Rice cultivation is considered to be one of the main contributing factors to the dangerous levels of greenhouse gases that our planet currently has.
Water saturation in the wetlands makes for low-oxygen conditions which allow microbes living in these wetlands to produce a great deal of methane, most of it actually, whereas rice paddies are basically human-controlled wetlands. They’re literally one of the worse things for the environment.
The microbes are easily provided with food that they turn into methane. Deep down in a rice paddy’s muck, the rice plant’s roots release several organic compounds that eventually die off, then decay and feed the microbes.
While researchers are actively working on various methods of limiting this methane production, farmers will never have it as a priority as they’re much more interested in selling great amounts of their product, especially since rice is in high demand.
But a study conducted by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences offers some hope for the future of the planet, as well as for the continued high production of rice. The researchers want farmers to increase growth above ground level rather than growth below ground level. This causes yield to go up and methane to go down.
Led by Jun Su, Xia Yan and Changquan Hu, the researchers took a gene from a barley plant and used it to develop a rice plant that’s genetically modified and complies to the above mentioned scenario.
As the team knew that the barley gene would allow the rice plant to grow food above ground level, the next step was to plant several stains in different areas all across China. They kept on eye out for places with varying climates as they wanted to see how the genetically modified plant would fair when faced with different conditions.
The results showed that the genetically modified rice plant produced somewhere between 90 percent (90%) and 99 percent (99%) less methane, depending on which growth stage it was in.
On top of everything, the genetically modified rice plant also had stronger flower clusters, produced more seeds and 50 percent (50%) more rice
As far as the objective of the test, the plant produced 30 percent (30%) more rice above ground level and 35 percent (35%) less rice below ground level.
The scientific community is very happy the finding and excited to conduct further tests.
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