Saturday, May 25, 2024
Home > Agriculture > Farmers trained on vertiver grass to control soil erosion

Farmers trained on vertiver grass to control soil erosion

Farmers in Migori County have received free training on a new variety of grass that will help to reduce soil erosion and provide fodder to animals.

The Kenya Vetiver Network (KEVN) lead researcher Jane Wegesa said that they were introducing the Vertiver Grass as a solution to bioengineering to help solve and address effects of climate change like drought, soil and water conservation in farms, industrial parks, and institutions.

Vetiver is a large strong bunchgrass that grows up to 1.5 meters high and its roots can attain depths of more than three meters making it one of the tallest grass in the world.

The grass was introduced two years ago in Rongo Sub County to help in soil and water conservation as well as reduce soil erosion and siltation along the river banks and Lake Victoria.

Wegesa explained that vetiver was an excellent stabilising hedge for watercourse banks and terraces in protecting the soils against erosion.

“Vetiver grass helps to slow down run offs so helps to reduce soil erosion that leads to restoration of soil fertility and better crop aeration,” noted Wegesa.

She noted that the grass should be embraced as a tool of agro ecology and farm culture in the fight against the ever persists effects of climate change in environmental ecosystem preservations.

Farmers in Central Kamagambo-Rongo Sub County during a free training on a new variety of grass that will help to reduce soil erosion and provide a folder to animals. Photo by Geoffrey Makokha.

Wegesa also urged the counties and the national government to embrace and adopt the bioengineering aspect of the grass in solving embankments instead of using expensive technologies like gabions and concrete wall constructions along the river and dam banks.

She emphasised that instead of investing heavily in gabions erections the country should invest in the Vetiver System (VS), a cheap and environmentally friendly system of soil and water conservation whose main constituent is the use of the vetiver plant in hedgerows.

Vetiver System uses vetiver plants in hedgerows for soil and water conservation, infrastructure stabilisation, and pollution control along the river and lake banks. The system can also be used for wastewater treatment, sediment control, and other environmental protection applications.

“Vetiver grass can be used to stabilise railway and road cuttings or embankments to prevent mudslides and rockfalls,” explained Wegesa.

The grass has been present in Kenya for at least 25 years and according to The Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organization (KALRO) research publications it was recommended for use because of its effectiveness in soil and water conservation across the country.

Mwadime Kombo, a farmer from Central Kamagambo said that the training will enable him to utilise the enormous benefits that the Vetiver grass presents.

He pointed out that the Vetiver System will also enable area residents to restore the landscape soils that used to be washed down to Lake Victoria from their farm.

Kombo encouraged farmers in Migori to embrace the low-cost technology adding that the grass was rich in energy, proteins and a more digestible forage that will provide farmers with animal feeds as well as sell the surplus to generate income.

By Geoffrey Makokha

Leave a Reply