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Crop diversification and intercropping in tea lands


P. B. Ekanayake

Tea Research Institute, Mid Country Station, Hantana, Kandy, LK
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Crop diversification and intercropping are some of the options available to improve and sustain the productivity of lands. Lands not suitable for tea cultivation should be diversified with timber and fuel wood species. Fuel wood supply not only provides energy for processing tea but also meet the firewood requirement of households in the plantation. Soil erosion could be minimized by adopting sloping agricultural land technology (SALT), the ref ore even steep lands could be planted with tea. In addition, in the long run it helps to improve and sustain soil fertility in spite of some limitations. Since tea is a shade loving plant, intercropping could be easily accommodated in tea plantations. Other plantation crops such as rubber and coconut are being intercropped with tea and guidelines are available for growers interested in tea/rubber and tea/coconut intercropping systems. The oldest intercropping system in tea lands is with export agriculture crops such as pepper, coffee and cloves. Among these, pepper is the most compatible crop with any category of tea in the mid and low elevations. While coffee is more suitable for tea lands with low plant population, cloves should be confined to field boundaries. In addition, fruit trees could be planted as intercrops and these are also suitable for tea lands with low plant populations. In young tea during first two years and during post pruning period, the inter row space could be utilized for short term crops such as pulses and grain legumes. This not only provides an additional income for the grower, but also improves soil fertility and helps to keep weed growth under control.
How to Cite: Ekanayake, P.B., 2003. Crop diversification and intercropping in tea lands. Tropical Agricultural Research and Extension, 6, pp.66–70. DOI:
Published on 30 Dec 2003.
Peer Reviewed


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