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Subsidence Mitigation Through Rice Cultivation

photo of river
Rice Cultivation – Twitchell Island


Rice is a wetland crop with an existing agricultural market that has the potential to accrete land mass and sequester carbon. The Subsidence Mitigation Rice Cultivation Research project (Project) will determine whether growing rice is economically feasible in the Delta, reverses subsidence, and whether it can be grown without deleterious effects to the environment. The Project area is a 320 acre parcel on Twitchell Island.

Project Description

DWR is collaborating with a team of private consultants as well as experts from the University of California and the USGS. Research is a key component to the Project. Some of the different research activities that will occur with the Project include hydrologic and water quality monitoring (dissolved organic carbon, methyl mercury), subsidence monitoring through the use of extensometers, air quality measurements (carbon dioxide, methane gas). Initial research data from 2009 and 2010 shows the rice fields stopped subsidence and achieved small amounts of accretion, sequestered atmospheric carbon dioxide, and acted as a sink for methyl mercury. Rice production doubled in 2010 to 300 acres of rice fields, and an additional 300 acres was constructed and prepared for future rice production in 2011.

Project Goals:

  1. Determine the viability of different rice growing methods within the Delta.
  2. Determine the rates/amounts of subsidence reversal/land accretion through rice farming.
  3. Determine the air and water quality impacts of rice cultivation.
  4. Determine the per acre costs/benefits to farmers of different methods of rice cultivation.
  5. Provide recommendations for Delta-wide implementation.