LPLK10371U Crop Production in a Farming System Perspective

Volume 2014/2015
MSc Programme in Agriculture
This course aims at qualifying MSc students to work with the complex challenges of real-life crop production in a farming system perspective. Students will be given tools and knowledge to analyse key elements in plant production systems, but will also be required to synthesise their own knowledge from courses in underlying disciplines, in order to suggest solutions to the often open-ended problems within crop production.

The course will be divided into three major themes; one is given as fact-based teaching related to key elements in crop production systems, one is given as an introduction to different decisions support systems and individual work with decision support systems, and one is based on a problem-based case with stakeholders.

Key elements in crop production systems:
The course will start with an overview and discussion of key elements in crop production and contemporary trends in crop production systems such as precision agriculture, organic farming and reduced tillage. Quantitative and qualitative aspects of crop yield for food, feed, fibre and fuel production will be introduced in a farming system perspective. The environmental aspects of crop production will be discussed, as will the potential for using modern technology to increase crop production efficiency and sustainability. This theme will be organised around a number of lectures, colloquia and excursions, where differences between crop production systems will be emphasised, e.g. organic vs. conventional, no-till vs. conventional tillage, precision farming vs. conventional (written examination)

Decision Support Systems (DSS) in crop production:
IT and Decision Support Systems (DSS) used e.g. for prediction and modelling have become central tools in management and advisory regarding crop production. In the second theme, students will be introduced to and work with various DSS and models in crop production. Students will be required to evaluate and classify various DSS, reflect about farmers’ and other stakeholders’ decision making, and discuss the barriers for knowledge transfer from science to management and vice-versa. The deliverable for the DSS analysis is a 4-page report, which will form the written part of the course examination.

Students will be introduced to some real-life crop production cases (various farms) and the actors involved (e.g., farmers, advisors, suppliers and buyers of the product). With the help of different DSS the students will first analyse the case systematically, with respect to e.g. productivity, profitability and environmental impacts. Then based on interactions with various stakeholders, the students work out adequate and timely advice on particular crop management problems. The deliverable is a PowerPoint presentation of the farm analysis and a half-page report on advice for farm development/crop management. 
Learning Outcome
The objective of the course is to enable students to work with, analyse and give recommendation about complex, real-life problems within crop production systems.

- Demonstrate overview of components of farming and cropping systems and their interactions.
- Describe the complexity of biological, chemical and physical factors affecting crop production.
- Critically reflect on the environmental impacts of crop production and their mitigation.
- Demonstrate overview of the similarities and differences between various plant production systems (organic, integrated, conventional) and implementation of new technologies (e.g. no-till, precision farming).
- Critically reflect about model-based interventions in management of plant production.

- Analyse crop production systematically, with respect to productivity, profitability and environmental impact.
- Apply up-to-date DSS tools and for strategic planning and management of crop production, including crop rotation, fertilisation, plant protection and postharvest management.

- Provide adequate and timely advice on applied crop management and environmental impacts, promoting good agricultural practice (GAP).
- Reflect about farmers’ and other stakeholders decision making, interactions with DSS and the common gap between theory and practice.
Literature will be made available on course website at least 2 weeks prior to course start. Various DSS software will be made available.
Students are strongly recommended to have least two of the below mentioned prerequisite courses (or similar knowledge), in order to follow the course and achieve course competence goals.
Teaching in the course will be based on a combination of fact based learning, structured by the teachers as a mixture of lectures, colloquia, exercises, and problem based learning, where students will work with a real-life crop production case and the stakeholders involved (e.g., a farmer, a R-and-D group, an agricultural advisory office). The problem based learning part requires students to work independently to solve problems rather than receiving direct instructions on what to do from the teacher or the stakeholders. The course will also include 1-2 full day excursions.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Colloquia
  • 20
  • Excursions
  • 25
  • Lectures
  • 35
  • Preparation
  • 76
  • Project work
  • 50
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Continuous assessment
Combined oral and written exam.
A 20 minutes oral exam (weight 2/3 in the overall grade).
The written DSS report (see above, weight 1/3 in the overall grade).
Both exams must be passed.
If one part of the exam is not passed, re-examination can be made of this part alone.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Exam period
One internal examiner
The reexamination form will be oral.
Criteria for exam assesment

Criteria for evaluation of the DSS deliverable and under "Course content" and "Learning outcome" above.