Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Reliable and affordable methods for measurement of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture now available

The closed chamber method is a widely used technique to quantify greenhouse gas emissions in agricultural ecosystems. (Photo: IRRI)

As countries shift from mitigation commitments to action in the 2016 climate change negotiations and beyond, many countries are unable to plan for emissions reductions in agriculture due to a lack of data.

Earlier this year, researchers found that data used to calculate emission factors and populate models do not accurately represent conditions on small farms in tropical developing countries because they largely come from research in temperate, developed countries.
The complex, smallholder agricultural systems in tropical, developing countries do not fit the same emissions profiles as temperate agricultural systems, which are often mono-cultural,” said Meryl Richards, a researcher from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and the University of Vermont Gund Institute for Ecological Economics who co-edited the book.
"As countries begin implementing their climate change commitments, some are finding that they do not have reliable information about the mitigation potential of particular agricultural practices under local conditions. Getting that information often requires field measurement, which can be very expensive. This book is intended as a guide to conducting measurement in a way that provides the most information at the least cost.”  
119 developing countries committed to mitigation in agriculture in the Paris Agreement but few countries shared details about how they will carry the pledges out. Agriculture (not including land use change) contributes an average of 35% of emissions in developing countries and 12% in developed countries.
“With the exception of a few crops and systems in tropical countries, there are few measured data for emissions from smallholder farms in developing countries,” Richards, said. “This book brings together the latest science in field measurements of agricultural greenhouse gas sources and sinks. Countries can use the methods and the data they produce to support improved emission factors for country inventories and to assess the mitigation impacts of practice changes and projects.”
  • Design a measurement program;
  • Quantify stocks, stock changes and fluxes of the major GHG sources and sinks including: land use and land cover change, greenhouse gas emissions from soils, methane emissions due to enteric fermentation in ruminants, biomass carbon, and soil carbon stocks; and
  • Use field measurements to estimate mitigation potential at larger scales, and assess trade-offs between climate change and development objectives.
Recognizing that cost of research has often been an impediment for some countries, authors provide guidance on how to choose from available methods, given users’ objectives, resources, and capacities.
Authors expect that national agricultural research centers, compilers of national greenhouse gas inventories, policy makers, agricultural development practitioners, universities and the private sector will find the guidelines useful to fulfill reporting requirements to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and to identify and implement low emissions development practices that will fulfill mitigation targets outlined in the Paris Agreement. “As soon as the measurement data is collected, countries will be ready to use it,” Richards added.

(Repost from CCAFS site)


We will be publishing user guides and videos to accompany some of the chapters. Please see the video below summarizing the Quantifying Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Managed and Natural Soils chapter or see the presentation here.

Further reading

Friday, June 3, 2016

Gender issues in implementing a water saving technique in Colombia

    Photo: CIAT

The adoption of the alternate wetting and drying (AWD) technology, developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), is currently being undertaken in Colombia by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), in collaboration with the National Rice Federation in Colombia (FEDEARROZ). This research initiative is significant given the diminishing water resource and the drought episodes being experienced in some parts of the globe as a result of climate change. 
In implementing AWD, a socioeconomic study with gender perspective is being conducted in five regions of Colombia -Tolima, Norte de Santander, Córdoba, Cesar and Casanare- to identify potential barriers to technology adoption among rice producers. In some Latin American countries, studies show that women are not typically recognized as rice producers, hence, their participation in the production system and access to relevant resources are limited. Read more

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Annual emissions reductions from agriculture must reach 1 GtCO2e per year by 2030 to stay within 2°C warming limit

In the wake of the Paris Agreement, there is increased recognition of the need for mitigation in agriculture.
But how much mitigation from agriculture is needed to limit climate change? Photo: IRRI

Current agricultural interventions will only deliver 21-40% of target, indicating need for transformative technical and policy options.

The Paris Agreement, signed in 2016 by 177 countries and counting, indicates a global commitment to limiting climate change to 2°C. In parallel to the Paris Agreement, countries submitted 162 climate change adaptation and mitigation plans to the United Nations. Three-quarters of plans included intentions to reduce emissions in the agriculture sector.

Translating national plans to global impacts on climate change is not possible without clear and measurable targets for emissions reductions. In response to this gap, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), with 21 partners, put forward a preliminary target for agriculture, published in the journal Global Change Biology in May 2016. Read full story

Paris Climate Agreement Cannot Be Met Without Emissions Reduction Target for Agriculture

A farmer in India uses a GreenSeeker to gauge the health of his crops. By doing this, he can judge the optimum amount of fertilizer for crops and reduce GHG emissions from overuse of fertilizers while maximizing productivity.  
Photo: P. Vishwanathan (CCAFS)

Researchers propose a 1 gigatonne carbon dioxide equivalent per year reduction target for farming by 2030 and find current interventions could only achieve 21-40% of this goal.

BURLINGTON, VERMONT (17th May 2016) – Scientists have calculated, for the first time, the extent to which agricultural emissions must reduce to meet the new climate agreement to limit warming to 2°C in 2100.

Scientists from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), the University of Vermont, and partner institutions estimate that the agriculture sector must reduce non-CO2 emissions by 1 gigatonne CO2e per year in 2030. Yet in-depth analysis also revealed a major gap between the existing mitigation options for the agriculture sector and the reductions needed: current interventions would only deliver between 21-40% of mitigation required. Read full story

Thursday, April 28, 2016

International exhibit features IRRI’s mitigation technology

April 22, New York, USA - The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has organized an exhibit that showcases climate change mitigation stories around the globe through compelling photo essays. The exhibit runs from 22 April to 12 May 2016 at the UN Headquarters in New York. Part of the exhibit focuses on rice and climate change, which acknowledges the work of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from rice farming systems through the alternate wetting and drying (AWD) technology.

The exhibit has formerly been shown in Paris during the COP21 climate change negotiations in December 2015.

With the theme “We have the power: We are the change,” the exhibit, which opened on the celebration of Earth Day on 22 April, was intended to coincide with the momentous Paris Charter Agreement, on which 174 States and the European Union have signed. This signifies each country’s commitment to keep the global temperatures increase within this century well below 20C.

AWD is a simple and inexpensive technology
with multiple, significant benefits.
Photo: Jericho Montellano/IRRI
Doing this within the coming decades would mean reducing GHG emissions from various industries and sectors. As the global GHG emission from agriculture now reaches 10–12%, rice-producing countries need to effect measures to reduce emissions from rice cultivation, particularly the potent methane gas (CH4).

The IRRI-developed AWD technology has been proven to effectively address multiple challenges due to climate change, such as diminishing water resources and GHG emissions in rice production.

Applying AWD, rice paddies in irrigated systems need not be continuously flooded, which is the practice in the conventional system. This intermittent series of flooding and re-flooding of rice paddies results in water savings of up to 30%, thus, providing more income to rice farmers by reducing irrigation costs. This technology also reduces methane emission from rice farming by up to 50%, which helps hold down the increasing global temperature.

Through the IRRI project on methane mitigation in rice paddies, AWD is now being tested and evaluated for its technical suitability and socioeconomic benefits in countries such as Vietnam, Bangladesh, Thailand, and the Philippines. Activities to determine the ways and potentials for outscaling (massive technology adoption) and upscaling (mainstreaming to national development plans) are being conducted in Vietnam and Bangladesh. A project funded by the Agriculture Initiative of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) being hosted by UNEP, with support from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), identifies opportunities for policy support and tests new scale-out models.

As the old adage goes, “a picture paints a thousand words.” Through this exhibit, it is hoped that the photos on display would be able to meaningfully communicate that we have the power to help mitigate climate change and global warming. With good science, committed efforts, and solid action on the ground, we can achieve the change that we aspire for.

Related articles:

New Climate and Clean Air Coalition agriculture effort tackles climate change, supports rice production

Climate project partners map inroad to adoption of water-saving technology

Friday, July 3, 2015

Climate project partners map inroad to adoption of water-saving technology

Stakeholders of the Paddy Rice Component discuss and visualize paths of influence and support towards AWD outscaling.
HANOI, Vietnam – IRRI’s climate change and policy research is now an insight closer to adoption in Vietnam of a technology that helps cut down water use and methane emissions from rice production.

Farmers and representatives of women’s and farmers’ unions, irrigation service providers, and the Vietnamese government’s research, agriculture, and irrigation arms in Hai Duong Province gathered in Hanoi last week to discuss how the alternate wetting and drying (AWD) technology may be more widely used by farmers in the province and, eventually, elsewhere in Vietnam, a top producer and exporter of rice globally.

Using a tool called NetMap, the 15 participants identified relevant stakeholders, visualized the various types of relationships among them, and rated the magnitude of influence each stakeholder had on the use of AWD in Vietnam, in two paths: farmer adoption, and government policy to this effect. The exercise enabled the participants to identify the most important stakeholders to engage as well as what they will need to increase their support for outscaling of AWD.

Participants were selected from among partners in Hai Duong Province, as AWD is already well in use in An Lam, a village in the province’s Nam Sach District. Actual experiences of farmers who have used AWD, as well as of agricultural research and extension officers and irrigation managers that support these farmers, fed very well into the discussion that took place.

The NetMap workshop was facilitated by Tony Lambino, head of communication at IRRI, and held on 25 June 2015 at the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development (IPSARD). It was organized by Tran Dai Nghia and Lien Huong Do, both of IPSARD, and Vu Duong Quynh of the Institute for Agricultural Environment.

The workshop was a joint activity of the Paddy Rice Component of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), represented by Bjoern Ole Sander, IRRI climate scientist; and the Policy Information and Response Platform on Climate Change and Rice in the ASEAN and its member countries (PIRCCA), both led by IRRI.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Philippines: Conservation agriculture in South Asia highlighted at climate-smart agriculture workshop

The turbo happy seeder is a planter capable of directly drilling in the field while retaining surface residue and without any soil disturbance, thus,
following the principles of conservation agriculture. Photo from Parvinder Singh, CIMMYT. 

Experts have become concerned about the long-term sustainability of conventional tillage crop production systems. In the past decades, a variety of economic, environmental, and social problems have been plaguing these practices, including labor shortages, diminishing water and energy resources, deteriorating soil health, decreasing farm profitability, and other issues related to climate change.

Conservation agriculture (CA), on the other hand, can potentially address the challenges to the future of agriculture and food security. CA is a set of soil management practices that includes minimal soil disturbance, soil residue management, and crop diversification. These practices were presented during the regional workshop on climate-smart agriculture technologies in Asia on 2-4 June in Muntinlupa City.

Increased soil tillage or ploughing results in poor soil health or soil degradation. To keep soil disturbance to a minimum, zero-tillage technologies such as the laser leveller, turbo happy seeder, and zero-till relay planters, were developed and tested in selected sites in the Indo-Gangetic Plains in northern India.

Research on the energy dynamics of wheat production under different tillage techniques demonstrate that zero-tillage technologies have the highest energy-use efficiency and the lowest consumption of water and fuel. There is also evidence that zero- tillage technologies produce lower emission of greenhouse gases.

“To ensure that these zero-till technologies are farmer-friendly and will be disseminated easily, we tested these technologies through on-farm trials at the Bourlaug Institute for South Asia,” says Parvinder Singh, a research scientist from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center. “They were also tested in farmer-participatory trials in selected climate-smart villages.”

The farm machinery needed for zero-tillage need not be costly, according to Dr. Singh who leads the research on climate-smart agricultural technologies such as zero-tillage with residue retention, relay planting, water- and nutrient-smart practices. Dr. Singh’s team worked with local manufacturers in developing affordable machines that will be readily available for market distribution once they have been tested.