The irrigated rice-wheat cropping system is the predominant and most profitable farming system in north-west India, especially in Punjab. However, there are growing concerns about the environmental effects of the system, particularly with the practice of burning rice stubbles, due to its adverse effects on human health and air pollution. In this paper we consider the wide array of policy settings that tend to favour current land uses and management practices and their impact on the farming system over time. As part of an ACIAR-funded project, we assess the significance of these policies with a view to considering what additional or alternative policies could be put in place to encourage the adoption of approaches or technologies directly concerned with reducing the practice of stubble burning. We conclude that many of these policy settings limit the gains from technology adoption and might be better addressed prior to considering policies aimed at specific technological solutions.