Climatic Change

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 13-26

First online:

Rice paddies as a methane source

  • K. MinamiAffiliated withTsukuba, National Institute of Agro-Environmental Sciences
  • , H. -U. NeueAffiliated withInternational Rice Research Institute

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Rice fields are considered to be among the highest sources of atmospheric methane, an important source of global warming. In order to meet the projected rice needs of the increasing world population, it is estimated that the annual world's rough rice production must increase to 760 million tons (a 65% increase) in the next 30 years. This will increase methane emissions from ricefields if current technologies are kept. Methane emissions from ricefields are affected by climate, water regime, soil properties, and various cultural practices like irrigation and drainage, organic amendments, fertilization, and rice cultivars. Irrigated rice comprises 50% of the world-harvested rice area and contributes 70% to total rice production. Because of assured flooding during the growing period it is the primary source of methane. Rainfed rice emits less methane due to periods of droughts. Upland rice, being never flooded for a significant period of time, is not a significant source of methane. There is great potential to develop ‘no regret’ mitigation options that are in accordance with increasing rice production.