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The Mana Difference: Healing the Soil Through Better Compost

John Grams about tea Chota Tingrai Tea Estate Mana Organics organics

Really, the Mana Difference is all about the smell.

The first time I visited the Mana’s organic tea gardens at Chota Tingrai Tea Estate, the smell struck me the most. The scent of the dark earth, mixing with the warm tinge of coming rain and a faint waft of tea from the factory a mile down the road. The scent of living things.

A chemically nurtured section does not have a scent, except when it is being sprayed. And that’s a horrible stench. Like bunt tires and dust.

Mana’s gardens smell this way because they are more than just a production unit—they are an ecosystem. When you stroll through the tea bushes, you find butterflies, spiders, frogs and monkeys. When you dig in the soil you pull up worms wriggling between dark organic matter and the indigenous clay.

You do not find such life in a chemically fed section. You find monkeys and a few butterflies around the edges, but no spiders or worms. And the dirt is solid clay. You can break a clod from the ground off with bare hands your hands.

This is the Mana Difference – living soil versus dead dirt.

In the course of these videos, we will share with you all the components that make up the Mana difference. We will show you how we achieve a holistic balance of organic plant nutrition, natural predator/prey pest cycles, and adaptive management. In this video, we visit both chemically and organically fertilized soil. We also demonstrate how Mana makes its compost.

A large part of the Mana Difference comes from the amazing compost we make in the tea estate itself. Avantika often calls it black gold. I think it’s something more valuable. An aspiration for how agriculture might be done, a reward for hard work spent, and a gift from nature better than what we might deserve.

Please enjoy the video, and leave any comments in the comment section below.



00:08 – John and Mahindra explore soil that has been over exposed to chemical fertilizer

00:52—Mahindra demonstrates how Mana Organics makes compost to revive infertile soil

02:00—Manhindra finds an earthworm in the compost

02:39—Mahindra takes John to an organic tea garden to show him the difference Mana Compost makes for the soil and plants


John: Hi! Welcome to behind the scenes with Mana Organics. Today, I’m with Mahindra, and we’re looking at the differences between soils that are managed according to organic practices and those that are not. This is soil that is not managed according to organic practices. As you can see, the soil is hard, compacted, and lacks organic matter. This makes the soil dead or infertile.

John: The only way plants growing in these soils can produce leaf, is by getting their nutrition from urea and other chemical fertilizers.

John: Now Mahindra is going to show us how Mana Organics makes compost to overcome these soil deficiencies.

Mahindra (subtitles): We use green matters and dry matter as our raw material for compost layers. Our heaps are 12 ft long and 6 feet wide. We put a layer of dry matter, then a layer of cow dung – made into a slurry, repeated with dry matter, then green matter. Followed by lime, wood ash and rock phosphate.

Mahindra (subtitles): We make three such layers. After 21 days, we do the first turn… Then we leave it for another month, and after 28 days we do the second turn. At this point, the compost is half ready. It looks like this, and some worms also show up!

Mahindra (subtitles): After another couple of weeks, we do the third turn, after which the compost is ready. It takes about 3 months in total, and makes 600-800 kgs.

Mahindra (subtitles): The ready compost is packed in sacks, and then transported to the fields for application according to our composting plan. The dark color and presence of worms is a good sign of quality!

John: This tea is planted in soil, managed organically by Mana. Now Mahindra will show me the difference.

John: Yeah the soil is so much more loose and soft. It’s got a kind of stickiness from the organic matter.

John: This soil is full of life as evidenced by this earth worm. The organic matter added by the compost creates an environment that microorganisms thrive in. These beneficial organisms break down the compost into nutrients that the plants can easily absorb.

John: Thank you for watching our video. Hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more updates from behind the scenes with mana organics at Chota Tingrai Tea Estate.

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