The conversion of wetlands to agriculture through drainage and flooding, and the burning of wetland areas for agriculture have important implications for greenhouse gas (GHG) production and changing carbon stocks. However, the estimation of net GHG changes from mitigation practices in agricultural wetlands is complex compared to dryland crops. Agricultural wetlands have more complicated carbon and nitrogen cycles with both above- and below-ground processes and export of carbon via vertical and horizontal movement of water through the wetland. This letter reviews current research methodologies in estimating greenhouse gas production and provides guidance on the provision of robust estimates of carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions in agricultural wetlands through the use of low cost reliable and sustainable measurement, modelling and remote sensing applications. The guidance is highly applicable to, and aimed at, wetlands such as those in the tropics and sub-tropics, where complex research infrastructure may not exist, or agricultural wetlands located in remote regions, where frequent visits by monitoring scientists prove difficult. In conclusion, the proposed measurement-modelling approach provides guidance on an affordable solution for mitigation and for investigating the consequences of wetland agricultural practice on GHG production, ecological resilience and possible changes to agricultural yields, variety choice and farming practice.
Originally Published in: Environmental Research Letters (2013).