Agroscope researches rice production in Switzerland – but what is the greenhouse-gas balance of this crop like?
Organic soils – for example, former peatlands – emit a great deal of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide when drained for arable farming. By cultivating rice on flooded fields, we can significantly reduce the emission of these greenhouse gases. At the same time, however, the wet fields produce more methane – also a greenhouse gas – than drained arable land.
According to estimates and measurements, the overall balance looks positive. However, the question arises as to whether methane-gas production on rice fields could be reduced. Based on the current findings, rice production on organic soils with a mineral top layer performs the best. In recent years, these trials have been conducted on wet rather than flooded fields, i.e. the water has come to just below the surface at most. The ongoing trials in 2023 are taking place on flooded soils.
Over the long term, it would also be important to test additional management options in order to further optimise the greenhouse-gas balance.