Since the dawn of domestication, humans are in a continuous quest to learn about phenomenal inputs from nature to produce, store, and process food according to their needs. Careful observation of nature led to a better understanding of natural processes responsible for plant growth, enabling interventions to alter these processes in a more controlled manner. This in-turn gave birth to experimentation in agriculture. Gradually, it was evident that there are many factors influencing plant growth, and it is not always possible to transfer the success story of one season to another, making the addition of time dimension as an important tool. With increasing knowledge, scope of experimentation broadened to cover for the changes that were not possible to observe in short term, i.e., in one or a few cropping seasons. This in-turn contributed to conception of the long-term experiments (LTEs) in agriculture. Besides the time factor, contemporary societal and technological developments are the other important reflections to and of LTEs.
This chapter discusses how LTEs form an important asset in understanding agriculture’s significant influence on life on earth. As global governments and development agencies try to achieve the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, this book’s content is of unprecedented importance, providing insights into the interactions of agricultural production with ecological, economic and societal aspects.