Carbon Watch

Methane Avoidance in Rice Fields

A critical project that not only reduces emissions from rice production but helps ensure our future supply.

Continuous Irrigation

Continuous irrigation is the flooding of the rice field throughout the growing season, subjecting it to anaerobic conditions. This creates an ideal environment for bacteria underground to convert the organic matter into methane.
Studies suggest each hectare under continuous flooding emits nearly 6.5 tons of tCOe emissions. There are over 160 million hectares of land used for rice cultivation worldwide and nearly 60% of it is irrigated using continuous flooding. This converts to nearly 650 million tCOe emissions annually. Some reports suggest that rice cultivation is the biggest anthropogenic methane emitter responsible for over 20% of the total.

What is AWD?

Alternate wetting and drying (AWD) is is a water management technique, a practice to cultivate irrigated rice fields with much less water than traditional continuous flooding method. It is an irrigation method where the field is flooded only after the water level falls below a specific depth. This ensures the crop gets the water required yet saves the amount of water used, ultimately reducing the number of days the field is subjected to anaerobic conditions and thereby reducing methane emissions.
AWD has the potential to reduce the water used by 30% and methane emissions by nearly 50%. This would convert to a 325 million tCOe emission reduction annually or nearly 1% of all anthropogenic GHG emissions.

Our little contribution? We are currently working on a project that is helping farmers in India who are cultivating rice on over a million hectares to adopt the AWD method in their fields.


Alternate Drying and Wetting

Life of the AWD pipes

7 Years

Reduction in CO2e emission annually per hectare

3 tCO2e

CarbonWatch's Targeted Project Size

1,000,000 hectares

Expected emission reduction from our programme (10-year Period)

17,500,000 tCO2e

Carbon Avoidance

Emissions from each hectare are expected to fall by nearly 3 tons of COe annually. This converts to nearly 17.5 million tCOe emissions being avoided directly through our project.

Economic Benefits

Pumping and draining the rice fields requires labor which creates jobs. Above that, AWD also helps promote the vitality of the soil which directly impacts the farms earning potential. 

Health Benefits

Continuously flooded fields lead to stagnation of the water. Stagnant water promotes mosquito breeding which can lead to an outbreak of malaria, dengue, etc. AWD significantly reduces the chances of this outbreak, enhancing lives.