Plant Physiology and Agriculture

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Barnell, H.R.
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The green plant, directly or indirectly, is the food of man, while agriculture is the industry concerned with the production of food for the world's population. The primary occupation of agriculture is therefore the culture of the plant, the efficiency of the industry depending on raising the maximum amounts of produce without loss of assets in terms of soil or its fertility. In the past, empiricism, or the method of trial-and-error, has resulted in the evolution of methods of plant and land culture which have been "efficient" in the sense of providing a sufficiency to meet the demand made on the produce of the land by its inhabitants. But as this demand increases, or as present systems of production become uneconomic, the old method of seeking to effect improvements in cultivation may not only prove cumbrous, slow and labour-wasting, but may also exercise a restricting influence on the utilization of valuable innovations inherent in scientific discoveries. The view may therefore be advanced that every effort should now, and in the future, be made to approach the problems of agriculture through the medium of fundamental research in plant physiology. In practice the appropriate combination of empirical and fundamental methods is likely to be most productive of useful results
East African Agricultural And Forestry Journal, 5 (No 5), p. 165-169