Growth, Yield and Water Use of Wheat under Elevated Carbon Dioxide

Research on how elevated carbon dioxide will affect the growth and yield of wheat crops under future climates.


Because of uncertainty about the effects of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels on crop growth, water use, grain yield and quality, there is a need to obtain data from field experiments conducted in the Australian grain belt. Read more

Year of initiation:2010
Year of completion:2013


10 Jun 2014

Crop N & P demand under climate change
Summary of the AGFACE project nutrition information

04 Sep 2013

Elevated Carbon Dioxide and Wheat Nutrition
Papers presented at the 2013 IPNC, Turkey and the ANZ Fertilizer Industry Conference

01 Sep 2012

How will climate change affect wheat nutrition in Australian cropping systems
SK Lam, D Chen, R Armstrong and R Norton

Interpretive Summary

Rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration will result in drier and warmer conditions across much of the mid-latitudes, including Australia and New Zealand. Research at the Australian Grains Free Air Carbon Dioxide facility has shown that although wheat yield increased due to improved carbon supply, wheat grain protein, baking quality and important micronutrients such as Zn and Fe all declined.

In 2007, two free air carbon dioxide (CO2) enrichment facilities were established to simulate the future environments under which crops will be grown by raising the CO2 level under otherwise field conditions. Averaged for six seasons, wheat grown under high CO2 saw 15 to 50% increases in yield. This increase occurred irrespective of the sowing time or year, but was strongly influenced by temperature and water supply.

A significant effect of global warming—both as a cause and an effect—is an increase in global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration [CO2]. Elevated [CO2] increases plant growth and yield—termed the “fertilization effect” because in C3 plants photosynthesis is not carbon dioxide saturated.

The Australian Grains Free Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment (AGFACE) project in Horsham, Victoria, was designed to simulate atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the year 2050 and then to use those data to model and predict spring wheat (Triticum aestivum) responses.

While higher CO2 is likely to stimulate plant growth, it seems that the interaction with changing water supply and rising temperatures will largely offset that “fertilizer” effect. To gain an understanding of these interactions, field experiments were conducted from June to December in 2008 at Horsham, Victoria, Australia on a Vertisol used for a range of winter grain crops.

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Updates & Reports


Crop Nutrition Under Future Climates


Growth, yield and photosynthetic responses to elevated CO2 in wheat genotypes


2013 Annual Report


Project Description

FACE Experiment Site, 2008

Project Leader

Glenn Fitzgerald, Victorian Department of Primary Industries

Project Cooperators

Saman Seneweera, The University of Melbourne
Garry O'Leary, Victorian Department of Primary Industries
Sabine Posch, The University of Melbourne
Michael Tausz, The University of Melbourne

IPNI Staff

R. M. Norton


Oceania \ Australia and New Zealand \ AUS \ Victoria


4r rate, greenhouse gases, long-term trials, plant analysis and sampling, plant physiology, yield components


Iron (Fe), Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), Sulfur (S), Zinc (Zn)