CSA-10306 Cropping Systems and Knowledge of Crops


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Group work5
Excursion (one day)8
Independent study
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. WJM Lommen
Lecturer(s)HD Halm
dr. ir. WJM Lommen
ing. HCA Rijk
drs. CA Langeveld
dr. ing. A van Ast
dr. SM Driever
Examiner(s)dr. ir. WJM Lommen

Language of instruction:



World-wide, a huge variety of crops is grown in different agro-ecosystems to provide man with food and other agricultural products. Different cultivation techniques applied by farmers lead to an even wider variety in cropping systems. This introductory course covers the morphology and the basic processes determining growth of crops and their products, the most important ecological relations in agro-ecosystems and effects of external factors on these relations, and the diversity in cropping systems.
Students learn to use this knowledge for recognising the most important crop species and raw crop products, for understanding and quantifying how external factors and different cropping systems affect crop production and other processes in agro-ecosystems, and for analysing and understanding how very diverse factors affect the development and status-quo of important cropping systems. The course is suitable for students with only limited biological knowledge.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- name common crop and grassland plants and/or their harvested parts by their common name and genus, and describe their use, crop type and climate zone;
- identify a selection of the most important crop and grassland species and their products by using vegetative, generative and other characteristics and by applying biological knowledge, and describe their value for use, quality characteristics, product type, reproduction characteristics and cultivation characteristics;
- describe and use important terms and parameters in the field of study and name the approximate value of the parameters;
- describe which ecological processes play an important role in the functioning of agro-ecosystems, and which factors determine the diversity in cropping systems in different climate zones;
- explain how radiation, water, temperature, soil and crop affect different ecological processes in agro-ecosystems at different integration levels;
- apply the obtained knowledge to quantify the functional relationships in agro-ecosystems, especially with regard to external factors and nutrient cycles; and to analyse cropping systems.


- a practical treats applied taxonomy, spread of crops, biodiversity, generative and vegetative recognition of crops and the most important crops according to a taxonomical classification and a classification according to use. Students practice in recognition of these crops by means of living plant material, crop products and computer. In addition, some small experiments are carried out;
- lectures treat food production and agriculture world-wide, principles of growth and development of different crop types, ecological relations in agro-ecosystems in different climates - especially interactions between soil, plant and atmosphere -, and factors determining the variety in cropping systems;
- work sessions and computer practicals train students in quantifying effects of external factors on crop production and on changes in processes within different cropping systems;
- an excursion helps in gaining the required knowledge on cropping systems;
- students analyse a cropping system of their choice.


- written exam with open and multiple choice questions (45%);
- written (40%) and computer (5%) plant recognition test;
- group-report (5%) and -presentation (5%) on cropping system;
- group report on one of the excursion topics;
- individual assignment on nutrient balance calculation.
The written exam and the plant recognition test each need a mark of 5.00 minimum; their average should be 5.50 minimum. The excursion report and nutrient balance assignment should be adequate.


A set containing: lecture syllabus, practical handbook, two workbooks and an excursion guide can be obained from the WURshop.
Study guide and other course material are available on Black Board.

Compulsory for: BILInternational Land and Water ManagementBSc6WD