Arsenic exposure through rice consumption is a growing concern. Compared to Continuous Flooding (CF), irrigation practices that dry the soil at least once during the growing season [referred to here as Alternate Wetting and Drying (AWD)] can decrease As accumulation in grain; however, this can simultaneously increase grain Cd to potentially unsafe levels. We modelled grain As and Cd from field studies comparing AWD and CF to identify optimal AWD practices to minimize the accumulation of As and Cd in grain. The severity of soil drying during AWD drying event(s), quantified as soil water potential (SWP), was the main factor leading to a reduction in grain total As and inorganic As, compared to CF. However, lower SWP levels were necessary to decrease grain inorganic As, compared to total As. Therefore, if the goal is to decrease grain inorganic As, the soil needs to be dried further than it would for decreasing total As alone. The main factor driving grain Cd accumulation was when AWD was practiced during the season. Higher grain Cd levels were observed when AWD occurred during the early reproductive stage. Further, higher Cd levels were observed when AWD spanned multiple rice growth stages, compared to one stage. If Cd levels are concerning, the minimum trade-off between total As and Cd accumulation in rice grain occurred when AWD was implemented at a SWP of −47 kPa during one stage other than the early reproductive. While these results are not meant to be comprehensive of all the interactions affecting the As and Cd dynamics in rice systems, they can be used as a first guide for implementing AWD practices with the goal of minimizing the accumulation of As and Cd in rice grain.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Engineering
- Environmental Chemistry
- Waste Management and Disposal