European wheat farmers regularly harvest 8 t/ha. However, in the ‘Wheatbelt’ of Australia and the northern Great Plains of the USA, which together produce a large proportion of the world’s wheat, average yields are only 1.6 and 3.0  t/ha, respectively. Stresses such as drought and soil salinity are responsible for a large proportion of this yield discrepancy.

How does salinity impact wheat yields?

When native vegetation in semi-arid environments is cleared to make way for annual crops, the water-balance of the field can be disrupted. Over the course of a growing year, an annual agricultural crop uses less water than the perennial vegetation it has replaced. This allows the water table to rise to the soil surface, bringing with it naturally-occurring soil salts which are deposited in the crop’s root zone. The resulting high soil salinity inhibits crop establishment and reduces final yield.

At Plant Impact our Cereals Research Programme is working closely with key research partners such as Lancaster University to better understand the wheat plant’s physiological response to salt-stress. In particular, we are investigating how crop enhancement technologies may mitigate adverse reactions which impact plant germination, establishment and ultimate crop yield.

Grower challenge: the economics of low yield and unpredictable climate stress
Since wheat yields are typically so low in climate and soil-stressed growing regions such as the US plains and Western Australia, crop inputs must be excellent value for money and involve no additional effort for the grower. Our crop enhancement products typically produce an average of 3:1 return on investment for growers, are applied in very low volumes and can be combined with most existing crop treatments and so involve no additional operations on the farm.