Earth-cooling technology

The alternate-wetting-and-drying (AWD) technology developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), a GRiSP partner, not only saves water in rice fields but also helps reduce agriculture’s methane emissions. Now, farmers applying this simple and inexpensive technology could potentially earn extra income from the carbon credit market.


Cleaner farming he fact that rice usually grows in a field flooded AWD technology also has the potential to reduce methane with water makes rice farming a source of the emissions from rice fields by more than 50%, depending potent greenhouse gas (GHG) methane. When on soil type and weather. In 2012, the United Nations rice fields are flooded, the layer of water prevents Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) oxygen from the atmosphere from penetrating included the AWD technology as part of a certified the soil. In the absence of oxygen, organisms Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) methodology. known as methanogenic bacteria thrive and This methodology can now be used in CDM projects decompose organic matter in the soil. This under which carbon credits can be claimed biological process produces methane for applying water-saving techniques in rice gas, which escapes to the atmosphere production. Carbon credits were introduced in through different ways, one of which the Kyoto Protocol as a means for climateis through the rice plant. friendly development. Globally, this type of rice “According to the CDM methodology, production accounts for 10% a rice farmer practicing AWD could get to 14% of the total methane carbon credits for approximately 4 tons emissions through human of carbon dioxide equivalents per hectare activity. The key to reducing per season from a certified CDM project, methane generation by rice Extra credit for being clean. Flux chambers and these credits could then be sold on cultivation is better water are used to measure GHG emissions on an experimental station in Vietnam. Through international carbon markets,” explains management practices. AWD technology, farmers can reduce the Bjoern Ole Sander, a climate change carbon footprint of rice farming and earn carbon credits. scientist at IRRI. Farmer-friendly technology This is where water-saving Green incentive technologies, such as AWD Farmers can take advantage of the carbon credits technology, come in. AWD was developed B. Sander, IRRI earned from adopting AWD technology. An agricultureand validated by IRRI and its national agricultural related organization can help local farmers draw up working research and extension system partners in Asia in response to plans for a CDM project or offer the additional input increasing water scarcity. required to make a project financially viable for local farmers. Simple and inexpensive, AWD technology allows rice “For example, an agency that manages the irrigation farmers to dry their fields for a certain number of days after system where farmers pay a service fee can be the project ponded water has disappeared. It is also highly suited for developer,” adds Dr. Sander. “The money from the carbon irrigated rice-based systems, which account for 75% of credits they sell could be used to subsidize the cost of global rice production. pumping irrigation water or improve irrigation facilities.” “AWD could reduce water use by as much as 30%, GRiSP provided additional funds to support the while maintaining yield at the level of that of flooded dissemination of AWD technology throughout the rice,” says Dr. Ruben Lampayan, IRRI water scientist. “This Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, and Bangladesh. technology has been adopted and widely promoted in Through GRiSP, Drs. Lampayan and Sander were able to Vietnam, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and the Philippines.” work with other research and extension institutions for cleaner, more efficient rice production while improving farmers’ livelihood and food security.

in motion

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