Support and Supervise Scientific Research related to Conservation and Sustainable Agriculture in China


Sustainable Agricultural Pioneers Scheme (SAPs)

In 2010 KFBG launched a Sustainable Agricultural Pioneers Scheme (SAPs). The intention was to provide seed-funding that will guide and promote the advancement of sustainable agriculture in China. The objectives of SAPs are:

1. To strengthen the scientific basis of identified sustainable agriculture techniques;
2. To promote networking among pioneers of sustainable agriculture in China;
3. To encourage the multiplication of sustainable agriculture by raising the profile of identified projects, people and institutions.

Rice and Climate Change

The inaugural 2010 theme of SAPs was “Rice and Climate Change”. Four projects were selected as Sustainable Agriculture Pioneers. Researchers on the selected projects have received funding from KFBG to explore ecological rice farming techniques. Besides considering the productivity, we are looking into the methane emissions from the various systems: rice-duck; rice-fish; aerobic rice and rice plastic-mulch technology. Methane is twenty times more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide and though it currently occurs at far lower concentration, it is the second most critical greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide.

Recipients of the 2010 KFBG Sustainable Agriculture Pioneers Awards



Research Topic

Prof. Wang Huaqi

China Agricultural University (Beijing)

Methane Emissions in Improved Upland Rice Production

Prof. Lu Shihua

Soil and Fertilizer Institute, Sichuan Academy of Agricultural Sciences (Chengdu)

Rice-Plastic Mulch Technology and Methane Emissions

Fang Yuen (Agronomist)

College of Agriculture, Guangxi University (Nanning)

Promotion of Sustainable Agriculture and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Research

Dr. Zhao Benliang

Prof. Zhang Jia’en

South China Agricultural University (Guangzhou)

Reduction of Methane Emissions in Rice-duck Cultivation Systems and the Mechanisms Involved


Rice-Plastic mulch Technology

The rice plastic-mulch technique is proving to be very exciting. Developed by Prof. Lu Shihua of the Sichuan Academy of Agricultural Sciences, it involves laying a sheet of plastic on the field surface, which keeps the soil warm, damp and sheltered from weather. It could tremendously increase rice yield and reduce costs, as a result of reduced labour, irrigation, fertilizer and pesticide needs; and this technology is slowly spreading in recent years.

In Shuanghe Village, Dongxi Town, Ziyang City, Sichuan Province, the average organic rice yield is 724 kg/mu (10.86 tons/ha) under plastic-mulch technique. This is a very high yield, breaking the organic rice yield barrier which is only 350-400 kg/mu at most. As a comparison, non-organic chemical-based rice production in the same area has an average yield of 510 kg/mu (7.65 tons/ha), while non-organic chemical-based methods using plastic mulch with 66% reduction in chemical fertilizer use and no herbicide, gets an average yield of 670 kg/mu (10.04 tons/ha). The whole village has now converted to organic production, and sells their organic rice under the brand name, “New Heavenly Organic Rice”. Compared to conventional (chemical-based) rice farming, the plastic-mulch technique reduced overall greenhouse-gas emission by 11%. The only drawback of the technology is the plastic sheets that need to be properly recycled.

Rice-duck Cultivation Systems

The other promising ecological rice-growing systems are the rice-duck and rice-fish systems. The ducks help aerate the soil when they waddle in the mud. They also fertilise the rice with their manure, and when introduced in the rice field right after transplanting they eat the weed and insect pests. Farmers also love it as they can have duck in addition to their rice harvest, increasing the farmers’ income. This is one of the most synergistic rice farming systems, and also reduces methane emissions.

Fish in rice paddy fields also help fertilise the rice and control pests, though not as effectively as the ducks. But with fish in the paddies, farmers are deterred from using pesticides, therefore reducing river pollution. However, the rice-fish system could not significantly reduce methane emissions.

Aerobic rice production, (rice grown on dry land instead of flooded paddies), has the lowest methane emission. But aerobic rice farming has lower yields compared to the paddy system, making farmers reluctant to adopt it.


KFBG Studentships (1998-2009)

The KFBG Studentships Scheme was initiated in 1998, with the aim of supporting young people dedicated to developing their careers in field biology and biodiversity conservation in South China. Studentships were awarded to successful candidates who were full-time M.Phil. or Ph.D. students conducting research related to conservation, or in some cases to sustainable living or sustainable agriculture. Other than funding to conduct fieldwork, many received extra technical guidance through the Scheme.

In view of the changing financial circumstances and the more broadly available research funding resources in the region, and our desire to be more flexible in support of conservation-related capacity-building, it was decided to suspend this Scheme from 2010 onwards. Other suitable projects may still be supported via our small project grants scheme. For inquiries, please contact