WISH-ROOTS registered title
Tuning the wheat root microbiome to improve soil health and optimize rhizosphere nitrogen cycling and availability.

Importance of wheat

Wheat is the second most important cereal crop, following maize in South Africa. Globally, wheat is cultivated on approximately 220 million hectares of agricultural soil and South Africa constitutes approximately 533 000 hectares of this total. To ensure that the global calorie requirement is met, wheat production is required to increase by 11% until 2026, with a mere 1.8% increase in cultivated land.

Experimemtal farm-wishroots.pngWhy is wheat important in soil health?

Wheat helps increase soil biological life through root exudates, thereby improving soil aggregation, stability and water infiltration to reduce rapid drainage and runoff. Hence, optimization of wheat cultivation, in a sustainable manner, is mandatory.

What do we want to achieve?

The main aim of the project is to restore and preserve soil health through wheat root traits. This will be achieved by evaluating the effect of different bread and durum wheat cultivars on microbiome dynamics and nitrogen cycling in field trials. These objectives will provide advantageous varieties for farmers that support a more sustainable use of land, improving soil microbial biodiversity, nutrient cycling and soil structure.

Experimental farm for wheat field trials.

Who is involved?

The Agricultural Research Council (ARC) is part of a research consortium in collaboration with partners in the United Kingdom, Italy, China, Germany, Belgium and Spain to collectively work on the recently awarded WISH-ROOTS project. The WISH-ROOTS project is funded by the European Joint Programme Soil ERA-NET (HORIZON 2020) and the New Zealand Government to support the objectives of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases for soil health restoration.


Research consortium,

For more research consortium details: ​

Partners and st​akeholders involved.



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