Climate Change Mitigation And Adaptation Options in Agriculture Sector

Apr 24th, 2012 | By | Category: Adaptation, Agriculture, Carbon, Lessons, Mitigation, News, Publication, Technologies

EVI: The changing dynamics of agriculture sector and the emerging threat of climate change

The agriculture sector and its remarkable advances during the middle of 20th century is considered to be the basis for securing the food supply of a rapidly expanding human population especially in the developing countries that was enjoying the fruits of industrial revolution reflected in there improving socio-economic status. The impetus received by the agriculture sector through the green revolution was however lost in the new wave of economic liberalization and rise of service sector during the final decade of last century. Agriculture sector has been increasingly marginalized from the development focus of governments and has become stagnant as a result. Whilst the world population continues to grow and is expected to grow at the rate of about 2% per annum, the area under agriculture has remained constant at about 38% of total arable land for the last twenty years.

Given that the land area under agriculture is not expected to increase significantly in the future, the stagnation in productivity of major food grains is especially worrying. This is highlighted by the increase in paddy and wheat output (the principle food grains) by less than 1% annually over the past decade. The stagnation of government investments in the agriculture sector, the failure of green revolution in Africa, the accumulation of ill effects of green revolution in Asia can be considered as some of the systemic causes of saturation in agriculture output and consequent threat to food security. This has been accentuated by the increasing variability of world climate regimes partly blamed on the phenomenon of human-induced climate change. The agriculture sector itself is considered to be a significant contributor to this effect. It has been estimated that agricultural activities contribute to about 10-12% of all GHG emissions and the emissions are increasing at the rate of about 1.5% annually and is expected to maintain this trend for the next two decades. Thus abatement of GHG emissions from agriculture activities has been considered under the auspices of first commitment period of Kyoto protocol. Direct GHG emission sources of this sector like traditional rice cultivation, enteric fermentation, live-stock manure management (CH4) and nitrogenous fertilizer application (N2O) has been considered during first commitment period.

II. Opportunities and Strategy for adopting GHG emissions mitigation options under Clean Development Mechanism

The mitigation opportunities for the agriculture sector have been based on the emissions from the various activities associated with this sector. The identified strategies which need to be pursued for significant reductions in GHG emissions have been described in this chapter.


Technological background

Synthetic nitrogenous fertilizer (eg. Urea) application is also responsible for N2O emissions through volatilization losses, leaching and run-off from applied nitrogen to aquatic systems.

GHG emissions abatement and potential of generation of carbon credits

About 80% of N20 emissions in India is from volatilizing of NOx from nitrogenous fertilizers. The volatilization of applied nitrogen as ammonia (NH3) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) is followed by deposition as ammonium (NH4) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) on soils and water and accounts for indirect emissions from soils. Depending upon nitrogen content of chemical fertilizers replaced by organic manure, the potential for reducing soil N20 emissions by replacing nitrogenous chemical fertilizers with organic manure varies from 5t to 7t CO2 e /ha/ growing season of the crop or annually for perennial crops.

Existing Guidance /Methodologies for project development

Generic IPCC Guidelines are available for calculating emission reductions from fertilizer switch. CDM Executive Board has published general guidance for calculating direct emissions from nitrogenous fertilizers. An approved small scale methodology “Offsetting of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers by inoculant application in legumes-grass rotations on acidic soils on existing cropland — Version 2.0″ix (AMS III A) is present. However, there is no approved methodology available that includes other crops-systems/soil types/land use by the CDM Executive Board.

Present extent of Technology Diffusion in India

Area under organic farming in India has increased from about 40,000 hectares in 2004 to about 5 lakh hectares (2007-08) and was targeted to achieve 2 million hectares by 2012x. But the growth in organic farming has exceeded all expectations and had reached 4.4 million hectares in 2009-10 itself. Uttaranchal and Sikkim has been declared as Organic States.


Technological background

The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is an improved method of rice cultivation developed in 1983 in the highlands of Madagascar and has now been adapted in many parts of the world. SRI method of cultivation aims at producing higher yields with less seed and less water based on the principle that keeping paddy soils moist but not continuously saturated gives better results, both agronomically and economically, than flooding rice throughout its crop cycle.

GHG emissions abatement and potential of generation of carbon credits

Paddy cultivation accounts for 15–20% of the world’s total anthropogenic CH4 emission. Anaerobic decomposition of organic material in flooded rice fields produces CH4, which escapes into the atmosphere primarily by diffusive transport through the rice plants during the growing season. There are large spatial and temporal variations of methane fluxes which occur due to different soil types, soil organic carbon and various agricultural practices such as choice of water management and cultivar, the application of organic amendments, the mineral fertilizer, and soil organic carbon.

Reduction in flooding intensity results in reduction of upto 60-70% of methane emissions. Depending on the duration of flooding/irrigation, the total area under rice cultivation can be categorized under different water regimes, namely, upland, rain fed drought and flood prone, continuously irrigated, irrigation with single or multiple aerations, and deep water. Most of these diverse water management systems are also practiced in most traditional rice-producing countries.

Depending on the climatic conditions and manure additions and type of strains (cultivars) used, the potential for reducing soil CH4 emissions from rice cultivation varies from 10t to 15t CO2 e /ha/ growing season of rice (three-four months) by switching from continuously flooded/deep water paddy to intermittently flooded (thus facilitating aeration) irrigation practices.

Existing Guidance /Methodologies for project development

IPCC recognizes flooded cultivation of paddy (rice) as a major source of GHG (methane) and activities aiming for reduction of methane emissions from this activity are eligible for carbon credit benefits under CDM. IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (2006) has provided methodological guidances for calculation of methane emission reductions by effective water management of rice cultivation. Region specific experimental data regarding methane emissions from rice cultivation in India is available. CDM Executive board has approved a methodology “Methane emission reduction by adjusted water management practice in rice version 2.0″xii (AMS III AU) for this activity type.

Present extent of Technology Diffusion in India

SRI was introduced in India in around 2002-03 and has been widely adopted in the states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Presently it is being tried out in the rice growing areas of IGP (Indo-Gangetic Plain) too. About 13000 hectares were covered under the model in India by 2009xiii and the technology is fast gaining acceptance among the farming community.

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