In this major new work, Lloyd Evans provides an integrated view of the domestication, adaptation and improvement of crop plants, bringing together genetic diversity, plant breeding, physiology and aspects of agronomy. Considerations of yield and maximum yield provide continuity throughout the book. Food, feed, fibre, fuel and pharmaceutical crops are all discussed. Cereals, grain legumes and root crops, both temperate and tropical, provide many of the examples, but pasture plants, oilseeds, leafy crops, fruit trees and others are also considered. After the introductory chapter, the increasing significance of crop yields to the world's food supply is highlighted. The next three chapters consider changes to crop plants over the last ten thousand years, including domestication, adaptation and improvement. These are treated at length because their nature is often misunderstood, yet has important implications for the relation between plant breeding and agronomy, for development policy and for environmental management. The crucial roles of input innovation and synergism are illustrated, along with examples of how diminishing returns to input energy have been avoided.
The final chapter hazards some guesses about the way in which agriculture may be transformed over the next fifty years. Aimed at research workers and advanced students in crop physiology and ecology, agronomy and plant breeding, this book also reaches conclusions of relevance to those concerned with developmental policy, agricultural research and management, environmental quality, resource depletion and human history.
'... an important contribution to our understanding of both developed and third world agricultural systems and to logical assessment of the future direction required for development planning and research in this field ... the book is relaxed reading ... accompanying graphs and diagrams greatly enhance the text and some are quite fascinating!' P. Tuley, Tropical Agriculture Association UK Newsletter 'Professor Evans has presented in this extraordinaty book an excellent synthesis of the subject ... The availability of a paperback edition within three years of its first publication, should ensure its use by ecologists, plant physiologists, and agricultural scientists in all developing countries.' J. P. S. Chauhan, International Journal of Ecology and Environmental Sciences '... impressive volume.' Jim Dunwell, Chemistry and Industry