Science Inventory

Integrated Emergy and Economic Evaluation of Tea Production Chains in Anxi, China


Zeng, X., H. Lu, Daniel E. Campbell, AND H. Ren. Integrated Emergy and Economic Evaluation of Tea Production Chains in Anxi, China. ECOLOGICAL ENGINEERING. Elsevier Science Ltd, New York, NY, 60:354-362, (2013).


This paper examines tea production in the Anxi region of Fujian Province, People’s Republic of China. Both economic and emergy methods were used to evaluate tea production chains, from planting seedings to processing the tea leaves. The economic and emergy analyses gave conflicting results, so that maximum profit was in conflict with maximum sustainability. It was recommended that the high cost of organic fertilizer and labor be lowered to improve the sustainability of tea production in Anxi, while still maintaining an economic profit. Analysis of the various tea production modes lead to practical advice on improving farm operations. The impact of this paper is expected to be limited to Anxi , China and other tea producing regions of the world.


Emergy and economic methods were used to evaluate and compare tea production systems in Anxi, China. Tea production was classified into three phases, i.e., the nursery, the plantation and tea processing, and each phase was evaluated. The results showed that the nursery subsystems were profitable with an economic output/input ratio of 2.86. However, the inclusion of a nursery had no significant influence on the sustainability of the tea plantation system, because it was a small part of the total input to the system. Applying organic fertilizer to replace 66% of the chemical fertilizer decreased the pressure of chemical loading on the environment, and as a result the cultivation phase’s emergy sustainability index (ESI) increased 2.10 times. However, due to the relatively high price of organic fertilizer and the labor to spread it, the economic output/input ratio (1.61) of the mixed organic and chemical fertilizer mode was less than that of the chemical fertilizer mode (1.80). If all the tea leaves used in the processing phase were produced on the farm, instead of purchased from outside, about 30% of the economic cost of processing could be saved, and as a result the economic output/input ratio would increase by 41%; the ESI would increase 5.48 times and the emergy index for sustainable development (EISD) would increase 11.05 times. The overuse of chemical fertilizer and low productivity of labor are key problems that need to be solved for further optimization of the Anxi tea plantation systems.

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Record Details:

Product Published Date: 11/01/2013
Record Last Revised: 06/19/2015
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 267675