An agricultural experiment is usually associated with a scientific method for testing certain agricultural phenomena. A central point in the work of Paul Richards is that experimentation is at the heart of agricultural practice. The reason why agricultural experiments are something different for farmers and agronomists is not their capacity to experiment as such but the embedding of experiments in a specific ecological, material and institutional environment. Using a historical perspective, changes are examined in the organization of agricultural experiments focusing on the Netherlands and colonial Indonesia during the first half of the 20th century and the international agricultural research institutes for the period thereafter. The results show a gradual shift in the role of experiments in the connection between science and practice. Initially, the link was considered to be established through various forms of experiments, rooted in an integrated social and technical understanding of agronomy. Gradually, this turned into a connection primarily established through various forms of communication. Recent work of Richards incorporates ideas that address key issues emerging from the history of agricultural experiments, dealing with an integrated social and technical understanding of agriculture. © 2010 Royal Netherlands Society for Agricultural Sciences.
Maat, H. (2011). The history and future of agricultural experiments. NJAS - Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences, 57(3–4), 187–195. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.njas.2010.11.001