EPAR Research Brief #212
Tue, 03/05/2013
Caitlin McKee
Daniel Jones
Alexander Chew
Travis Reynolds
Alison Cullen
C. Leigh Anderson

This literature review examines the environmental constraints to, and impacts of, wheat production systems in South Asia (SA) and Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The review highlights crop-environment interactions at three stages of the wheat value chain: pre-production (e.g., land availability), production (e.g., heat, water, and soil), and post-production (e.g. storage, crop residues, and transport). At each stage we emphasize environmental constraints on production (e.g., poor soil quality, water scarcity, crop pests, etc.) and also environmental impacts of crop production (e.g., soil degradation, water depletion and pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, etc.). We then highlight published best practices for overcoming environmental constraints and minimizing environmental impacts in wheat production systems. We find that wheat is a significant crop that will need to increase production to meet increasing demand. Most land suitable for wheat production is already under cultivation. Improved production methods are needed to address the demand and avert environmental impacts of producing wheat.  It should not be assumed that improved varieties alone will be able to realistically address growing demands for wheat. Improved variety seeds should be combined with best practices of improved crop management techniques: optimal planting time, zero tillage, fertilizer management, intercropping, crop residue incorporation, and improved storage techniques.


This review is one in a series that examines crop-environment interactions drawing on both the academic literature and the field expertise of crop scientists. Other briefs in this series include:

Type of Research: 
Literature Review
Research Topic Category: 
Sustainable Agriculture & Rural Livelihoods
Agricultural Productivity, Yield, & Constraints
Environment & Climate Change
Geographic focus: 
South Asia Region and Selected Countries
Sub-Saharan Africa

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