Chickpea production in marginal (<600 mm annual rainfall) areas of the northern cropping region in eastern Australia is considered to be constrained by low rainfall, soils with low plant available water capacity (PAWC), subsoil salinity, low plant stature and poor fruit set. This study examines these constraints to assess the magnitude of their impact and if agronomic practices can improve potential production. Over three years a total of 42 commercial chickpea crops were monitored following a participatory action research approach focusing on perceived production constraints. Subsoil salinity significantly reduced PAWC for chickpea compared to wheat. However, PAWC for chickpeas from the majority of sites monitored was comparable to other areas. The supply of water between flowering and maturity was significantly related to yield. The agronomic practice of levelling following deep planting improved the lowest pod height by 10 cm and plant stresses experienced during flowering caused a 50 % loss of potential fruit. Constraints impacting on the supply and storage of soil water could be minimized by selecting paddocks with low chloride levels in the upper layers and sowing crops when the available soil water is greater than 100 mm. Reducing fruit loss at flowering has the potential to improve yields significantly. The mechanisms behind this loss were not identified but are worthy of further research.