CSA-10806 Introduction Quantitative Agroecology


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Group work3
Excursion (one day)4
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. L Bastiaans
Lecturer(s)ing. H Drenth
dr. ir. GWJ van de Ven
ing. HCA Rijk
dr. P Reidsma
prof. dr. ir. MK van Ittersum
dr. ir. L Bastiaans
Examiner(s)dr. ir. L Bastiaans

Language of instruction:


Continuation courses:

NEM-10806 Orientation Plant Sciences II; CSA-20806 Population and Systems Ecology; PPS-20306 System Analysis, Simulation and Systems Management.


The course provides an introduction on how ecological factors determine the productivity of a crop and on how models can be used to integrate and quantify the influence of the environment on crop production. The course is structured around three levels of crop production (potential, water- and nutrient limited and actual) and deals with both a-biotic and biotic production constraints. The methodological part of the course consists of an introduction to the basic principles of modelling. Modelling as a tool for the integration of key processes in production ecology is exemplified with case studies on soil organic matter dynamics and crop-weed interaction. Next to the focus on crop production, sustainability aspects of farming systems are treated. For this, the environmental impact of crop production in conventional and biological farming systems is compared and the importance of crop rotation for sustainability is elucidated. Throughout the course, theoretical concepts and methodological issues are linked and applied in exercises, practicals and case studies. In the final week an organic farm will be visited.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:

Crop Production Ecology
- explain how radiation, temperature and crop characteristics determine the potential growth, development and production of crops in agro-ecosystems;
- explain how a-biotic (water and nutrients) and biotic (pest, diseases and weeds) production constraints interfere with potential crop production;
- understand the basic principles of the ecology and biology of weeds;

- quantify the yield reduction of a crop following from competition of weeds;
Systems analysis and simulation:

- learn how to apply elementary concepts such as feedback, time coefficient, relational diagram, analysis of units and numerical integration methods, following the conventions of the systems analysis approach;
- analyse systems in terms of states, rates and driving variables;
- design, construct and apply models for the analysis of simple systems;

- understand the difference between descriptive and mechanistic models;

- analyse relevant sustainability issues of cropping and farming systems;

- explain which physical, biological, economic and social factors co-determine actual cropping systems and their dynamics;
- analyse the stength and weaknesses of crop rotations regarding different objectives


- lectures;
- excursion;
- practicals and problem-based learning.


Written exam with open questions.


A course guide and reader.

Compulsory for: BPWPlant SciencesBSc5AF