During the 4th ESA-Congress, held in the Netherlands, 7-11 July
1996, a new perspective for agronomy emerged. Various contributions
demonstrate the need for a new role of agronomy and its tools. In
recent decades, agriculture has evolved from an activity with
mainly productivity aims, into an issue conciliating environmental,
agricultural, and economic and social objectives. Placing
agriculture in such a broadened perspective requires a different
agronomy, with new tools and approaches at a range of aggregration
levels. It calls for detailed knowledge concerning the functioning,
productivity and ecological relationships of agricultural plants
and crops. In addition, it calls for a constant update and
synthesis of existing and newly generated knowledge, the design of
new ideotypes and genotypes, new production technologies, cropping
systems, farming systems and agro-ecological land use systems.
This proceedings book presents a set of case studies
illustrating the various agronomic tools that can be used for
specific agronomic questions. The case studies are grouped in
sections illustrating relevant subquestions in developing an
agriculture with broadened objectives. The book starts with an
introductory paper on the role of agronomy in research and
education in Europe. The second section deals with agricultural
land use, food security and environment. This is followed by a set
of papers describing experimental research and modeling approaches
used to design new ideotypes of crops, including physiological
properties in relation to growth factors such as radiation, CO2,
temperature and water.
Sustained soil fertility directly links to nutrient cycling and
soil organic matter. A selected set of papers addresses the
improvements in resource use efficiency and as such their
contribution towards economic, environmental and agricultural
objectives. The final section addresses the design of integrated
and ecological arable farming systems. It highlights the role of
prototyping interaction with leading-edge farmers, as promising
tools to design, implement and test new farming systems.
It is hoped that the activities of the European Society for
Agronomy and the "Proceedings" of its 4th Congress will stimulate
to serve the new perspectives of agronomy, i.e. to adopt ecological
principles, to optimally manage the use of resources and to meet
social and economic objectives.
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