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CO2 Emission Reduction of the Rice Cultivation Through Energy Valorisation of the Rice Straw (LIFE SOSTRICE)
Date du début: 2 juin 2014, Date de fin: 31 mai 2017 PROJET  TERMINÉ 

Background According to the national ministry of agriculture, food and the environment, around 121 746 hectares were under rice cultivation in Spain in the 2011-12 agricultural season. One of the main environmental challenges of rice cultivation is the management of the organic waste material known as ‘rice straw’. Burning the rice stubble in the field releases large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere and creates fire risks to adjacent areas of high environmental value. The main current alternative, which involved grinding the straw into the soil, leads to anaerobic digestion and uncontrolled fermentation, releasing methane and hydrogen sulphide into the atmosphere and the soil. Two important rice cultivation areas, which are close to areas of high environmental value, are: ‘Las Marismas del Guadalquivir’ (35 000 ha) in the Doñana Natural Park in Andalusia; and ‘L'Albufera’ (15 000 ha) in the L’Albufera Natural Park in Valencia. Together, they account for more than 50% of the rice production in Spain. Objectives LIFE SOSTRICE is a demonstration project that aims to reduce energy, fertiliser and water consumption in rice cultivation by means of a sustainable rice straw management system. The model will involve the treatment of rice straw and its obtained by-products using controlled anaerobic digestion and combustion technologies. The application and demonstration of the SOSTRICE model will be carried out in two of the most important rice cultivation areas of Spain, which are situated within two protected areas: Doñana and L’Albufera Natural Parks, in Andalucía and Valencia respectively. The project expects to recover energy in the form of: electrical energy from the controlled incineration of rice straw, and biofuels from controlled anaerobic digestion. The remaining by-product from these controlled treatment processes will be used as an organic fertiliser. Both the recovered energy and the fertiliser will be re-used within the rice cultivation industry to replace the consumption of non-renewable fossil fuels and inorganic fertilisers. By using the waste and avoiding the consumption of raw materials, it will have a double benefit, reducing the life-cycle costs of the industry and improving its environmental sustainability. Finally, the project also expects to reduce water consumption. By avoiding fermentation of the rice straw in the fields, the project will reduce the need to use water to condition and irrigate the fields before and during rice cultivation. Expected results: Exploitation of rice straw through controlled processes of incineration and anaerobic digestion, producing: o Electrical energy (1 800 kWh/t rice straw); o Bio-fuels (1 540 kWh/t rice straw); o Bio-fertilisers (2.52 kg N/t rice straw, which is 42% of the total nitrogen needed for rice cultivation); Avoidance of environmental costs of uncontrolled incineration and fermentation in the field; Replacement of fossil fuel energy consumption in agricultural machinery and irrigation equipment with electric energy and bio-fuels produced from rice straw; Reduction in the use of inorganic fertilisers in rice cultivation, replacing them with bio-fertiliser created from the anaerobic digestate from the rice straw; Reduction in the total water consumption of rice cultivation by 10-15%, which implies an overall annual decrease of 55.6 hm3 in the areas of Doñana and L’Albufera; Reduction in the overall CO2 emissions per t/rice produced of between 1 110 - 1 226 kg CO2-eq – amounting to 0.25% of the total Spanish GHG emissions and approximately 0.07-0.1% of total GHG emissions in EU-27.


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