The concept of the sustainable development of agricultural production marked the beginning of a new era in agriculture worldwide. The term sustainability was first interpreted primarily as the sustainability of the environment, due to the ever more serious problems experienced in this connection on a global scale. In searching for a solution, however, focus shifted to a complex approach to sustainable development. It became clear that in addition to the sustainability of the environment, a long-term solution could only be achieved if economic and social sustainability was also ensured. This is particularly true of agriculture, since the existing problems cannot be solved purely on the basis of environmental considerations. Only the comprehensive handling of ecological, economic and social challenges can produce a satisfactory answer to the questions involved in sustainable development. This will necessarily mean a change in the tasks facing agriculture, which will be responsible for more numerous, more varied functions than previously. If these new tasks are to be successfully performed, new technological systems will need to be elaborated, requiring an acceleration of research and development throughout the world.
The importance and necessity of long-term field experiments lie in the fact that long-term effects can only be studied reliably over several decades. The agronomic advances made in recent decades, based on chemicals and genetic gains, can be measured using long-term data, which will also be important in the future. Nutrient balances can be estimated reliably from the results of these experiments. The effect of climate change can be estimated by comparing long-term data from different locations. Long-term databases also form the background for computer models, designed to promote the sustainable development of agriculture and the environment.
Gemedo Dalle, J. Isselstein and B. Maass. (in press) Indigenous ecological knowledge of Borana pastoralists in southern Ethiopia and current challenges. The International Journal of SustainableDevelopment and