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Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by no-tilling rice cultivation in Hachirogata polder, northern Japan: Life-cycle inventory analysis

HARADA, Hisatomi, KOBAYASHI, Hitomi, SHINDO, Hayato
Soil science and plant nutrition 2007 v.53 no.5 pp. 668-677
Oryza sativa, carbon, carbon dioxide, energy use and consumption, equipment, global warming, grain yield, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases, herbicides, life cycle inventory, manufacturing, methane, nitrous oxide, paddies, puddling, rice, slow-release fertilizers, soil, soil respiration, spraying, straw, Japan
The scenarios for conventional puddling and no-tilling rice (Oryza sativa L.) cultivation were compared in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from paddy fields, fuel consumption and manufacturing of invested materials using a life cycle inventory (LCI) based analysis. Only the differences between the scenarios were examined. The no-tilling scenario omitted both tilling and puddling, but included spraying of a non-selective herbicide and used a transplanter equipped with a rotor. Fertilization was a basal single application of controlled release fertilizer in nursery boxes for all scenarios. After transplanting, there were no differences in machine work, invested materials or rice yields between the scenarios. The no-tilling scenario saved on fuel consumption, totaling carbon dioxide (CO₂) output of 42 kg ha⁻¹, which was equal to the 6% reported GHG emissions from fuel consumption by operating machines during rice production in Japan. Methane (CH₄) and nitrous oxide (N₂O) emissions from the paddy fields were also monitored and compared for the scenarios. Methane has a major effect on global warming as part of the GHG emitted from paddy fields. The cumulative CH₄ emissions from the no-tilling cultivation were 43% lower than those from conventional puddling cultivation because the plow layer was more oxidative in no-tilling cultivation. The N₂O emissions were not significantly different between the cultivation scenarios. There were no significant differences in soil respiration, soil carbon contents or straw yields between the cultivation scenarios. The effect of tillage on CO₂ flux in the paddy fields did not seem to be significant in this study. Consequently, the GHG emissions from the no-tilling field counted as CO₂ using global warming potentials were 1,741 kg CO₂ ha⁻¹ lower than those from the conventional puddling field. In conclusion, no-tilling rice cultivation has the potential to save 1,783 kg CO₂ ha⁻¹ calculated using the sum of fuel consumption and GHG emissions from paddy fields. No-tilling rice cultivation is considered to be environmentally friendly agriculture with respect to reducing GHG emissions.