Reducing Emissions on Rice Farms

Eric HolstThis post is by Eric Holst, Manager, Center for Conservation Incentives, Environmental Defense.

Everyone can do something to help stop global warming. Here’s an example…

When California passed the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), California rice growers wanted to explore ways to lower their net emissions. But exactly how to go about doing this wasn’t clear, so Environmental Defense teamed up with the California Rice Commission to work on the challenge.

As in other sectors of agriculture, rice farms both produce greenhouse gas emissions (mainly in the form of methane) and sequester carbon in field vegetation and soils. Our two-year project, launched in October, seeks to develop precise techniques – voluntarily implemented – to reduce emissions and increase sequestration, and to quantify emission benefits.

Our goal is to develop a comprehensive menu of options for rice growers wishing to reduce their greenhouse gas footprint. The technologies we identify, refine, and develop will be field tested on participating rice farms in California’s Sacramento Valley.

These carefully quantified voluntary practices have the potential to be sold as carbon offsets. Participating growers who implement these techniques could earn offset credit. To better understand this potential, we will work with a small group of rice growers to develop greenhouse gas offset trading opportunities. This will allow us to evaluate the level of incentive necessary to make an offset market attractive to growers.

We’re really pleased to be working with the California Rice Commission on this project. Our technical team, which includes researchers from the University of California, Davis; University of New Hampshire; and Applied Geosolutions, Inc., are currently refining and calibrating the computer model that will be used to calculate greenhouse gas emissions and emission reductions.

We hope to have the computer model up and running by the spring planting season so that we can launch on-the-ground trials in 2008. Stay tuned to Climate 411 for periodic updates.

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