SOIL Partnership Gets Vegetative with Vetiver Experiment
We love looking at the effect of compost on agricultural production, and we love it when other organizations take an interest too! This time we have teamed up with Caribbean Flavors and Fragrances S.A. (CFF), a Haitian company in Port-au-Prince that manufactures essential oils, and the Sustainable Lush (SLush) funding program through the handmade cosmetics company Lush.
This agriculture experiment focuses on vetiver, a robust plant whose roots contain an essential oil that CFF extracts and Lush incorporates into many of its cosmetic products. Vetiver (scientific name Chrysopogon zizanioides) is a perennial bunchgrass perhaps not quite as well known as its fragrant cousins lemongrass and citronella, but it is gaining in popularity. Vetiver is also often used as an erosion control plant as its deep roots can maintain soil on stiff slopes, where rains often cause topsoil erosion. Haiti is the first producer of vetiver oil in the world, and its quality is recognized as one of the best.
Over the next year and a half, we will be looking at vetiver production in three different experimental sites – two SOIL sites and one CFF site, as soil quality is one important aspect of vetiver oil quality. Each of the sites contain parcels varying four different amounts of compost: 0, 25, 50, and 75 tons of compost per hectare. At one of the sites we are also looking at the effect of a bean species intercropped with the vetiver, which will bring much-needed nitrogen to the soil.
Not only will it be interesting to see the difference in vegetative growth among the different vetiver plots, but also the resulting differences in essential oil yield and essential oil quality when we send harvest samples to CFF after 9, 11, and 13 months of production. We are only a few months into this experiment, but we look forward to reporting on the results of this experiment later on this year!