Partners and Projects: Soil & More International and the Ambootia Tea Group in Darjeeling

Project stats:

Composting. 4 large scale composting sites in Himalayan tea gardens

Return on investment:

Ambootia (India) providing the investment for this project in return for a lower carbon tea supply, reduction in conventional fertilizer use and cost saving.

Shared value:

Less dependence on expensive fertilizer, increased income through higher yields, increased disease resistance. Supply chain: new USP´s – low carbon product, ecosystem regeneration linked to product.
opportunity to integrate climate issues in business model, help regenerate the ecosystem of suppliers.

In many developing countries soil is becoming increasingly depleted due to intensive use of chemical fertilizers and non-sustainable farming practices. The result is dwindling yields. Soil & More's goal is to stop this loss of soil fertility and thereby make farming more sustainable.

They promote a more sustainable use of the world's remaining resources. In many developing countries soil is becoming more and more depleted due to intensive use of chemical fertilizers and non sustainable farming practices.

This results in decreasing yields. The farmers try to compensate for their loss by using even more intensive farming methods. In arid climates, poor soil fertility is a growing concern to all farmers. This is a negative spiral which, at the end, is likely to cause negative results and bankruptcy for thousands of farmers and related companies within the coming 5 to 10 years.

Whilst farmers struggle with loss of soil fertility and decreasing yields, valuable biomass is often dumped and left to rot. In some countries, compost is imported from abroad whilst the locally available biomass is not re-integrated into the eco-system.

In answer to these challenges, Soil & More developed methodologies to use unwanted biomass for the production of high quality compost. Their compost helps to increase the water holding capacity of soils, suppress diseases, and improve the soil structure. Furthermore, it constitutes a substitute for synthetic fertilizers. In order to accelerate the fertilization impact of compost, Soil & More developed as well a methodology to stimulate the microbial activity and with it the nutrient release, notable already 10-15 days after the application. Last but not least, their composting projects stimulate the local economy, provide people with year round employment, (mostly) qualify as emission reduction projects and secure the existence of farms.

Featured project – Darjeeling, India Tea

In collaboration with the Ambootia Tea Group in Darjeeling/India, Soil & More carried out fertilization optimization assessments and various compost trainings and helped to setup four compost sites in various tea gardens. Soil & More assessed as well the carbon footprint of Ambootia's tea gardens and started to register the gardens as emission reduction projects.

The yields of the previously conventional tea gardens have decreased significantly, especially in dry years up to 30%. Through a regular compost application yield increased again to the original levels, particularly through the improved water holding capacity of the soils and the related increased resilience against drought periods. The plan and demand is to further roll-out these best practices to the entire Darjeeling tea area within the next years and to add low carbon or carbon neutrality as a new quality attribute to the world's best quality teas from the Himalaya's.