Tech reduces emissions from paddy fields in Zhejiang

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Farmers harvest rice in Deqing, Zhejiang Province. (Photo by Wang Zheng/For China Daily)

The first low-carbon paddy field in the Yangtze River Delta region can achieve a 20 percent reduction in carbon emissions compared to traditional rice cultivation without sacrificing yield, according to statistics from the China National Rice Research Institute.

The paddy field is located in Xitang Water Town, Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province.

The main goal of reducing carbon emissions during rice cultivation is to reduce methane gas emissions, energy consumption and chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides, said Wang Danying, deputy director of the Rice Research and Development Center at the China National Rice Research Institute.

The low-carbon paddy field project covers 266,800 square meters and can achieve precise fertilization and irrigation based on rice growth differentiation through spectral analysis provided by drones and a visualization platform.

“The high-resolution camera in the rice field automatically detects pests. When the pests reach a certain number, the system can detect it and give instructions to spray at the right time,” said Sun Lili, director of the Zhuxiaohui Low-Carbon Rice Project.

Sun uses a mobile phone to check the pest control status of the field, and once the system issues an alert, he can use his phone to contact the field worker, and a drone can carry out the pest control on the target plot.

Tending a paddy field used to cost as much as 2,700 yuan (US$377) per hectare per year, but that has been reduced to 2,250 yuan.

The China National Rice Research Institute has partnered with companies like Aliyun, Alibaba’s cloud-computing subsidiary, to develop low-carbon rice-growing technology.

This technology relies on the platform linked with three intelligent control systems for precise irrigation and drainage, unmanned agricultural machinery and greenery prevention and control, and three online automatic detection systems for water, gas and soil, realizing significant carbon reduction.

This technology is expected to save 90 kilograms of methane emissions per hectare, equivalent to around 2,250 kg of greenhouse gas emissions of carbon dioxide.

Wang said the technology can achieve high rice yields and carbon reduction at the same time, serving the entire Yangtze River Delta, the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and more parts of the country in the future.


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