Exploiting genotype × management interactions to increase rainfed crop production: A case study from south-eastern Australia

James R Hunt, John A Kirkegaard, Felicity A Harris, Kenton D Porker, Allan R Rattey, Marisa J Collins, Corinne Celestina, David J Cann, Zvi Hochman, Julianne M Lilley, Bonnie M Flohr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Crop yield must increase to keep pace with growing global demand. Past increases in crop production have rarely been attributable to an individual innovation but have occurred when technologies and practices combine to form improved farming systems. Inevitably this has involved synergy between genotypic and management improvements. We argue that research focused on developing synergistic systems that overcome clear production constraints will accelerate increases in yield. This offers the opportunity to better focus and multiply the impact of discipline-focused research. Here we use the rainfed grain production systems of south-eastern Australia as a case study of how transformational change in water productivity can be achieved with research focused on genotype × management synergies. In this region, rainfall is low and variable and has declined since 1990. Despite this, growers have maintained yields by implementing synergistic systems combining innovations in (i) soil water conservation, (ii) crop diversity, (iii) earlier sowing, and (iv) matching nitrogen fertilizer to water-limited demand. Further increases are emerging from synergies between genetic improvements to deliver flowering time stability, adjusted sowing times, and potential dual-purpose use. Collaboration between agronomists, physiologists, and crop breeders has led to development of commercial genotypes with stable flowering time that are in early phases of testing and adoption.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5189-5207
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jun 2021


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