Among great global environmental needs is a cheap, trouble-free, infinitely scalable way to stop storms washing soil off slopes. This not only depletes farmland, it defiles waterways, wetlands, reservoirs, coral reefs, and other precious downstream sites. The effects are particularly problematic in the tropics, where rains fall in torrents.
Vetiver is a tall, sterile, tropical grass that stays right where it was planted. When laid out in rows across the slopes, the separate plants grow together to form walls of stems that retard soil, rocks, and even the rushing runoff following tropical downpours. This exceptionally robust species can in addition purify toxic soils and polluted waters. And while performing such great feats it also absorbs and buries CO2 in its massive roots that plunge deep into acidic soils that prevail throughout the tropics.
Vetiver: A Thin Green Line Against Erosion describes this practical, all-natural tool for use throughout the warm zones. In fact, this 185-page report shoes that vetiver is safe and simple enough that landowners throughout the warmer parts of the world can install their own hedges. Despite being overtaken by events during the last decade, the book is still a great place to learn how this technique can transform the tropics.
Jojoba is one of the world's most costly vegetable oils, selling at more than $40 a gallon. Yet it sells well. Supermarkets and hairdressers worldwide peddle premium shampoos containing it.
The plant’s value goes beyond just dollars and cents. For areas too dry and too distant for conventional crops it can be profitable. It has, for example, helped Israel’s northern Negev Desert to bloom.
Considering that global warming is slated to make many areas hotter and dryer, jojoba’s prospects are exceptional. Moreover, its seed oil has a unique power to penetrate and soften human skin. At a time when the baby boom generation is aging, this natural, nontoxic, and non-allergenic material will find an ever increasing market in skin creams.
Jojoba; New Crop for Arid Lands, New Raw Material for Industry is a well-organized, well-illustrated 100-page, book surveying the prospects and the science behind this new drought-resistant crop in words and pictures aimed at informing the general reader. Although somewhat dated, this easy access volume published in 1985 conveys jojoba’s importance and promise even today.
A Tool to Make the Desert Bloom
Saline Agriculture: Salt-Tolerant Plants for Developing Nations