Holistic Science

Agrometeorology is an interdisciplinary science in which the main scientific disciplines involved are atmospheric sciences and soil sciences, which are concerned with the physical environment, and plant sciences and animal sciences (including their pathology, entomology, and parasitology, etc.), which deal with the contents of the biosphere.

The interdisciplinary nature of agrometeorology is both its greatest strength and its greatest weakness (Hollinger, 1994). The strength is ob tained from an agricultural meteorologist's understanding of the interactions of physical and biological worlds. The weakness is due to the political reality that agricultural meteorology is not fully appreciated by the more traditional practitioners of the physical and biological sciences. Current academic structures do not foster interactions between biological and physical scientists. As a result, neither group fully understands the other, leading to the mistrust of each other's scientific methods. The perspective of agro-meteorology is more holistic than that of the climatology or biology disciplines (Hatfield, 1994). An agrometeorologist is fluent in both the biological and physical sciences and looks at the world from a different and wider perspective than the physical or biological scientist does.

Though interdisciplinary in nature, agrometeorology is a well-defined science. It has a set approach in theory and methodology. Its subject matter links together the physical environment and biological responses under natural conditions. An agrometeorologist applies every relevant meteorological skill to help farmers make the most efficient use of their physical environment in order to improve agricultural production both in quality and quantity and to maintain the sustainability of their land and resources (Bourke, 1968). Using a four-stage approach, an agrometeorologist first formulates an accurate description of the physical environment and biological responses. At the second stage, he or she interprets biological responses in terms of the physical environment. Third, he or she makes agrometeoro-logical forecasts. The final goal is to develop agrometeorological services, strategies, and support systems for on-farm strategic and tactical decisions and to implement them in collaboration with specialists in agriculture, livestock, and forestry.

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