Revell Science | Independent Science Consultant

 

meeting the needs of agricultural businesses & the environment

What agriculture can learn from meteorology… and I’m not talking about predicting rain

 

‘Convergence’ : Noun, Meteorology – a net flow of air into a given region

 

Different air masses with different temperatures and moisture contents, in general, do not mix when they run into each other, but instead are separated from each other along boundaries called fronts.

 

We see this general phenomenon occurring in all sorts of other areas well, where different approaches or different ways of thinking tend not to mix. We usually assume there is strength in providing a ‘united front’ or ‘advancing the frontline’.

 

But the convergence of cold, dry air and warm, moist air creates movement and activity.

So as two different perspectives approach each other, we should think less about the ‘front’ itself, which is the area where no mixing occurs, but what the convergence can create.  In agriculture and land management, the convergence of science (and scientists) with practice (and practitioners) is where new ideas will emerge.  We must aim to avoid the ‘cold air of science’ passing below the ‘warm air of practice’ without generating real activity.

I’ve taken a meteorology diagram showing the convergence of cold air with warm air and modified the labels to make it relevant to agriculture or, for that matter, many other areas where we are searching for new ideas and approaches.

Original diagram from http://earthsci.org/flood/J_Flood04/wea1/wea1.html#AirMasses

In meteorological theory, the movement of rising warm air and sinking cold air would form a single cell. But in real life, a single large cell cannot be sustained. Instead smaller cells are formed, with the activity in each cell being influenced by large forces associated with the rotation of the Earth, as well as local features of the land surface.

In agriculture, we see many successful examples where ‘local cells’ are formed, which can ensure that the broad principles of biology and technology are relevant and applicable to local circumstances. Any new ideas, big or small, must ultimately be locally adapted.