Impacts of variable soil drying in alternate wetting and drying rice systems on yields, grain arsenic concentration and soil moisture dynamics

Daniela R. Carrijo, Nadeem Akbar, André F.B. Reis, Chongyang Li, Amélie C.M. Gaudin, Sanjai J. Parikh, Peter G. Green, Bruce A. Linquist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


Continuously flooded rice systems are a major contributor to global rice production and food security. Allowing the soil to dry periodically during the growing season (such as with alternate wetting and drying irrigation - AWD) has been shown to decrease methane emissions, water usage, and heavy metal accumulation in rice grain. However, the effects of AWD on rice yields are variable and not well understood. A two-year study was established to quantify the impacts of a range of treatments differing in AWD severity (degree of soil drying between flooding events) on yield (as well as factors that may affect yields), soil hydrology in the soil profile, and grain arsenic (As) concentrations relative to a continuously flooded control (CF). Three AWD treatments of increasing severity were imposed between full canopy cover (around 45 days after sowing) and 50% heading: AWD-Safe (field was reflooded when the perched water table reached 15 cm below the soil surface) and AWD35 and AWD25 (field was reflooded when the soil volumetric water content at 0–15 cm depth reached 35% and 25%, respectively). During the drying periods, the 0–15 cm soil layer in the AWD-Safe remained saturated, whereas in AWD35 and AWD25 the soil dried to the desired volumetric water contents. In contrast, soil moisture at 25–35 cm below the soil surface was similar across all treatments. Yield was not reduced in any of the AWD treatments, compared to the CF control. There were no consistent differences in yield components, 13C discrimination, and N dynamics. Results suggest that the availability of water and the presence of roots at the 25–35 cm soil depth during the drying periods ensured that the crop did not suffer drought stress and thus yields were maintained. Grain As concentration in the AWD-Safe treatment was similar to that in the CF control but decreased by 56–68% in AWD35 and AWD25. AWD-Safe is often promoted as a means of practicing AWD without reducing yields; however, in this study this practice did not reduce grain As concentration because the soil did not reach an unsaturated state. These findings demonstrate that knowledge of surface and subsurface hydrology, and the root system are important for understanding the potential of AWD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-110
Number of pages10
JournalField Crops Research
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


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