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Scientists seeing reductions in methane emissions in row rice

Row rice may help farmers reduce the amount of nitrous oxides.

Forrest Laws

September 5, 2019

Planting rice in a furrow-irrigated system or row rice, as it’s also known, could result in lower methane gas emissions compared to those from fields planted in conventionally irrigated rice, research is showing.

Row rice may also help farmers reduce the amount of nitrous oxides or N2O coming from their fields, but the research is less settled on that topic, according to scientists with the USDA-ARS Delta Water Management Research Unit.

“From May, June and July, we found the emission of methane in the row rice field was 60 percent lower than in the MIRI (multiple-inlet rice irrigation) or continuously flooded fields, which means the process of row rice cropping really works with methane gas emissions,” said Dr. Arlene Adviento-Borbe, research scientist with the Delta Water Management Research Unit.

Adviento-Borbe, who is located with the unit at Arkansas State University, was one of the speakers at the Mississippi County Rice Irrigation Field Day near Blytheville, Ark. The event was sponsored by several organizations, including USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service.

“We did see some nitrous oxide emissions coming from row rice fields,” she noted. “But, to us, if you look at the total emissions of nitrous oxide coming from the field it would not be as high as the methane gas emissions.

“We are also looking at the other sources of nitrogen in row rice fields, the exchangeable nitrogen in the soil, and how this will be affecting our N2O emissions potential at the end of the season. We also continue to measure ammonia emissions in the field. As of now we did not see a huge amount of ammonia coming from the field.”

For more information about Adviento-Borbe’s research, visit

About the Author(s)

Forrest Laws

Forrest Laws spent 10 years with The Memphis Press-Scimitar before joining Delta Farm Press in 1980. He has written extensively on farm production practices, crop marketing, farm legislation, environmental regulations and alternative energy. He resides in Memphis, Tenn. He served as a missile launch officer in the U.S. Air Force before resuming his career in journalism with The Press-Scimitar.

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