Brothers Jarrett and Trey Lawfield own and operate a 10,000-acre family farm in Catron, Missouri. The land was farmed by their parents and uncles before they took over the farming operation. The brothers grow climate-friendly rice, cotton, corn, and soybeans, and have tried and evaluated a multitude of techniques to improve operational efficiency and boost environmental benefits.
Photos from the Lawfield Farm in Catron, Missouri.
Row rice growing on the Lawfield Farm.
Good for the Farm.
Good for the Planet.
On the Lawfield Farm, the following practices and techniques reduce GHG emissions and boost environmental benefits:
Furrow Irrigated Rice
Furrow Irrigated, or “Row Rice,” is planted in rows, allowing water to flow down the length of the field. This requires less water and prevents standing water on the field from producing and releasing methane, which is created in the absence of oxygen. It also has demonstrated a 23% decrease in water use which is critical to fighting drought in the region. This growing season, U.S. agricultural regions have experienced abnormally dry, drought conditions. Pockets of moderate drought across the Mississippi Delta are threatening declines in crop productivity while driving water prices higher and impacting farmers’ bottom lines.
By not burning leftover plant residue on the field, black carbon emissions and pollution are avoided while allowing plant residue to decompose in the soil, increasing soil fertility.
Efficient Fertilizer Use
Split applications of fertilizer allow plants to absorb nitrogen before applying more, which prevents nitrogen from transforming into a gas and releasing into the air.
When soil tilling is necessary, conservation tillage prevents soil erosion, increases soil health, and requires lower operating compared to intensive, conventional tillage.
Rotating between rice and soybean strengthens soil fertility and can increase crop yield due to residual nitrogen from soybeans. This rotation can also manage pests and weeds, reduce soil erosion, and boost biodiversity.
In contrast to the Lawfield Farm, conventional crop production methods have a harsh impact on the farm and the environment by using excessive water and fuel, releasing GHGs, and requiring more labor.
“It’s tough to balance operating costs with making sustainable choices, but we continue to fine-tune and experiment each year based on what is best for our farm. The hard part is that no matter what choices we make, our crop is mingled with everyone else’s. We don’t get credit for added work that goes into these sustainable choices, and consumers never know the difference.”
– Jarrett Lawfield
Certifying Climate-Friendly Rice
AgriCapture was introduced to the Lawfields through existing relationships with early adopters of Climate-Friendly rice farmers in the Delta. By providing an independent 3rd party certification of Climate-Friendly growing practices, AgriCapture aims to help farmers like the Lawfields differentiate their rice from conventional rice.
“We were excited by the opportunity to differentiate our rice product and stand out as leaders on the forefront of sustainable agriculture.”
The AgriCapture Climate-Friendly Rice Certification starts at the farm to guarantee rice cultivation is beneficial for farmers and our climate. AgriCapture certifies farming practices and quantifies the environmental benefits on farms by examining farm records, collecting remote-sensing data, and identity preserving rice to your door.
To meet AgriCapture’s Climate Friendly Rice Standard, rice must be cultivated in a way that:
- reduces greenhouse gas emissions
- conserves water use
- reduces air pollution
The combination of Furrow Irrigated Rice, avoided field burning, and sustainable nitrogen application ensures that the Lawfield Farm is certified Climate-Friendly. Beyond the certification’s required practices, the Lawfields often implement conservation tillage and crop rotations for more agricultural and environmental benefits, as outlined above.
AgriCapture undertook certification on 25 of the Lawfields rice fields spanning 1,831 acres of rice that was grown in 2021. AgriCapture worked with the Lawfields to collect farm records that demonstrate Climate-Friendly practices. In addition, AgriCapture undertook analysis of several secondary datasets as part of its extensive data-driven verification process.
- To verify Furrow Irrigated Rice was grown and no pre-season flooding occurred, AgriCapture examined farm irrigation records and performed a field moisture analysis, relying on satellite sensors that can detect plant moisture. These sources indicate every irrigation event during the growing season and are used to prove the rice was not conventionally flooded, the key driver of methane emissions.
- By looking at available NASA and NOAA satellite data that captures fire instances, AgriCapture confirmed there were no burn events that occurred on the Lawfields’ rice crop.
- AgriCapture examined fertilizer receipts to confirm a split application of fertilizer, ensuring no spikes in nitrous oxide emissions occurred.
After verifying Climate-Friendly Rice cultivation, AgriCapture produced and issued a Climate-Friendly Rice Certification Report to the Lawfield Farm. The report was used to market the 2021 crop at a premium to climate-conscious buyers. Part of this premium is returned to AgriCapture to cover verification costs so there are zero out of pocket costs for the farmer. Rice that was purchased as part of the Certification program was identity preserved through the milling process by AgriCapture so buyers can ensure they are buying a uniquely differentiated product.
After completing 2022 harvest, the Lawfield Farm is seeking certification for 2,300 acres of Climate-Friendly Rice, displaying an expansion of climate-friendly acres on the Lawfield Farm and across U.S. rice growing regions.
“We’re excited to grow this program and our partnership with AgriCapture, while doing what’s right for our farm and the planet.”
– Jarrett Lawfield