Vetiver Cultivation, Benefits of Farming and Profit

Vetiver, The wonder crop with immense benefits.

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Some crops are growing for profit, others are grown to enrich the soil. We all know the commercial crops we grow. Rice, maize, vegetables, fruits, etc. Some commercial crops of medicinal plants are also common but then, from time to time some crops are used to enrich soil conditions. Cowpea is often used to enrich the soil with urea and balance soil nutrition. Danja plant is also a common nitrogen-fixing plant that is commonly used in rice plantations during the rest period. 

Alternative cropping is very common in traditional farming practices and the plants are specifically chosen. But some crops are not practiced as alternative crops but are extremely \beneficial in increasing soil conditions and nutrition. Vetiver is one of the few plants which is underutilized and slowly gaining popularity.

In the north, vetiver is known as Kush (which is different from Khus Khus or the poppy seed or basil seeds). Khus is a cooling plant, used in ayurvedic medicine. The use of khus is very popular in perfumes and sherbet. The flavor is earthy and the fragrance is often referred to as cut grass on a summer morning. Refreshing and cool.

But the plant has its range of benefits too

  1. Drought tolerant: Many plants and grasses are known to die when summer arrives. Lack of water and irrigation is a common problem among many plants and farmers incur the loss. Some plants may grow in drought-tolerant areas but not in areas where flooding is common. Vetiver is a very hardy grass that can grow in almost any condition in India. From Rajasthan to Himachal, chances are that vetiver can be grown.  It wouldn’t be amazing if someone tries planting vetiver in Kashmir where it snows. Chances are the plant will survive the frost and come back year after year.
  2. The deep root system helps penetrate the soil, loosening it up: Clay soil is rich in a wide range of minerals but plants do not thrive in clay soil. The roots find it hard to penetrate the soil as much as they would like to. With dense soil, chances are very few plants will be able to grow and it’s not uncommon to see areas with clay soil and good irrigation infested with a range of weeds.  Vetiver helps with soil penetration. The roots are known to go as deep as one meter deep in a  year and even in clay soil, the root penetration is a log higher than most other plants. With higher root penetration, soil usually loosens up a bit. With continuous vetiver plantation, it’s possible to grow a range of other plants in the area after a year or two. 
  3. Can be grown in any soil conditions: Unlike many other plants, vetiver is not dependent on soil conditions. It can grow in full sandy soil, clay soil, red soil, or black soil. With proper irrigation, the plants are known to grow at the rate of 4 feet in just 6 weeks while without irrigation, the plants will grow at a slower pace but will rarely die. Whatever the soil conditions, growing vetiver is not a problem.
  4. Pest resistant: If you are cultivating vetiver for commercial purposes and not to enrich your soil, be happy to know that vetiver is not a crop that invites pests. It is resistant to a wide range of pests and can repel a very small number of them. It is tolerant of hogs, which is a common problem in farms near forest areas. In general, it’s not bothered by pests or insects at all and is a hands-free crop that requires NO pesticides at all.
  5. Prevents weeds. Vetiver by itself does nothing to prevent weeds but the grass grows up to 5 feet every other month. The grass is cut and used as mulch which prevents weeds from forming. Apart from preventing weeds, the cut grass on the topsoil enables the growth of bacteria and enriches the soil over some time. The vetiver grass is a wonderful ingredient for compost creation high in nitrogen, the vetiver grass balances the compost nutrients to be much more efficient.
  6. Prevents soil erosion: Vetiver grass grows up to 1 meter every year. The roots are fibrous and help prevent soil erosion. Vetiver grass is the most common and widely used plant to prevent soil erosion in many parts of the world. From arid areas to areas where flooding is common, Vetiver has proven one of the best plants to prevent soil erosion.
  7. Fire resistance: fire is a common problem in farms and forests. While some fires are intentional, others are accidental. Either way, there are few plants or crops which can survive the fire. Vetiver plants are so hardy that they will survive a full forest fire and come back the first rain and thrive in the next few months without any external interference. While this may be the rarest of rarest conditions, if you are worried about fire, have no concern when it comes to vetiver.
  8. Soil nutrient enrichment: what are the benefits of vetiver when it comes to soil enrichment? Does it fix nitrogen? Does it increase any minerals? Vetiver helps in nitrogen fixation bacteria though it does not fix nitrogen by itself. It’s a catalyst to all nitrogen-fixing bacteria. It’s also a stabilizer for phosphorus. More than 50% of the phosphorus is not usable for plants. This changes with the incorporation of vetiver. More phosphorus is available to plants now with vetiver in the soil.
  9. Fodder for Livestock: Vetiver is a common fodder crop, beneficial for livestock from goats, cattle, horses, pigs, and even wildlife. With 100 Tonnes per hectare, Vetiver is one of the largest producers of biomass. 3 times more than Rhodes and up to 5 times more than Kikuyu grass.
    Ref: https://www.vetiver.org/TVN_VS_GAL_PUB/VS_Forage_o.pdf

Economics of Vetiver Cultivation – Profit from vetiver Per acre

Before we delve into profit and loss, let us also consider certain other factors. Vetiver is one of the few crops which can grow in literally any kind of soil and weather conditions. There are no irrigation requirements though irrigation is favorable. It tolerates drought and flood. Soil, if infertile or fertile, plant will sustain itself. Chances are over the years, the soil condition improves and balances out. 

Considering these factors, it is advised that you plant vetiver in between orchards, in wastelands, and the sides of streams, canals, and ponds on your farm. Though the cultivation of vetiver is possible in full-fledged farmland, this model is often not the best practice.

Vetiver farming in between teres in orchards is one of the most profitable ways to utilize the area for intercropping. Apart from the yield of the vetiver itself after a year, the benefits of mulching the land with vetiver grass prevent other weed formation. The benefits of vetiver grassroots for nitrogen fixation, soil aeration, and balancing soil nutrients adds more value and reduce use of fertilizers and chemicals in the farm. to make things better, vetiver is free from any pests which makes it suitable for any kind of orchard.

Its also to be taken into consideration that vetiver farming is not new. Overproduction and the inability to sell their products are not common in many parts of India. One such area is Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu. 

Unlike food produces, Vetiver is not sold in mandi‚Äôs and it has a very niche market in the perfumery and handicraft industry. Today, the price of vetiver has dropped from 160 to 60 Rs due to overproduction and lack of market. 

Considering these facts, it is important to be wary of the market when cultivating Vetiver.

Vetiver Production as an intercrop in Mango Orchards, especially young ones who are less than 5 years old and have plenty of space in between is profitable. Other plantations include coconut, areca nut, coffee, 

SpecificationsCost in Rs
Land PreparationRs 4000
Plants RequiredRs 7500 (30,000 plants per acre)
Planting costsRs 3000
Irrigation Rs 6000
Harvesting Cost12000
Total Expenses32500
Total Revenue @ 60 rs per kilo for 1 Tonne60,000
Total Profit 27,500

A profit of 27,500 may seem very minimal, but the estimated yield per acre is 2 tonnes, and the above yield is only at 1 tonne. Also, the price is set to the minimum of 60 rs per kilo while the Price of vetiver may rise to 160 per kilo again.

You also need to consider that vetiver cultivation is done in areas that are usually not suitable for other crops and as an intercrop in orchards. In orchards, this reduces soil erosion, prevents weeds from mulching, and also provides nutrients to the soil apart from reducing pests. Overall, you will have added more value to your orchards with vetiver than any other crop. The soil fertility also increases many folds with vetiver plantation. 

There is no loss when it comes to vetiver cultivation and profit from one-acre vetiver cultivation could be anywhere from 30,000 to 2 Lakh rupees.

Benefits of Vetiver:

Reference:

https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/55730

https://vetiver.org/TVN_IVC2/CP5-4-1.PDF