• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Carbon farming and rice in NE Thailand...possible?

 
Bryan Hugill
Posts: 10
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
One of the perpetual challenges we face in our main crop (Thai jasmine rice) over here in NE Thailand is the fact that the paddy systems are supposedly heavy methane emitters; however, I've also seen a few studies offering a counter viewpoint, although this is partially expected too, when you consider that most farms over here are running on soils with a mere 0.1% of carbon (yes, the regular way of land preparation and growing rice has a huge negative impact on our local soils).

As an organic farm, we are striving to change this emission scenario and aim to become carbon negative by planting our berms thickly with mango trees, lime trees and bananas (with an under-storey of herbs, melons, pumpkins and sweet potatoes) when the next monsoon season comes around. Also, we've been looking into alternative cultivation techniques that rely less on the flood/dry regime that's currently employed through the use of thick beds of wood chips to hold moisture and keep down weed growth, as well as the use of ducks in the paddies during the growing season to encourage nutrient cycling (which I hope will result in fewer emissions and more nutrient fixing). The downside to this though is that this will also result in a significant loss of wild foods that supplement our rainy season diet (fish, frogs, snails, eels, freshwater shrimp, wild plants, etc.)...which puts us in a bit of a conundrum.

The cool and dry seasons see us trying to keep a soil cover of sorts, whether in terms of rice straw or through the cultivation of a variety of legumes.

Any thoughts and suggestions would be warmly welcomed.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 8963
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
129
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Do you know if any studies have been done comparing soil carbon in Fukuoka Natural Farming rice-growing to that of conventional methods?

Some articles that might help:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24227744

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3323943/

http://www.hindawi.com/journals/tswj/2013/546750/

 
Eric Toensmeier
Author
Posts: 145
56
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Bryan,

I'm not sure what scale you are producing at but an excellent strategy to try is the System of Rice Intensification. This is an intensive organic smallholder approach to rice production that is showing impressive impacts on yields (doubling or more in many cases). As it is not a flooded system, it does not result in methane emissions as regular paddy rice does. However it is a very labor – intensive practice. The international Rice research Institute has been looking a lot at rice production practices for methane reduction and has developed some interesting options for larger operations, most of which involve minimizing tillage and reducing or shortening the flooded period.

Eric
 
Bryan Hugill
Posts: 10
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It seems to me that this is calling for a combination of Fukuoka's natural farming techniques (as well as the Korean Natural Farming techniques) and a modified version of SRI for rainfed areas, together with massively increasing soil carbon through perennial rice strains (when they finally become available and the market accepts the new varieties) and rice husk biochar, improving soil microbial activity through the addition of IMO preparations, tinkering with cultivating in wood chips (made from local tree species that we grow on our farm, incl. windfall) to buffer against the increasingly uncertain rainfall patterns, adding macrofauna (ducks, fish, etc.). But all this means nothing if we're unable to measure the methane emissions, so we're going to have to look into that too. So...going to be a busy year coming up We're also playing with a new method for growing rice using pots, but more on this later when we can work out if it actually works or now.
 
Brett Pritchard
Posts: 12
Location: Australia
3
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I can assist you with brewing up some of this modified EM I mentioned in the post on stopping methane emissions ftom rice fields. It fits in perfectly with the organic / permaculture techniques you are already using, and it will stop your methane emissions and pull nitrogen into the flooded fields and carbon into the soil when the fields are drained. The same bacterial mix can be used to turn any organic matter from food waste to animal manures into organic probiotic fertiliser while producing no greenhouse gases. It is possible to brew up a couple of hundred litres ftom 500ml in a couple of months, then it is diluted 10:1 before application. I can buy the modified EM locally here in Australia, and have already posted some to a few 'facebook friends' who wanted to brew it up so they could construct the BioWicked garden beds I designed to utilise the fertiliser in urban food production systems. Send me an email at drytropics@gmail.com and we can work something out. All I'd want in repayment is some feedback on your experience using it, as I am excited about the prospect of seeing if it does stop methane emissions from wet paddy fields as a I theorise. Without a chemistry lab and scientific equipment it won't be possible to measure the paddy field emissions exactly, but you shoukd visibly see a ceasation of gas bubbling through the water from the soil. You coukd brew up a 'mother culture' mix then add organic matter and brew for another month to create the fertiliser. The mother culture on its own will have the bacterial action but contains very few nutrients.
 
Bryan Hugill
Posts: 10
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Brett Pritchard wrote:I can assist you with brewing up some of this modified EM I mentioned in the post on stopping methane emissions ftom rice fields. It fits in perfectly with the organic / permaculture techniques you are already using, and it will stop your methane emissions and pull nitrogen into the flooded fields and carbon into the soil when the fields are drained. The same bacterial mix can be used to turn any organic matter from food waste to animal manures into organic probiotic fertiliser while producing no greenhouse gases.


Many thanks for your very kind offer of sending me a sample of the mother culture; however, I do wonder how different it is to the various IMO (indigenous microorganism) mixtures we currently make using microorganisms sourced from local forests and other relatively unspoilt areas (aka. Korean Natural Farming techniques). We make a few different mixtures which are then added into our paddies at various growth stages to encourage root growth, tillering and healthy leaf formation, strong stems, and flowering / seed setting. At the moment, we yield almost double per hectare to what our chemical farming neighbours do, so it leads me to believe that we must be doing something right. Also, I very rarely see any bubbling from our paddies except when the ambient temperature is unseasonably hot (but this is probably best confirmed with proper methane emission testing). Perhaps, we could try this another way...I will try to get a local lab to check what microorganisms (incl. bacteria and fungi) we have in our mixtures and please let me know the same for your EM...then we can try to compare in theory which might work better in our conditions here (preferred conditions for optimal performance and sensitivity to fluctuations in, for example, pH, temperature, moisture requirements, nutrient sources, possible impacts on other resident microbes, etc.) and have a more firm foundation from which to work from before I introduce a new set of non-local microbes into my soil. Sound good?
 
Brett Pritchard
Posts: 12
Location: Australia
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have been told that the EM bacterial mix actually improves the conditions for beneficial indigenous microbes, and that by changing about 10% of a bacterial mix you can alter the rest as that 10% creates the conditions for other bacteria to thrive. I have read about IMOs and they are similar in many ways to EM. I don't know what would happen if you mixed the two but it could be worth trying. As far as being foreign bacteria, my understanding is that the bacteria in the EM naturally occurs all over the world. The main big advantage the EM has is the purple non-sulphurus photosynthetic bacteria that sequests carbon in aerobic environments and sequests nitrogen in anaerobic environments. As far as I know it is naturally occuring in the soil in some sunny marsh areas, so potentially you could find such an area and harvest the bacteria for addition to an IMO brew. The other big advantage of this EM is its stability, but this is more of an issue if producing biofertiliser for sale as farm-made IMO brews are usually used on site. As to the exact composition of the EM I use I don't know if even the developer of it even knows accurately. In addition to the additional purple non-sulphuric bacteria he also managed to incorporate an 8-step circular bacterial process, where the products of one group of bacteria are used by the next and so on finally circling around to the first group again. He said it wouldn't be possible to genetically test it as there are so many different bacteria involved, and that even if you could afford to get genetic testing done on all the bacteria by the time you measured it the composition would have changed.
 
Bryan Hugill
Posts: 10
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Brett Pritchard wrote:As far as I know it is naturally occuring in the soil in some sunny marsh areas, so potentially you could find such an area and harvest the bacteria for addition to an IMO brew. The other big advantage of this EM is its stability, but this is more of an issue if producing biofertiliser for sale as farm-made IMO brews are usually used on site. As to the exact composition of the EM I use I don't know if even the developer of it even knows accurately. In addition to the additional purple non-sulphuric bacteria he also managed to incorporate an 8-step circular bacterial process, where the products of one group of bacteria are used by the next and so on finally circling around to the first group again. He said it wouldn't be possible to genetically test it as there are so many different bacteria involved, and that even if you could afford to get genetic testing done on all the bacteria by the time you measured it the composition would have changed.


OK, will shoot an email over to you and we can give your EM a try over here in a test paddy. We're also looking into ways to measure paddy methane emissions in real-time at the moment (N2O comes next), so hopefully everything will mesh nicely before the next growing season and we have everything happening at the same time. Cheers!

As a side-note, I am also curious to see the impacts of the microbe activity on arsenic mobility in the soil/rice, as this is also an issue that plagues rice farms when we get down to the much more specialised realm of processing rice for baby foods. But more on that another day....
 
Bryan Hugill
Posts: 10
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Brett -

I emailed you a little while ago, but have no heard back from you. Could you check? Maybe it got lost in your Junk folder?

Thanks!
Bryan
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic