUTION
Vetiver System Technology is a unique system designed around the use of an exceptional plant, Vetiver grass (Chrysopogon zizanioides). Vetiver has a myriad of uses and applications based on its extraordinary morphological and physiological characteristics. In this case Vetiver can perform a much-needed task, acting as a pioneer, a nurse plant to bring soil and water back to life, supporting native revegetation.
There are no known native plants that can compare to the properties and applications of Vetiver grass, especially in land stabilisation and rehabilitation. Vetiver has been used in Australia for 100+ years and has been certified as Monto Vetiver for Australian application. Used both in Australia and internationally, Vetiver has rehabilitated contaminated lands, allowing for natives to once again grow and flourish.
NO WEED POTENTIAL
The main concern and a very real one about the use of non-natives is that they can become a weed and therefore act as a threat to the native ecosystem. However, this is not the case in all plant species. Vetiver grass has NO WEED POTENTIAL, due to the fact that it has no above or under ground runners, and although it flowers it does not set seeds (similar to sugarcane). Simply put, Vetiver is a sterile grass and therefore poses no threat to the environment and other vegetation, both native and/or introduced species.
It is Vetiver’s unique attributes that make it superior to Australian natives for environmental rehabilitation, protection and land stabilisation purposes. These attributes include:
- Tolerance to extremely adverse growing environment:
- High soil salinity, acidity and alkalinity conditions,
- Heavy metal contaminants, agrochemicals and excess nutrients
- Prolonged drought and inundation
- Penetrating, long and extensive root system:
- Generates and improves soil microbial activity, which is essential for the removal of contaminants in soil and water
- Absorbs and treats toxicities in soil and water
- Aids efficient nutrient cycling, improving soil fertility
- Reinforces, binds, stabilises and strengthens soil
- Highly adaptable to various soil types, from beach sand, and heavy clay to decomposing rocks
HOW VETIVER SYSTEM TECHNOLOGY CAN ASSIST IN NATIVE REVEGETATION
The requirements for effective land rehabilitation and revegetation are broad. Vetiver Grass Technology has the unique capacity to address a multitude of needs for soil and water rehabilitation and protection, in order to assist in the creation of conditions conducive for native establishment and reforestation.
- CLEANING AND IMPROVING SOIL
The massive and complex root system of Vetiver grass, combined with its fast and high yield biomass, allow Vetiver to remove a higher quantity of nutrients and toxicities from contaminated soil than most hyperaccumulators. This makes Vetiver the ideal bioremediation tool for the treatment of contaminated land and water, ensuring it has the capacity to support further vegetation and assisting in the recreation of functional ecosystems.
Agrochemical pollution not only threatens the area of application but the excess nutrients also impact the surrounding environment, both soil and water. Vetiver possesses the ability to absorb elevated nutrient levels, particularly of the two most common agrochemical pollutants, Nitrogen and Phosphorous. Vetiver can effectively treat 170L/m2 per day, reducing average total Nitrogen from 68mg/L to 0.13mg/L, average total Phosphorous from 11mg/L to 0.15mg/L.
- LAND REGENERATION
Vetiver possesses superior capabilities to address a variety of toxicities for pollution control and the rehabilitation of contaminated lands. It has an exceptional tolerance to adverse soil conditions and elevated levels of heavy metals, including:
Vetiver Grass Technology has been successfully applied for the regeneration of land in Australia and over 100 countries globally, including for minesite rehabilitation of gold, coal, bentonite and bauxite mines.
- WATER PURIFICATION
Vetiver’s capacity to absorb and tolerate elevated nutrient levels and toxic contaminants extends to application in water-based situations. Vetiver is a hydrophyte, which means that it can grow in water, making it an exceptional plant for the phytoremediation of contaminated water. It is the combination of these characteristics that makes Vetiver so remarkable for water purification, as it treats and absorbs nutrients, pollutants and heavy metal toxicities. Vetiver can therefore act to improve water quality, helping to protect and restore the environment to a more natural system, which is conducive to the return of native fauna and flora.
- WATER PROTECTION
Not only can Vetiver Grass Technology improve water quality but it can also protect water by stopping contaminants before they enter waterways. It is the composition of Vetiver’s stem and root network that allow it to work so magnificently to protect water and waterways. The dense and interlocking root matrix creates underground dam walls, absorbing excess nutrients and toxicities from both soil and water flows. Whilst the aboveground hedgerows, created by the long, stiff and thick shoots of the grass trap fine sediments with their attached fertilisers, pesticides and heavy metals.
These capacities allow Vetiver to protect water by trapping sediments and remediating present contaminants, reducing or eliminating them from the environment. Stopping the spread of these contaminants is the essential first step in protecting our waterways and the surrounding native environment.
- LAND STABILISATION
The artificial alteration of our natural landscape, combined with agricultural land practices has led to erosion and slope instability, which in turn gives rise to larger environmental sedimentation issues.
There is no Australian native plant that can compare to Vetiver’s unique land stabilisation attributes. The root matrix of Vetiver grass is stronger than most tree roots, growing to depths of up to 5 metres. With the interlocking nature of these root systems, Vetiver Grass Technology creates dense underground root walls, which bind, reinforce and stabilise the soil, effectively the system works as living nails. The thick and stiff stems create strong hedges, which dissipate wind and water energy, slow down water flow, trap sediment and control water runoff. These hedges act to protect the topsoil, ensuring that it remains in place and overtime create natural barriers to flow by trapping soil and sediments.
Vetiver Grass Technology works both above and below ground to provide the necessary structural strength and protection mechanisms to address the main causes of slope instability and erosion, which is essential for effective land rehabilitation, stabilisation and protection, to allow for native revegetation.
Currently the native that is most commonly used for land stabilisation in tropical and subtropical Australia is Lomandra. As a native species it does possess properties making it adaptable to Australian climatic conditions, however when compared with Vetiver, it is inferior for effective erosion control and stabilisation and cannot address soil and water contaminants. Check out our Vetiver versus Lomandra infographic for more info.
Ultimately Vetiver Grass Technology can contribute to the protection and rehabilitation of our lands and waterways in a multitude of ways, supporting the process for long-term native revegetation and reforestation. Vetiver is a pioneer plant, which can grow under extremely adverse conditions, improving soil fertility and water infiltration, creating a favourable microclimate for the return of local native species. The natives have the potential to eventually outgrow Vetiver, allowing for effective long-term native revegetation and reforestation.