Aquaculture promises to feed an ever-growing population, replacing the ‘poor-man’s protein’ – rice – with fish protein. However, the conversion from rice paddies to create aquaculture environments is having far reaching and unintended consequence for global warming.
Researchers across the globe have been focusing their efforts towards understanding how anthropogenic actions affect the quantities of GHGs in the atmosphere. Key to understanding the underlying mechanisms of emissions are the microbial interactions inherent in soil processes.
“Paddy fields produce huge quantities of methane when decaying plant material is broken down by microbes called methanogens in the oxygen-free waterlogged paddy soils. But in the aquaculture ponds that are replacing the paddy fields, vast quantities of food are added to feed the crabs and fish that are being grown in them, and that massively increases the amount of rotting material for the methanogens to produce even more methane.”
There are ways of reducing the amount of Methane produced from these areas, namely aeration of the fields: this is an aspect of the studies that promises hope . However, applying these types of technology in rural areas of China can be considered a barrier to lowering emissions.
“We have known for some time that rice paddies were bad for global warming. But the realisation that there’s a “hidden” new source of problems is taking these threats to whole new level.”