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Journal of Geophysical Research

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Rice agriculture, Methane, China


Emissions of methane and nitrous oxide, two significant greenhouse gases, were measured from rice fields at Qingyuan in Guangdong Province, China. The region has a subtropical climate which allows two crops of rice to be grown every year. The prevailing agricultural practices create a complex interaction between factors known to have a major effect on methane and nitrous oxide emissions from rice fields, namely, intermittent flooding and use of organic fertilizers. In this region, the farmers depend on nitrogen fertilizers and, at least in recent years, have only intermittently flooded their fields during the growing seasons. These factors tend to reduce methane emissions. But the rice straw and crop residues from the first crop of the year are plowed into the fields, providing a large addition of organic material under hot weather conditions favorable to quick decomposition during the second crop period. This, and the addition of farmyard manure, increases emissions of methane emissions from these fields. The results of the present study show that the effect of these competing factors and their timing lead to an average rate of emissions of 5 ± 2 and 6 ± 2 mg/m2/h from the first crops for the 2 years when measurements were taken (2003 and 2004), and 12 ± 8 and 13 ± 8 mg/m2/h from the second crop. Further, production measurements showed that during the 2 years of these experiments, the average production rates were about 27 mg/m2/h for the first crop and 22–34 mg/m2/h for the second crop, resulting in estimated oxidation rates of about 80% for the first crop and 50–60% for the second crop. The higher fluxes in the second crop therefore appear to be caused more by reduced oxidation than higher production. Nitrous oxide emissions, when they were detected, usually occurred within a few days after the application of nitrogen fertilizers. The seasonally averaged emissions were between 0.01 and 0.02 mg/m2/h except in the first year when large emissions over one short period pushed the average upward


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