International contribution to wheat research

Associate Professor James Hunt, from the College of Science, Health and Engineering, has edited a special issue on wheat agronomy

The Wheat Initiative's Expert Working Group on Wheat Agronomy has published a special issue exploring genotype (G) x environment (E) x management (M) synergies in Frontiers in Plant Science.

The open access special issue, co-edited by Associate Professor James Hunt, brings together wheat agronomy research from around the world that seeks to improve crop yields through synergies between genotype, the environment and management.

Wheat is the most widely grown crop in the world and the cornerstone of food security. With the global population set to reach 10 billion by 2050, wheat yields must increase to meet growing demand.

“In many wheat growing regions, there is a gap between the highest yields possible for the amount of water available, and yield that farmers achieve in their paddocks,” explains Hunt. “This is referred to as the ‘yield gap’ and is often due to farmers using sub-optimal combinations of crop management and genotype for their production environment.”

The good news is that closing yield gaps represent a ‘low hanging fruit’ when it comes to increasing global wheat yields. Research, development, extension and adoption of optimal management practices for different genotypes are required to deliver yield gains.

The special issue outlines research efforts in different regions around the globe and seeks to find commonalities. “It showcases agronomy research from around the world and is a starting point for more concerted efforts at international collaboration to solve common problems in wheat production that exist across the globe,” says Hunt.

The special issue features several international collaborations, including one led by La Trobe PhD candidate David Cann with colleagues from Australia and Washington State University. The article looks to the drylands of the Pacific Northwest United States – the driest wheat growing region in the world – and proposes agronomic principles and practices which could be used to increase wheat yield in semi-arid south eastern Australia with a warming and drying climate.

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