The White River Irrigation District's recently completed CIG focused on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from rice production identified the technologies available to produce reductions, capabilities required to monitor and measure the GHG reduction process, and willingness of growers to participate IF the reward matches the cost and time requirements.  There are 4 key facts or findings that emerged from the first CIG:

  1. We can reduce methane produced by about 50% with methods acceptable to most growers;
  2. We can reduce water use more than 18% with a corresponding reduction in fossil fuel use;
  3. Technical assistance and grower training, grower recruitment, program development, and aggregation cannot be accomplished from a remote location efficiently.  Those services must be provided by the growers trusted advisors, who are knowledgeable about rice production and technologies used within the respective region; and
  4. There is not enough funding available under any reasonable, sustainable, publicly traded carbon market to pay for all participants in the carbon credit development process.  We are asking growers to change their management systems, implement more intensive management and measurement techniques, and keep extensive records, which takes additional time and money.  Currently, it is not possible to pay the project developer, the verifier, and the broker and have meaningful funds left for the generator of the benefits, the grower.  This has resulted in reduced levels of grower participation, lost environmental stewardship opportunities, and forgone marketing potential at the farm level.  A successful program requires a different approach than what is currently available.

This project seeks to address these issues by forming a Farmer-Driven, Market-Based Sustainable Agriculture Cooperative to Market Agricultural-Based GHG Offsets and develop an Environmental Stewardship Branding Program.  The available marketing opportunities for farmer created offsets are less than ideal.  Though organizations do exist that can purchase these credits from farmers and aggregate them for sale to the buyer, the organizations do not have on-the-ground credibility with farmers, and are assumed by many to have ulterior motives.  At the same time, markets for sustainably grown products exist, though a lack of a verifying and certifying body limits the credibility and potential sale premium associated with these products. A farmer operated body (Co-Op) with independent verification, which is the goal of this project, is one way to promote these activities with adequate credibility to encourage the broader adoption of these practices through these market-based approaches.

Key Project Elements

Project Location:  Rice Growing Region of the mid-South in the states of Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, and Louisiana
Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHGe) Reduction Goal:  We will generate California Air Resources Board (ARB) eligible credits for the 2015 (10,000 tons), 2016 (15,000 tons) and 2017 (25,000 tons) crop years however the main goal is to establish an economically sustainable process that works for the growers.
Emission Source Targeted: CH4 produced during the rice production cycle
GHGe Quantification Method:  DeNitirification-DeComposition (DNDC) model with data monitored
Engagement Level: 25,000 acres 50 farms in the first 2 years with a goal of scaling
Crop(s) Targeted: Rice with other row crops considered over time
Technology Required: DNDC model, electronic sensors for measuring and tracking soil moisture and water depth, water flow rates, yield monitoring, and available data sets
Protocols/Methodologies Engaged: American Carbon Registry (ACR) Rice Protocol, California Air Resources Board Rice Protocol

Project Summary

This project will form a farmer-driven, market-based sustainable agriculture cooperative to market agricultural-based GHG offsets and develop an environmental stewardship branding program.