Appendix A: Progress Made on a Tea Estate in North Bengal
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APPENDIX A PROGRESS MADE ON A TEA ESTATE IN NORTH BENGAL BY J. C. WATSON GANDRAPARA TEA ESTATE is situated on low rice-growing land south of the Himalayas and in a district which was commonly thought to be incapable of producing teas of a quality equal to those of estates situated on the Red Bank soil. The estate covers 2,796 acres, of which 1,242 acres are under tea; there are also ten acres of seed-bearing bushes. Paddy or rice land·is available for the labour force, allotments for growing soya bean, vegetables, and so forth, and shajana trees grow in all the labourer's barees or garden patches. Everything possible is being done to improve and maintain the nutrition and health of the labour force and also of the labour force of to-morrow-the children. Large sums are being well spent by the Company to maintain a healthy and contented labour force which is one of the finest assets of an estate. I have had the privilege of managing this estate for thirty years and not only has the labour force been contented, happy, and healthy, but the land itself has also improved. There are resident on the estate a population of 2,756 souls, as well as two and a half million tea bushes, all to be maintained in a state of health. The tea plant requires a fertile soil and this means healthy crops, healthy animals, and last, but not least, healthy human beings. The following facts tell their own story: in the five years previous to the intensive application of humus the estate averaged yearly 795,801 lb. of tea or 5.09 oz. of tea per bush; since 193922,000 tons of humus, made in a central factory on the Indore method advocated by Sir Albert Howard, have been applied to the land and the yields during 1939-43 averaged 1,240,800 lb. of tea yearly or 7.94 oz. per bush. It is undeniable that this humus is the storehouse of surplus water which is given back to the plant in dry periods. In this part of India droughts are sometimes very severe; in the period from October to April less than one and a half inches of rain has been registered, but the condition and health of the bushes compared with those estates treated 265 wholly with artificial manures is remarkable. The art of cultivation consists in getting the humus to a depth in the soil where the moisture does not evaporate. The higher the fertility of the soil, the better the class of crop grown on it and the less are the effects of dry periods on the crops. The drainage system where heavy rainfall is experienced-as much as 125 inches between May and September-has to be in thorough working order to keep the soil in good heart, and there has yet to be found any better method of replacing the losses in the soil year after year than by heavy applications of orgariic matter. If the tea bushes receive a check, they are immediately liable to disease. It was, therefore, essential that before starting on heavy applications of humus the drainage system be put and kept in good working order, also good shade trees were established giving a heavy leaf fall. There is no substitute for organic matter or humus in the soil. It is interesting to note that in 1943 a severe hail storm stripped the bushes and did damage estimated at 96,000 lb. of tea, but, after resting, the bushes had the stamina to ensure a rapid return to normal and a record crop was harvested. In 1934 the manufacture of humus on a small scale was instituted according to the Indore method advocated by Sir Albert Howard. The humus is manufactured from the waste products of tea estates. All available vegetable matterof every description, such as Ageratum, weeds, thatch, leaves, and so forth, is carefully collected and stacked, put into pits in layers, sprinkled with urinated earth to which a handful of wood ashes has been added, and then covered with a layer of broken up dung and soiled bedding, after which the contents are watered with a fine spray-not too much water, but well moistened. This charging process is continued till the pit is full to a depth of from three to four feet, each layer being watered with a fine spray as before (Plates VIII and IX...


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