The role of management in yield improvement of the wheat crop-a review with special emphasis on Western Australia

Walter Anderson, M.A. Hamza, D.L. Sharma, M.F.D. D'Antuono, F.C. Hoyle, N. Hill, B.J. Shackley, M. Amjad, C. Zaicou-Kunesch

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    56 Citations (Scopus)


    Modern bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) has been well adapted for survival and production in water-limited environments since it was first domesticated in the Mediterranean basin at least 8000 years ago. Adaptation to various environments has been assisted through selection and cross-breeding for traits that contribute to high and stable yield since that time. Improvements in crop management aimed at improving yield and grain quality probably developed more slowly but the rate of change has accelerated in recent decades. Many studies have shown that the contribution to increased yield from improved management has been about double that from breeding. Both processes have proceeded in parallel, although possibly at different rates in some periods, and positive interactions between breeding and management have been responsible for greater improvements than by either process alone.In southern Australia, management of the wheat crop has focused on improvement of yield and grain quality over the last century. Adaptation has come to be equated with profitability and, recently, with long-term economic and biological viability of the production system. Early emphases on water conservation through the use of bare fallow, crop nutrition through the use of fertilisers, crop rotation with legumes, and mechanisation, have been replaced by, or supplemented with, extensive use of herbicides for weed management, reduced tillage, earlier sowing, retention of crop residues, and the use of 'break' crops, largely for management of root diseases.Yields from rainfed wheat crops in Western Australia have doubled since the late 1980s and water-use efficiency has also doubled. The percentage of the crop in Western Australia that qualifies for premium payments for quality has increased 3-4 fold since 1990. Both these trends have been underpinned by the gradual elimination or management of the factors that have been identified as limiting grain yield, grain quality, or long-term viability of the cropping system.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1137-1149
    Journal Australian Journal of Agricultural Research
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


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