Wheat-pulse Dynamics Under Elevated CO2

Glenn Fitzgerald - Department of Economic Development Jobs Transport and Resources - GRDC

Type: Research Paper
Knowledge level: Advanced

Farm Table says:

How will increased levels of CO2 affect wheat production in Victoria? Have a read of this research that took place in Horsham.

What is the problem?

Rising levels of atmospheric CO2 will dramatically change agricultural productivity and understanding these effects is vital. Crop models that include future temperature and rainfall changes have indicated that by 2050, yields may increase in high-rainfall zones, but decrease in drier areas. This study aimed to investigate the effects of increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations on wheat and field pea production.

What did research involve?

  • AGFACE experiment was built – an outdoor laboratory at Horsham, Vic that seeks to understand the effects of increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations on wheat and field pea crop production under a range of environments.
  • One-year project began an investigation of the agronomy and physiology of a wheat/field pea rotation, including associated belowground processes, which had never been attempted under Australian conditions
  • The FACE methodology allows measurement of crop response to eCO2 under open field conditions free from artifacts of enclosed chambers, such as differences in light, wind, and humidity

What were the key findings?

Economic outcomes:

  • preliminary crop simulation modeling across the landscape has shown that some regions will increase yields by 10-20%, such as the high-rainfall zones in southern Vic, while drier areas, such as the Mallee, may decrease by 10-20%. Protein contents may also decrease more in the Mallee.
  • increased biomass and yields may lead to fertilizer requirements increasing to maintain yields in wetter regions and seasons.

Environmental outcomes:

  • preliminary results suggest that legumes might be able to provide at least some of the increased nitrogen needs of following cereal crops. It is well-established that some added chemical fertilizer is converted to nitrogenous gases.

Social outcomes

  • preliminary results from simulation modeling have shown that yield may increase in higher-rainfall zones.

Final comment

“Results showed that eCO2 increased yields up to 50% across varieties, suggesting there is ample genetic variation to breed varieties that flourish under eCO2. “

2016 - Australia - Glenn Fitzgerald - Department of Economic Development Jobs Transport and Resources - GRDC
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