Sustainability Report: Energy Use and Air Quality

Rows of blue solar panels in a green field with grain bins in the background
Energizing the operation
May 30, 2019
Another in our series highlighting the U.S. Rice Industry Sustainability Report

ARLINGTON, VA -- The benefits of sustainability measures are not always visible to the naked eye.  Cleaner air and efficient energy usage may not be quite as tangible as clear water, healthy soil, or waterfowl, and that’s why the U.S. Rice Industry Sustainability Report is so important—it quantifies and catalogs the great strides rice farmers have made in air quality and energy since 1980, and the innovations they continue to make.
Much of this sustainability series so far has focused on efficiency—how rice farmers are using less water, making fewer passes over the field, and using less acreage to produce greater yields.  Almost all of these sustainability efforts have the added advantage of reducing energy usage, and it has made a marked difference.  During the 36-year period covered by the report, energy use in U.S. rice production has decreased by 34 percent, and farmers are continuing to modernize and streamline their operations to use even less.
All of these energy saving measures reduce greenhouse gasses and reliance on fossil fuels, which leads to better air quality for everyone.  From 1980 to 2015, the rice industry has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 41 percent per hundredweight of rice produced.  
The U.S. Rice Industry Sustainability Report details dozens of other steps farmers and millers are taking to reduce energy use, improve air quality, and make their operations more sustainable.  From recycling to energy-efficient lighting, there are many innovative techniques and new technologies that reduce rice’s carbon footprint on a daily basis.  It may not always be directly observable, but it makes a huge difference.  

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