Tea is one of the leading crops in the move towards a more sustainable agriculture.
The major environmental issues in growing tea include:
Loss of habitats and effects on biodiversity
Soil erosion on the often hilly terrain
Water pollution and reduction in soil health by agrochemicals
Paraquat can be used to maintain a managed, non-competitive weed flora which provides habitats to encourage biodiversity and helps prevent soil erosion. Paraquat does not affect soil health and does not pollute soil or surface waters.
The Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka recommends using paraquat as a weed management solution allowing reduced use of glyphosate, stating:
“Manual weeding and chemical weeding with paraquat in rotation could be advocated to sustain productivity and maintain an eco-friendly environment in tea plantations.”
Tea fact file
3.1 million ha grown worldwide, mainly in Asia
117%: increase in area harvested in Vietnam, one of the top five producing countries, since 1995
75 tonnes/ha of soil eroded annually from hilly tea estates in Sri Lanka
3 main varieties: Assam, China, Cambodian
Paraquat only removes the top growth of well-established weeds and does not affect the germination of new seedlings.