SOURCE: The Independent

DATE: September 10, 2018

SNIP: Rice farming is known to be a major contributor to climate change, but new research suggests it is far bigger a problem than previously thought.

Techniques intended to reduce emissions while also cutting water use may in fact be boosting some greenhouse gases, meaning the impact of rice cultivation may be up to twice as bad as previous estimates suggest.

Scientists at the US-based advocacy group the Environmental Defense Fund suggest the short-term warming impact of these additional gases in the atmosphere could be equivalent to 1,200 coal power plants.

The main culprit is methane, a potent greenhouse gas emitted from flooded rice fields as bacteria in the waterlogged soil produce it in large quantities. However, there is another gas produced by rice fields that can have a harmful climate effect. Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, is also produced by soil microbes in rice fields.

The full climate impact of rice farming has been significantly underestimated because up to this point, nitrous dioxide emissions from intermittently flooded farms have not been included,” said Dr Kritee Kritee from the Environmental Defense Fund, who led the research.

Despite being a powerful greenhouse gas in its own right that traps even more heat in the atmosphere than methane over long time periods, most rice producing countries do not report their nitrous oxide emissions.