Over the past few months, we have connected with some of our tea farmers to talk climate, nature and tea to hear about what regenerative farming practices might help decarbonise tea while restoring soils and get other natural co-benefits. As per the Regenerative Organic Alliance's (ROA) own definition, regenerative agricultural practices are about restoring soil quality, helping the soil sequester carbon and increasing the resilience of the farming system.
Here is what we have learned
Regenerative agriculture reflects the need to go beyond simply organic and combine carbon, nature and people action in our food systems. While regenerative agriculture is a newish term (and certainly new certification), many of the agricultural practices are also core to organic, biodynamic and/or climate smart agriculture - as such most practices are hence familiar and in some cases widely implemented by organically farmed systems.
The following list of practices are those that many of our tea partner farms use to restore soil, preserve water and moisture and microbial activity and thereby help to build system productivity and climate and nature resilience.
Overview table of common regenerative tea practices
No till farmings means that you grow crops without turning/disturbing the soil
|Spreading something in between the tea rows or growing grass and cutting i
Practice of planting other than the main crop together in a field and that of having rows of one plant alternate with another
Combines trees with crops in a farming system to deliver various benefits
Avoids loss of carbon/increases carbon below ground
Retains soil moisture
Provides natural nutrients and organic matter to crops
Retains moisture as soil is covered
Avoids plant growth that is not intended/beneficial
Provides natural nutrients esp. if alternate crops is nitrogen fixing
Retains water at different levels if different root systems
Retains moisture due to soil coverage
Provides wildlife and pollinator habitat,
Improves soil and water quality and prevents erosion and floods
Helps to sequester carbon above ground
We love that regenerative tea farming encompasses the systems productivity & resilience by strengthen soils health & microbial activity.
In recognizing these wider elements and interactions between soil, water and carbon, regenerative tea goes beyond what is required to meet organic certification.
The next step to accelerate adoption is to help tea farmers to get rewarded for carbon capture & nature co-benefits on their tea farms to provide an Return on Investments (ROI) that will help diversity & sustain their income streams.