Land preparation before planting tea is an important operation. Proper care should be taken at the time of land clearing and preparation. At this stage, there is every chance of land erosion and destruction of soil structure, particularly in virgin land in sloppy terrain if the land is exposed to sun and rain. You know that soil is formed over a long period of time by a number of factors. Soil formation is a long slow process. It's estimated that an inch of soil takes 500 to 1000 years to form. But you can destroy the soil within a short period.
Let us know how the land should be prepared for planting tea.
In many countries, land for the extension of tea cultivation is becoming scarce although there is still some scope for expansion in a few countries where tea planting was started in relatively recent times. In those countries where tea plantations were started more than 80-100 years ago, the existing plantations have passed their economic life and need replanting with superior planting materials now available to the growers. For example, in India, many gardens have already crossed the economic age and these areas required to be replanted. In addition, tea planting has been carried out in some non-traditional areas where virgin lands are still available.
Therefore, the land available for planting tea is of three types viz., virgin land, uprooted land and marginal land. Virgin land is one which has never been used for any cultivation but has been under forest or grassland. This type of land is very suitable for tea cultivation. Such soils are very fertile and have very good physical character.
When virgin land is not available for cultivation of tea, then land under old tea or other crops is replanted after uprooting the old tea bushes or the other crops. For example in Assam, tea is being planted in many small holdings in which different crops like arecanut, sugarcane, orange or other crops were grown. The physical properties of such old tea areas or land under some other crops are substandard from the point of view of tea planting and, therefore, can be replanted only after adequate rehabilitation.
Marginal land is that land which was not deemed fit for planting tea earlier and was left as such but due to non-availability of good land it has now been considered for tea cultivation, only after adequate rehabilitation.