Thai farmers are trying a new, climate-friendly way to grow rice

A new agricultural program in central Thailand is working with farmers to change the way they grow rice, in a bid to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from rice paddies while saving water, time and money.

The program, backed by the Thai government and German development agency GIZ, aims to get 100,000 households in the plains of Thailand to adopt a rice farming method called alternate wetting and drying, in which paddies are only flooded intermittently, rather than for most of the season.

Traditional lowland rice farming releases a significant amount of greenhouse gases, as organic matter decomposes under the water of flooded paddies and emits methane.

Alternating between wetting and drying means the rice farms emit less methane and use less water—water that would often be piped in using diesel-powered pumps. Though the emissions from rice farming are dwarfed by those from fossil fuels or the livestock industry, farmers who change their practices can still have an impact.

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Skylar Lindsay