Improvements in grain yield can be generated by increasing yield potential and stability through several options, including genetics of new varieties, and by implementing improved practices that allow more of that yield potential to be realised (closing the yield gap).
The impact of RD&E investment in genetic technologies on grain yield potential and stability can be assessed through improvements in the performance of crop varieties as measured in National Variety Trials (NVT). The NVT data set now comprises one of the most comprehensive measures of variety performance in the world.
Measurements of actual grain yield compared with current potential grain yield (the yield gap) will require more complex assessment. CSIRO, supported by the GRDC, has been undertaking regional assessments of the current yield gap. While the approaches to closing the yield gap will differ across regions and farm types, and especially need to take into account risk, a 20% closure of the current gap would generate in excess of $3.8 billion per annum across the grains industry.
The impact of RD&E investment in meeting the objective of improving yield will be measured in terms of:
- minimum yield increases equivalent to 1% per annum for cereals, 2% per annum for pulses and 1.5% per annum for oilseeds, achieved while identifying and investing in technology for transformational improvement in yield potential and yield stability
- minimum 20% closure of the gap between potential and actual yields over five years.