Sugar cane farming is the main industry in Far North Queensland, which is prone to high rainfall and cyclonic weather. Therefore, sugarcane cropping on slopping land is extremely vulnerable to soil erosion. Traditional contour banks used to address these issues are costly to build and maintain, as they are easily damaged by farm machinery during normal farm operation and harvest. Due to these issues, farmers do not often adopt contour banks, and an effective solution for erosion control was required. Nutrients and agrochemicals used in the farming process were also an issue, as they spread to nearby waterways through runoff. An effective solution to trap these chemicals was needed.
Vetiver hedges were planted along contour lines to strengthen and stabilise the soil, offering above and below ground protection against erosion. The hedges also created a more natural water flow, increasing water infiltration and conserving soil moisture, which is important during times of drought. The Vetiver hedgerows act to effectively trap and absorb nutrients and agrochemicals, preventing these pollutants from reaching rivers and streams.
This Vetiver System application has been used successfully in Innisfail and Mareeba in Queensland, to protect land and crops against erosion, whilst also conserving soil moisture. These hedges are not damaged by farm operation and also survive burning, which means they are a permanent protection measure against erosion. The Vetiver hedgerows successfully trapped over 90% of phosphate, pesticides and herbicides, protecting nearby waterways.