There’s a shortlist of very big ideas that encroach on many different disciplines at once – economics, politics, law, science, morality, and of course farming practice. They include matters such as yield – how much of any one crop or animal do we really need? Are present shortfalls caused primarily – or ever – simply by lack of yield, or inability to yield? Crucial too is the ever-present concept of “efficiency”. What does it mean in practice – energy in versus food energy out? Money in versus money out? Or again, much hangs on the distinction between traditional farm practice and industrial farming – but what really are the differences? What can the know-how acquired through industrial farming contribute to Enlightened Agriculture? Is it plausible that the forays into industrialized methods these past 150 years have simply been a diversion? What exactly is “agroecology”? And so on.
We have lumped such issues together under “fundamentals” simply because there is no particular niche that can properly contain them. As always, we will urge specialists to write for us and also encourage everyone else to contribute.