Rice Farming Linked to Global Warming

A recently published study in Nature Climate Change suggests that a changing environment is making rice production a major source of greenhouse gas production.

With farmers still reeling from this summer’s devastating drought, more and more agricultural scientists are looking into the ramifications of climate change and global warming on the farm economy. A recent study suggests that climate change may have reached a stage of self-reproduction. The increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere along with increasing temperatures has the potential, scientists say, for significantly increasing the amount of methane released by rice paddies (which are already one of the leading sources of man-made methane).

 As organic matter decays in submerged environments (like flooded rice paddies) bacteria in the water and soil produce methane.

Increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere speeds up the growth of rice plants, which also speeds up the growth of the microscopic organisms that produce methane.

The study also suggested that relatively minor changes in rice cultivation practices could significantly reduce methane production. Mid-season draining combined with using alternative fertilizers can help push down methane productions, and using heat resistant plant strains in conjunction with changing sowing dates can help limit production decline, reducing methane production per yield.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer