Vetiver or khus (Vetiveria zizanioides) is a tail. Perennial grass which grows wild in drier, periodically flood inundated tracts, of western and north-central India. It produces spongy, much branched, root system (khus roots) with fine rootlets, containing a fragrant oil which is a perfume by itself. The dry aromatic roots are also used to make curtains, mats, fans and other fancy goods as the product emits a sweet cooling aroma for a long period when moistened. The oil is used as a valuable fixative in blending of perfumes, cosmetics and scenting of sops. Its cultivation is largely scattered over small holdings in Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and to a lesser extent in Uttar Pradesh. Considering the high quality of oil produced in India compared to Indonesia, Brazil and Haiti, the north Indian type vetiver oil has a good potential for export.
Khus occurs wild in wet and damp environment, common over marshy lands in south-east Rajasthan, Haryana and north-central Uttar Pradesh up to 1,200m elevation in the Himalayan foothills. It produces long, narrow panicle (15-40cm) bearing numerous racemes, in whorl, in central axis. Each spike has 2 florets; one is sessile and bisexual while viable seeds. But its commercial plantation is raised only from rooted slips to maintain genetic purity and quality of the oil. It is a unique xerophyte, which survives under seasonal flooding, endures long periods of drought and tolerates a fair degree of soil salinity and high atmospheric temperature. It has good soil binding property and can stabilize eroded slopes and buds. The roots can travel long distances in light sandy soils target moisture.
Two genotypes of vetiver are found in India. The first group is called as north Indian type, represented by Bharatpur bird sanctuary material (Rajasthan). It has thick stem, narrow leaves, profusely flowering with medium-growing and highly fragrant roots but has low oil content (0.2-0.8%). The oil is laevorotatory. The other one is represented by material grown in Kerala and Karnataka. This geno-type grows all over south Asia and Latin America. It has broader leaves, bushy growth, biennial flowering and high pollen sterility. Its roots are more branched, and produce higher oilcontent (0.6 to 1.20%). Its oil is dextrorotatory in nature. Two commercial varieties have been developed in India. They are Hybrid 8 and Sugandha. These yield 14-18kg o foil with high vetiver oil content (70 to 85%). In south India, variety nilambore is popular from Karnataka genepool. It produces high oil content (20kg to Oil/ha). the oil is dextrorotatory in nature.
Vetiver prefers sandy loam soils (6 to 8 pH) in warm and damp weather conditions. It grows luxuriantly over higher rainfall tracts of Kerala and Western Ghats region. The growth ceases in winter season in north India. A medium fertile soil is ideal. Clayey soils, where root growth is poor, should be avoided for its cultivation.
The land is deeply ploughed by cross harrowing. It is kept open for weathering to hot sun for 10 to 15 days. Thereafter, it is leveled and laid out into out into beds. The farmyard manure @ 10 fertilizers are added at land preparation. About 15 to 20cm long- rooted slips are separated from old root clumps. These are planted at 60cm X25cm during july-Augest, maintaining a plant population of 60,000/ha. their growth is slow in first 90 days. Therefore, intercropping with cowpea (fodder). Clusterbean, blackgrram and greengram is advised. The crop is given additional dose of 60kg of N as topdressing. The plants are earthed up after planning when one-third N is top-dressed; the remaining N is given in early spring season. About 2 to 3 interculture operations are done to control weeds. A pre-emergent application of Atrazine or Oxadizone (0.5kg in 800 gallons of water) control weeds in early kharif season (where intercropping is not done). It needs 8 to 10 irrigations of 5cm depth in drier tracts. The plants are cut at 30cm above from the ground at the onset of autumn season to facilitate tilling, good root development and reduce incidence of leaf-blight on regrowth.
Benefits of Vetiver Oil
According to Organic Facts,10 vetiver essential oil provides the following health benefits:
Has antiseptic properties
Provides relief to insomnia patients
Enhances libido and awakens sexual desire
Provides relief from all types of inflammation
Improves and maintains good nerve health
Rejuvenates the body and helps boost immunity
Speeds up eradication of scars and other skin marks
Helps heal wounds by promoting growth of new tissues