Flowers, or plants, that are self-incompatible are unable to pollinate themselves. See also: Self-compatible. Self-organisation

This is a crucially important property of non-linear systems in which the concept of 'organisation' must be elaborated to that of 'self-organisation'. Fritjof Capra (see Appendix) has defined self-organisation as the "spontaneous emergence of new structures and new forms of behaviour in open systems far from equilibrium, characterised by internal feedback loops and described mathematically by non-linear equations".

All living systems are non-linear systems, and have the property of self-organisation, which includes the property of reproduction and self-replication. Life itself is an emergent property of such non-linear systems and so too are all those characteristics of life that used to be called 'vital forces'.

In political terms, self-organisation is democracy, while a denial of self-organisation by an authoritarian government is fascism or dictatorship.

The importance of this phenomenon of self-organisation was first recognised by Adam Smith (1723-1790) in his book

The Wealth of Nations, published in 1776, although Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) was apparently the first to use the term 'self-organisation' Self-organising crop improvement

This concept is closely related to that of the self-organising system of food production. There were no professional plant breeders before 1900, and all crop improvement was undertaken by farmers and amateur breeders . With the re-discovery of Mendel's laws of inheritance, and the consequent emphasis on single-gene characters, plant breeding became difficult, technical, expensive, and professional. The range of cultivar was severely reduced, and farmers were given little choice in the cultivars that they could grow. In a political analogy, this represents dictatorship, in which a single institute can virtually compel a farmer to grow a particular cultivar.

If there were thousands of amateur breeders around the world, usually organised into plant breeding clubs, working with population breeding and horizontal resistance, and each producing cultivars perfectly balanced for their own local agro-ecosystem, crop improvement would become self-organising. In a political analogy, this would represent democracy. It would also produce a wide diversity of cultivars, and it is a fundamental ecological principle that diversity leads to stability. Self-organising system of food production

If we consider the food production of a country, we find a self-organising system. Many farmers, acting individually, choose what crops to grow, and what cultivar of those crops to grow. Their decisions are based mainly on their environment, and on market demand, which comes from the decisions of individual merchants who buy their produce. Systems of transport and food processing convert raw materials into marketable products and retailers make these products available to consumers through stores and super-markets. These consumers choose what they buy, usually on a basis of either cost or quality. The stores prefer to stock items that move the most quickly, according to customer preferences. There must be some government control to ensure purity and hygiene, and to prevent monopolies and cornered markets. But, in general, too much government control is damaging. This was revealed dramatically by the failure of the Soviet system of State-controlled agriculture. Government control must be kept to the essential minimum, and the entire system should be self-

organising. In a political analogy, self-organisation represents democracy, while over-control by a single institute represents dictatorship. Self-pollination

Fertilisation with pollen coming from the same flower, or the same plant. Repeated self-pollination leads to homozygosity, and the formation of a pure lines. Note that cross-pollination within a clones (e.g., potatoes) is equivalent to self-pollination. See also: autogamy, inbreeder, cross-pollination. Self-sown seedlings

In some crops, such as sweet potato, self-sown seedlings can be a useful source of genetic variation, and they can provide material for screening. Self-sterile

See: Self-incompatible. Semi-permeable membrane

A membrane that allows the passage of some (usually small) molecules but not (usually large) others. See also: Osmotic pressure.

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