Organic rice paddies use less energy

Photo credit: Adam Levine Photo credit: Adam Levine

A recent study published in the Journal of Environmental Management assessed energy usage and yields for organic and conventional rice production systems in the Piemonte region of Italy and in Missouri. Researchers collected data on both direct and indirect energy usage for 12 farms. Direct measures of energy use included the amount of fuel and electricity to operate farm equipment. Indirect measures included the use of pesticides and fertilizers, farm machinery and seeds—inputs that required energy for manufacture and processing prior to arriving on the farm.  The results showed that organic rice farming utilized above 50 percent less energy than conventional rice farming, while organic rice yields were only 8 percent less than those measured on conventional farms. These results suggest that organic rice production provides an energy-efficient production method, and “the use of renewable energy sources, as already practiced by some farms, could more than cover their electrical energy requirements,” according to the authors.