In January 2015, NASA launched its Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission that aims to map global soil moisture and detect whether soils are frozen or thawed.
Information will be beamed back to earth from September and will help combat the effects of climate change. The moisture in the top 5cm of soil will be measured by an orbiting observatory and the data will be made available to 50 world institutions, including Tocklai Tea Research Institute in Assam. This will help researchers and planters to plan such field operations as planting and irrigation during dry periods and drought.
Tocklai are partnering with Cranfield University in Britain and Kobe Gakuin University in Japan to study soil carbon (an important component of healthy soil), work to improve soil health and the retention of water by increasing soil carbon and nutrients, and help the tea industry cope with climate change.
The project with Cranfield University will be funded by the British Council, and the Kobe Gakuin University project will be funded by the Sumitomo Foundation of Japan. Collaboration is also ongoing between Tocklai and the Ethical Tea Partnership which is currently working on climate change in Kenya.