Irrigated paddy rice (Oryza sativa L.) is a staple food for roughly half of the world’s population. Concerns over water quality have arisen in recent decades, particularly in China, which is the largest rice-producing country in the world and has the most intensive use of nutrients and water in rice production. On the one hand, the poor water quality has constrained the use of water for irrigation to paddy systems in many areas of the world. On the other hand, nutrient losses from paddy production systems contribute to contamination and eutrophication of freshwater bodies. Here, we review rice production, water requirement, water quality issues, and management options to minimize nutrient losses from paddy systems. We conclude that management of nutrient source, rate, timing, and placement should be combined with the management of irrigation and drainage water to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus losses from paddies. More research is needed to identify cost-effective monitoring approaches and mitigation options, and relevant extension and policy should be enforced to achieve water quality goals. The review is preliminarily based on China’s scenario, but it would also provide valuable information for other rice-producing countries.
Part of the book: Irrigation in Agroecosystems