Saturday, April 02, 2016

This Program Will Make Cutting Carbon Emissions Lucrative for Farmers

California emissions by sector, 2013 (Credit: California Air Resources Board) Click to Enlarge.
Rice is a hugely important staple crop — around the world, some 3.5 billion people depend on rice for a fifth of their daily calories.  But rice is also a source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that is more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the short term.

That’s because when rice is grown, its root systems secrete carbohydrates created by photosynthesis.  Traditional rice farming calls for flooding rice fields after the spring planting until harvest, which creates an oxygen-devoid environment perfect for bacteria that break down the root system’s carbohydrates, emitting methane in the process.

Working with scientists and farmers, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) was able to calculate reductions in methane achieved when farmers adopted certain techniques, such as sowing rice seeds into dry soil, draining rice fields a few days earlier than normal, or alternating wetting and drying the fields, rather than keeping them wet for the entire season.
Moving beyond rice
The 21 participating farmers represent the first group of American land-crop farmers that will be paid to offset carbon in their fields.  But, if Robert Parkhurst, director of agricultural greenhouse gas markets for the Environmental Defense Fund, gets his way, they will be far from the last.

Rice, while a significant producer of methane, is far from the most egregious agricultural greenhouse gas producer.  As E&E News pointed out in January, according to EPA estimates, rice accounted for a little more than one percent of the United States’ overall greenhouse gas emissions in 2013.  Even if every single rice producer in the United States participated in the program, it would be but a small dent in agriculture’s overall contribution to climate change.

But Parkhurst hopes that now that the California Air Resources Board has approved one offset project, it will be open to trying more. Specifically, Parkhurst has his sights set on things like fertilizer, which produces nitrous oxide, and the conversion of grassland to farmland, which can release carbon stored in both the grass and the soil.

“With 400 million acres of cropland out there, there’s a huge opportunity,” Parkhurst said, explaining that California can meet up to 8 percent of its carbon-cutting obligations through its carbon market, meaning that some 200 million tons worth of carbon credits can be traded by 2020.

Read more at This Program Will Make Cutting Carbon Emissions Lucrative for Farmers

No comments:

Post a Comment