, Volume 58, Issue 1-3, pp 75-83

Methane Emissions from Irrigated Rice Fields in Northern India (New Delhi)

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Abstract

Methane (CH4) emission fluxes from rice fields as affected by water regime, organic amendment, and rice cultivar were measured at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, using manual and automatic sampling techniques of the closed chamber method. Measurements were conducted during four consecutive cropping seasons (July to October) from 1994 to 1997. Emission rates were very low (between 16 and 40 kg CH4 m−2 season−1) when the field was flooded permanently. These low emissions were indirectly caused by the high percolation rates of the soil; frequent water replenishment resulted in constant inflow of oxygen in the soil. The local practice of intermittent flooding, which encompasses short periods without standing water in the field, further reduced emission rates. Over the course of four seasons, the total CH4 emission from intermittently irrigated fields was found to be 22% lower as compared with continuous flooding. The CH4 flux was invariably affected by rice cultivar. The experiments conducted during 1995 with one cultivar developed by IRRI (IR72) and two local cultivars (Pusa 169 and Pusa Basmati) showed that the average CH4 flux from the intermittently irrigated plots without any organic amendment ranged between 10.2 and 14.2 mg m−2 d−1. The impact of organic manure was tested in 1996 and 1997 with varieties IR72 and Pusa 169. Application of organic manure (FYM + wheat straw) in combination with urea (1:1 N basis) enhanced CH4 emission by 12–20% as compared with fields treated with urea only. The site in New Delhi represents one example of very low CH4 emissions from rice fields. Emissions from other sites in northern India may be higher than those in New Delhi, but they are still lower than in other rice-growing regions in India. The practice of intermittent irrigation--in combination with low organic inputs--is commonly found in northern India and will virtually impede further mitigation of CH4 emissions in significant quantities. In turn, the results of this study may provide clues to reduce emissions in other parts of India with higher baseline emissions.