Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version



Published in Physiological Aspects of Crop Yield: Proceedings of a symposium sponsored by the University of Nebraska, the American Society of Agronomy, and the Crop Science Society of America, and held at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebr., January 20-24, 1969. Edited by Jerry D. Eastin, F. A. Haskins, C. Y. Sullivan, C. H. M. Van Bavel, and Richard C. Dinauer (Madison, Wisconsin: American Society of Agronomy & Crop Science Society of America, 1969). Copyright © 1969 American Society of Agronomy & Crop Science Society of America. Used by permission.


Human history is a seamless web; every event has its antecedents, its contemporaries, and its consequences. Each event arises out of the past, each is associated with other events at the time, and each leads to new events, in an endless chain. Indeed, there is difficulty in isolating any single event; when did it begin, what are its boundaries, when did it end? These are some of the problems of the social scientist generally, and of the historian in particular.
Nature is equally a seamless web. Every natural process or event has its cause or antecedent, each takes place within a complex matrix or environment, and each leaves its consequences, out of which in time flow other events or processes. As with human history, it is sometimes difficult to define an event or a process in nature--to mark its beginning, its boundaries, its ending. At the least, it is necessary to define and to limit both events and processes, and to put each in a setting- - a chemical reaction at a specified temperature and pressure, in specified concentrations, with stated degrees of impurities present, for instance. Man has established fields of knowledge or professions, such as chemistry, agronomy, genetics, and the like; but nature knows no such categories. Increasingly, we find that the really important and difficult problems lie at the crossroads of two or more of our self-established professions, rarely squarely within anyone field of knowledge.