Agroecosystems Processes

  • David C. Coleman
  • Paul F. Hendrix
Conference paper
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 67)


Modern agriculture has evolved from a long tradition of basic and applied research in a variety of disciplines, including agronomy, botany, zoology, soil science, climatology, chemistry, economics, engineering, and many others. Indeed, agricultural problems have been crucibles for theoretical developments in many of these disciplines. The science of ecology is no exception, having benefited from and contributed to agricultural theory and practice. Liebig’s observation in 1840 that crop growth is limited by the nutrient element in shortest supply relative to demand became a cornerstone in modern ecology, known as the Law of the Minimum (Odum 1983). On the other hand, the widely used practice of integrated pest management, which combines chemical and biological controls, was developed from a knowledge of predator-prey interactions, which are central issues in population ecology (Flint and van den Bosch 1981). Thus, the roots of agriculture and ecology are deeply intertwined historically and, in fact, are older than either discipline as formal bodies of knowledge. When humans first cultivated plants and domesticated animals, they were building on at least a rudimentary understanding of interactions between living organisms and their environment. The extent of this understanding and the success of early agriculture were undoubtedly limited, but as understanding increased so did agricultural productivity.


Microbial Biomass Gross Primary Production Conventional Tillage Conservation Tillage Cropland Area 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • David C. Coleman
  • Paul F. Hendrix

There are no affiliations available

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