Sustainable tea pouring out of Asia

More sustainable teaTea production is continuing to grow rapidly, especially in China and Vietnam, and paraquat is helping to achieve sustainable cropping


Management and conservation of the natural resource base and the use of technological and organizational change in a manner that ensures continued agricultural production from the land for present and future generations. Such practices conserve land, water, and plant and animal genetic resources. They are environmentally non-degrading, technically appropriate, economically viable, and socially acceptable. Sustainability rests on the principle that we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Therefore, stewardship of both natural and human resources is of prime importance.

Authoritative On-line References and Resources Information from the USDA's Alternative Agricultural Systems Information Center.
systems. Tea is often grown on hillsides where the soil is very prone to erosion. Paraquat only removes the top growth of well-established weeds, keeping roots intact, and does not affect the germination of new seedlings, allowing vegetation to re-establish after 1-2 months. This helps to stabilise the soil and resist erosion.
Research in Sri Lanka has found that paraquat-based weed control systems are superior to those using glyphosate. Intensive use of glyphosate has led to weed shifts


A change in the weed community within a field i.e. relative abundance or type of weeds. This can be the result of a management practice like herbicide use or any other phenomenon that brings about a change in weed species composition. Species or biotypes adapted to current weed management practices increase, whereas weeds susceptible to those practices decrease.

Authoritative On-line References and Resources A classic article on weed population dynamics on the Iowa State University Weed Science website.
in plantations as more tolerant species survive and become more dominant. ‘Soft’ weeds, typically prostrate annual grasses


The leaves are "narrow" as opposed to the "broad" leaves of broadleaved weeds. Also called 'monocots' having one seed leaf opposed to 'dicots' having two seed leaves.

Authoritative On-line References and Resources

The International Weed Science Society represents individual associations around the world. 
which are easily controlled, are replaced by re-invasion of cleared land by more aggressive ‘noxious’ species, typically creeping and climbing annual and perennial broad-leaved weeds. These aggressive weeds compete with the tea crop, reducing yields and make spraying, fertilizer application and picking difficult.

Other facts about tea

  • Read more about the use of paraquat in tea here
  • Read an in-depth article about tea cropping here
Paraquat prevents weed shifts by offering an alternative mode of action and simply because sprayed ground is free of vegetation for less time for noxious species to colonize. The presence of non-competitive vegetative cover also provides habitats to encourage biodiversity


The variety of life in all its forms, levels and combinations. Includes ecosystem diversity, species diversity, and genetic diversity (IUCN, UNEP and WWF, 1991).

Authoritative On-line References and Resources EarthTrends is a comprehensive online database, maintained by the World Resources Institute, that focuses on environmental, social, and economic trends. Statistics on biodiversity indicators are available.
. The wildlife encouraged will include predators of insect pests, which would otherwise have to be controlled chemically.
Paraquat can be safely sprayed between the crop rows without fear of damaging the tea plants. It is immobile in soil and cannot move to the roots and up into the shoots. Bark cannot be penetrated by paraquat meaning that it can be sprayed right up to the base of the bushes. Using paraquat for weed control in tea is leading to more sustainable production.