FSE-31806 Agroecology


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Field practical38
Group work3
Excursion (one day)12
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. FJJA Bianchi
Lecturer(s)dr. ir. WAH Rossing
prof. dr. KE Giller
dr. JAB Duncan
dr. ir. W van der Werf
prof. dr. NPR Anten
dr. ir. FJJA Bianchi
dr. ir. JCJ Groot
dr. ir. EN Speelman
Examiner(s)dr. ir. WAH Rossing

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

Basic agronomy and crop ecology.


Agroecology is the scientific discipline that supports the design of sustainable agroecosystems. Agroecology encompasses both ecological and social dimensions, and considers their interaction across scales. The ultimate goal of this course is to train a new generation of agricultural ecologists able integrate disciplines to inform the design and implementation of agroecological innovations at the scales of field to landscape, and as part of sustainable food systems. The course will offer the scientific knowledge bases to achieve that through six complementary modules: (1) Properties, analysis and design of agroecosystems; (2) Structure and diversity in/of agroecosystems; (3) Social dimension of agroecology; (4) Flows and cycles in agroecosystems; (5) Agroecology and the landscape; (6) Agroecology, food and nutritional security. The course is built following systems thinking and theory, so that the role of human agency is seen as operating through the design of structures (abiotic, biotic, social diversity and their organisation) to achieve desirable functions (resource capture, productivity, recycling, ecological regulation, nutrition, governance). Grades are assigned on the combined marking of an individual exam, results of computer practicals and collective marking of a group research project (presentation and report).

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- understand the diversity of agroecological systems in terms of scales, dimensions, diversity and value systems;
- evaluate (quali- & quantitatively) the diversity in structure and function of agroecosystems;
- analyse stakeholder roles and relevance in agroecological innovation;
- evaluate dynamics & complexity of agro-ecological interactions;
- integrate & synthesise knowledge to inform the design of sustainable food systems.


- The lectures will be based on both theory and practice, notably through the use of models, problem solving, role play and learning games. - Example case study agroecosystems will be analysed to learn the basic principles of the methods that are deployed in the field at Droevendaal experimental farm.


Grades are assigned on:
- an individual exam (70%);
- a group research report (30%).


The course will be taught using the book 'Gliessman, S.R. 2015. Agroecology: the Ecology of Sustainable Food Systems. Third edition, CRC press'. Students have to obtain the book before the start of the course.

Restricted Optional for: MOAOrganic AgricultureMScC: Double Degree Agroecology6WD
MOAOrganic AgricultureMScA: Agroecology6WD
MPSPlant SciencesMScA: Crop Science6WD
MPSPlant SciencesMScC: Natural Resource Management6WD