Single midseason drainage events decrease global warming potential without sacrificing grain yield in flooded rice systems

Henry Perry, Daniela Carrijo, Bruce Linquist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Rice (Oryza sativa L.) cultivation is an important part of global food security, yet it is also responsible for a significant portion of agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, particularly methane (CH4). Midseason drainage of flooded rice fields can decrease CH4 emissions, but the magnitude of CH4 reduction and its effect on grain yield are variable due to variation in the timing and soil-drying severity of drainage across studies. Therefore, in this two-year study, we aimed to quantify the effect of timing and severity of a single midseason drainage event on seasonal GHG emissions and grain yields, compared to a continuously flooded (CF) control. Treatments varied in terms of soil-drying severity (low, medium, and high, corresponding to approximately 5, 8, and 12 days of drying, respectively) and the timing of when drainage events occurred (between 34–49 and 45–59 days after seeding, or roughly between tillering and panicle initiation). Soil moisture parameters (perched water table, volumetric water content, gravimetric water content (GWC), and soil water potential), soil mineral nitrogen, CH4 and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions, grain yield, and yield components were all quantified. Midseason drainage reduced seasonal CH4 emissions by 38–66%, compared to the CF control. Seasonal CH4 emissions decreased with increasing drain severity, and for every 1% reduction in soil GWC during the drainage period, seasonal CH4 emissions were reduced by 2.5%. The timing of drainage had no significant impact on CH4 emissions. Emissions of N2O were low (average = 0.035 kg N2O-N ha−1) and accounted for only 0.5% of the seasonal global warming potential (GWP) across all drainage treatments. Within each year, drainage did not significantly affect grain yield compared to the CF control. Additionally, midseason drainage reduced both GWP and yield-scaled GWP by approximately the same amount as seasonal CH4 emissions, as N2O emissions were minimal and yields were similar across treatments. These results indicate that midseason drainage may be a viable GHG mitigation practice in flooded rice systems with limited risk for yield reduction, however, this practice should also be further tested under a broad range of soil types and different environments to determine its widespread adoptability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108312
JournalField Crops Research
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


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