A comparative study on carbon footprint of rice production between household and aggregated farms from Jiangxi, China

  • Ming Yan
  • Ting Luo
  • Rongjun Bian
  • Kun ChengEmail author
  • Genxing Pan
  • Robert Rees


Quantifying the carbon footprint (CF) for crop production can help identify key options to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in agriculture. In the present study, both household and aggregated farm scales were surveyed to obtain the data of rice production and farming management practices in a typical rice cultivation area of Northern Jiangxi, China. The CFs of the different rice systems including early rice, late rice, and single rice under household and aggregated farm scale were calculated. In general, early rice had the lower CF in terms of land use and grain production being 4.54 ± 0.44 t CO2-eq./ha and 0.62 ± 0.1 t CO2-eq./t grain than single rice (6.84 ± 0.79 t CO2-eq./ha and 0.80 ± 0.13 t CO2-eq./t grain) and late rice (8.72 ± 0.54 t CO2-eq./ha and 1.1 ± 0.17 t CO2-eq./t grain). The emissions from nitrogen fertilizer use accounted for 33 % of the total CF on average and the direct CH4 emissions for 57 %. The results indicated that the CF of double rice cropping under aggregated farm being 0.86 ± 0.11 t CO2-eq./t grain was lower by 25 % than that being 1.14 ± 0.25 t CO2-eq./t grain under household farm, mainly due to high nitrogen use efficiency and low methane emissions. Therefore, developing the aggregated farm scale with efficient use of agro-chemicals and farming operation for greater profitability could offer a strategy for reducing GHG emissions in China’s agriculture.


Carbon footprint Aggregated farm Rice cropping system Climate change mitigation Greenhouse gas 



This work was funded by the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions (PAPD), and “111” project under a grant number B12009 and the UK-China Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Network (SAIN). This study was also partially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China under a grant number 41371300 and Science and Technology of China under a grant number 2013BAD11B01. The work was also a contribution to the cooperation between Nanjing Agricultural University and Scotland’s Rural College to which the corresponding author was assigned as a visiting professor in low carbon agriculture. We are grateful for the farmers for their patience in the field interview and for the students from the first author’s university participated in the survey work.

Supplementary material

10661_2015_4572_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (16 kb)
ESM 1 (XLSX 15 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Resource, Ecosystem and Environment of AgricultureNanjing Agricultural UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.Center of Agro-forestry Carbon Sink and Land RemediationZhejiang A&F UniversityLin-anChina
  3. 3.Carbon Management Center, Scotland’s Rural CollegePeter Wilson BuildingEdinburghUK

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