DHAKA, Bangladesh, and MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala., USA – IFDC is researching and mitigating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that result from lowland rice farming in Bangladesh through a new ‘climate-smart’ component of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Accelerating Agriculture Productivity Improvement (AAPI) project. The project will quantify the environmental benefits of fertilizer deep placement (FDP) technology and build Bangladesh’s national capacity to incorporate climate change activities into development programs. The new activity integrates the U.S. government’s Global Climate Change Initiative into its Feed the Future initiative. Bangladesh is a priority country for both initiatives.
Rice farms account for 85 percent of Bangladesh’s agricultural land and emit greenhouse gases in the form of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. Inefficient fertilizer use in rice farming increases nitrous oxide and nitric oxide emissions. It is estimated that farms are responsible for 9 to 13 percent of GHG emissions worldwide. In addition, runoff of excess nitrogen and phosphorus can severely impact wetland and coastal habitats, and the ineffective management of crops, soils, water and nutrients not only leads to lower yields and inefficient resource use but also results in higher GHG emission rates.
“FDP is likely to significantly reduce GHG emissions, particularly nitrous oxide and nitric oxide emissions, and will further mitigate climate change by substantially reducing ammonia volatilization losses and the nitrification process in the wetlands,”
Dr. Upendra Singh, IFDC principal scientist-systems modeling (soil fertility).
Most rice farmers broadcast urea (the most common nitrogen-based fertilizer) directly into the floodwater of lowland rice. This results in inefficiencies in nitrogen uptake by the crop with only one-third of the applied nitrogen utilized by the rice crop.
FDP is a simple yet innovative technology that improves the efficiency in crop uptake of applied nitrogen. When used on lowland rice, FDP involves the placement of 1-3 grams of fertilizer supergranules (also known as briquettes) at a soil depth of 7-10 centimeters shortly after the rice is transplanted. FDP increases nitrogen use efficiency because most of the fertilizer’s nitrogen stays in the soil, close to the plant roots where it is absorbed more effectively. The benefits of the technology are significant – crop yield increases average 20 percent, nitrogen losses decrease approximately 40 percent and 35 percent less fertilizer is used.
“The AAPI project is expanding FDP technology to over a million hectares involving 2.5 million farmers,” said John Allgood, director of IFDC’s EurAsia Division. “Altogether, FDP technology is used on more than 12 percent of Bangladesh’s rice-growing land. FDP technology is helping to increase yields and reduce the cost of fertilization. It also helps reduce negative impacts on Bangladesh’s ecosystems and thereby contributes to the country’s resilience to climate change.”
The new project component will determine nitrous oxide and nitric oxide emission rates and the effect of resource-efficient technologies such as FDP on mitigating emissions and improving crop production. IFDC recently designed and constructed greenhouse gas chambers that take continuous long-term measurements of the amount of nitrous oxide and nitric oxide released from the soil during rice production and also during the non-rice/fallow period. Given the efficiency of the system and reliability of the results experienced to date during IFDC trials, the chambers can be used across various cropping systems and field conditions in Bangladesh and other countries. Data collection will begin in Bangladesh during the 2013 Boro (irrigated) season.
In addition, the project will build the capacity of Bangladeshi agricultural research institutes to measure nitrogen losses and GHG emissions and to develop research programs that address climate change issues. IFDC partners include the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute, Bangladesh Agriculture University and other research universities, the Bangladesh Ministry of Agriculture and its Department of Agricultural Extension and private sector organizations.
IFDC, headquartered in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, USA, is a public international organization, governed by an international board of directors with representation from developed and developing countries. The nonprofit Center, with over 700 employees involved in projects that span more than 35 countries in Africa and Eurasia, is supported by various bilateral and multilateral aid agencies, private foundations and national governments.
IFDC focuses on increasing and sustaining food security and agricultural productivity in developing countries through the development and transfer of effective and environmentally sound crop nutrient technology and agribusiness expertise.