NPLK14020U Sustainable Agricultural Development Pathways

Volume 2014/2015
MSc Programme in Agricultural Development
MSc Programme in Agris Mundus

The course addresses the challenge of increasing food production in developing countries, while conserving the key natural resources. In short, we need to double the food production over the next 40 years, but without increasing water, nutrient and land consumption proportionally, and with lower greenhouse gas emissions.
The course addresses key resource constraints in a constructive, non-dogmatic and case-specific way. In 5 topical sessions, the course investigates Water use; Nutrients and soil quality; Breeding and GMO's; Pest and weed management; and Climate smart agriculture.
In each session, the mechanistic basis is presented, in order to understand and evaluate potential and constraints for increasing food production while conserving resources. The mechanistic base in then applied at farming system level in a series of case-specific scenarios, under varying soil, climate and socioeconomic conditions. Trade-offs and interrelationships are emphasized at the farming system level.
The course will qualify students to discuss sustainable development pathways, with a mechanistic understanding of biological and chemical processes, but applied to farming system level. The course emphasizes the diversity of farming systems, climatic and market conditions, and hence relevance of various solutions.
Students will write one individual assignment during the course, which forms 33% of the final mark.

Learning Outcome

Knowledge of main arguments for or against agronomic development paradigms (GMO, Agro-ecology, Organic etc).
Overview of main constraints for agronomic development and yield gaps globally
Overview of resource availability (water, nutrient, land) globally and cost of access.

Mechanistic understanding of factors which control water and nutrient use efficiency in crops.
Understanding of plant beeding potential for tropical crop production with and without GMO's.
Ability to analyse trade-offs between selected agricultural interventions, yield benefits, environmental benefits and labour consumption.
Ability to evaluate carbon mitigation potential of selected farming systems

Ability to discuss relevance of various agricultural development interventions under a variety of climatic, edaphic and socioeconomic conditions.
Ability to analyse farming systems agronomically
Ability to make recommendations for sustainable agricultural development pathways for specific system types

Scientific papers

Tropical Crop Production recommended prerequistite course
BSc level in agriculture, biology, geography or similar. Fundamental plant/crop science background recommended.
Lectures, Exercises, Individual and group asignments on exploring and presenting pre-defined cases.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Exam
  • 4
  • Guidance
  • 12
  • Lectures
  • 54
  • Preparation
  • 48
  • Project work
  • 30
  • Seminar
  • 8
  • Theory exercises
  • 50
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Written examination, 4 timer under invigilation
One individual written assignment during the course on a topic within the course frame.
4 hour written exam with calculations, designs, concept development, analysis and discussion.
Examination: The written assignments accounts for 30% and the written exam for 70% of the given grade
Exam registration requirements
Participation in 5 mandatory exercises during course.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
The assignment is evaluated by course staff
Exam period
The assignment is submitted in week 7 of the course
Criteria for exam assesment

Assignment is evaluated based on the following criteria:
Level of academic detail and mechanistic understanding of selected processes
Ability to discuss specific mechanisms in relevant context of chosen farming systems
Ability to reflect on barriers for implementation and applied perspectives for food production.

Ability to answer the questions and complete the calculations in the written exam.