Effect of organics and inorganics on soil nutrient status, nutrient uptake and yield in tea plantations of NW Himalayas
AbstractThe first tea garden in Himachal Pradesh was established in the year 1852 and it was a commercial success. The tea industry in the state flourished for next 50 years. During this period the teas from this region attained international fame and won several awards between 1886 and 1895 in London and Amsterdam. It was unfortunate that this flourishing industry was devastated by the great earthquake of 1905 and the plantations were abandoned. Thereafter due to continuous fragmentation, the size of the holdings became small and now tea in Himachal Pradesh is predominantly a small grower's crop. The recorded area under tea in the year 1951 was 4317 ha owned by 1,115 growers and the production was around 1.125 Mkg. Over the years, some of tea areas having been used for diverse use, the effective area had declined considerably and currently it is reported to be approx. 2,300 ha. This figure was derived on the basis of a survey conducted by the Tea Board way back in 1995 and now this data is quite outdated. The survey indicated that out of the total tea area of 2,300 ha, nearly 1,100 ha was lying neglected/abandoned and around 600 ha was owned by 23 big tea-growers and the balance 600 ha was owned by 720 small growers. Hence, it would be necessary to explore the potential of this neglected/abandoned area by applying the Integrated Nutrient Management Techniques and Organic Fanning in a phased manner. In the State of H.P. there is sufficient availability of biomass vis-a-vis Albizzia sinensis and Tea Skiffing litter in the tea gardens itself Presently some of the tea plantations are using chemical fertilizers, FYM and compost without proper guidance and package and practices. Some of the major challenges before the Indian tea industry are as follows: increase the production, improve the quality, ensure availability of tea at a price remunerative to the producers, get sufficient residue-free tea of good quality and meet the export requirements in order to retain and improve India's share in world market. Organic orthodox black tea produced in H.P. could fill-up the void in this aspect. To meet out this challenge, it has been contemplated that chemical fertilizer could be reduced up to some extent and integrated with compost for optimizing the productivity as well as the quality of tea. Research was, therefore, initiated to fill up the gap in our knowledge on nutrition of tea, and to develop an optimum integrated nutrient management recommendation for tea under North-West Indian condition.
Keywords: Hill and mountain agro ecosystem; Tea cultivation; Integrated nutrient management; Organic farming; Sustainable; Quality; Production
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