Vetiver isn't the only erosion-control technique, of course. Others include the following:

  • Engineered systems, such as terraces, rock walls, and earthen berms and bunds;

  • Plants that spread over the land;

  • Broad (as opposed to narrow) strips of grass;

  • Tied ridges;

  • Contour cultivation, mulches, crop rotations, strip-cropping, and no-till farming; and

  • Forestry, agroforestry, and living fences.

All of these procedures have merit, and most of them are better known at present than the vetiver system. Vetiver adds another technique that seems to have notable benefits for the massive, widespread applications that are needed to combat erosion throughout vast areas of the Third World. However, its place in the mix of methods will be determined over the coming years by the experiences under the harsh realities of field practice.

Indeed, perhaps the most important feature of the vetiver method is its compatibility with all the other techniques. Vetiver is already being planted in several countries to reinforce and improve the stability of terraces, berms, and bunds. It has outstanding promise as a "safety line" to anchor broad strips of other grasses, such as napier grass. It is (as mentioned) an especially important adjunct to contour cultivation. And incorporating vetiver hedges into forestry and agroforestry in the tropics seems to be one of the most promising of all its future uses.

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