The hydrogen sulfide formed in waterlogged soils is a serious problem in rice cultivation. It inhibits the uptake of water and nutrients and may even cause root-rot. Results can best be obtained by preventing the formation of hydrogen sulfide. It is formed mainly by reduction of sulfate for which the cellulose-butyric acid fermentation provides the hydrogen source. Addition of ammonium or potassium nitrate prevents the formation of H/sub 2/S. The hydrogen produced by butyric acid fermentation is used to reduce nitrate and consequently cannot be utilized by the sulfate-reducing bacteria as a source of energy. 6 references.