How Does Rice Growing Produce Methane Gas?

Rice growing produces methane gas by feeding microbes that live under the rice paddies. Rice is the world’s second biggest crop in terms of production.

Rice agriculture is one of the most significant human-created sources of methane gas. In a world affected by climate change, growing rice is becoming less and less environmentally friendly. Higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere cause the rice plants in paddies to grow at a more rapid rate. This in turn feeds the microscopic organisms that live under the paddies faster, causing more methane to enter the atmosphere. Furthermore, rising temperatures lower the rice yield, meaning that more methane is created per each pound of rice produced.

However, these problems are solvable if growers implement certain farming techniques. For example, since 2000, rice farmers in China have begun to drain the rice paddies instead of flooding them in the middle of the growing season as well as using different fertilizers, which reduced methane emissions significantly. Other recommended options put forth by scientists include switching to rice varieties that are more resistant to heat and making changes to the planting and harvesting dates. This would help alleviate the problem of diminished yields, effectively lowering the methane emissions each pound of rice produces.