Sat, Apr 20, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Tea grower touts benefits of peanut cultivar Tainan 9

By Chang Yi-cheng and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Tea plantation owner Yu Cheng-fu examines peanut plants on his farm in Yilan County’s Dongshan Township on Dec. 9 last year.

Photo: Chang Yi-cheng, Taipei Times

Peanut cultivar Tainan 9 is a natural weed killer and helps restore soil during fallow periods of tea cultivation, said Yu Cheng-fu (游正福), an Yilan County-based tea plantation owner.

Yu, 35, a second-generation tea plantation owner in Dongshan Township (冬山), said he started experimenting with peanuts in his crop rotation after a relative did so with success at another farm that does not grow tea.

Following the introduction of peanuts to a 0.1 hectare parcel of land, the growth rate of its tea trees improved by about one-third, while weed growth slowed, he said.

Peanut plants have nitrogen-fixing root nodules, which helps restore soil nutrients, and they control weeds by growing over them or crowding them out, he said.

Peanuts can be harvested for consumption or sale, while the remainder of the plant is processed into an organic fertilizer with soybean meal, saving up to 30 percent on fertilizer costs, he said.

Tea trees and peanuts prefer different soil types, with the former growing better in clay and the latter in sandy soil, which makes the mixed clay and sandy soil of his property ideal, Yu said, adding that he plans to expand the tea-and-peanut cultivation experiment.

The use of peanuts during fallow periods is innovative and well-suited to the alluvial fans of Yilan, said Hsiao Chien-hsing (蕭建興), head of the Council of Agriculture’s local tea research and extension station.

However, peanut plants attach themselves to tea and weeds indiscriminately, so growers should use the method only for small-leafed tea tree cultivars that have fewer branches and be diligent in clearing the trees, Hsiao said.

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