SBL-31806 Nutrient Management

Course

Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Lecture20
Tutorial47
Excursion (one day)4
Course coordinator(s)prof. dr. E Hoffland
M Jaartsveld
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. ir. O Oenema
prof. dr. E Hoffland
dr. ir. JW van Groenigen
Examiner(s)prof. dr. E Hoffland

Language of instruction:

English

Assumed knowledge on:

CSA-20306 Soil-Plant Relations or SOC-21306 Soil Pollution and Soil Protection or SOC-21806 Soil Quality or comparable.

Continuation courses:

MSc thesis MEE, MOA, MPS.

Contents:

Any ecosystem that is managed in order to produce output for human ends, needs nutrient management. This is because nutrient cycles become unbalanced by extraction of products. Nutrient managers must keep nutrient cycles in balance in order to maintain the soil's capacity to supply the nutritional needs of crops and to reduce environmental problems caused by loss of excess nutrients. This course deals with the science behind these goals of nutrient management and the tools that can help achieve these goals. It covers a range of (agro)ecosystems, including low-input tropical systems, organic farming systems, highly productive conventional European systems, and areas designated for nature development. It deals with situations of both limited nutrient availability and excess. The course begins with a brush up and update on nutrient cycles of soils. The major part of the course is dedicated to implementation of current knowledge for tools to achieve sustainable nutrient management, including policy measures to reduce the environmental impact of agriculture. The assignments are preparatory for an MSc thesis. This course is intended for students with an interest in soil science, agronomy, environmental science, organic agriculture, and (tropical) crop science.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- demonstrate knowledge of the key processes in nutrient cycles;
- evaluate the use of stable isotopes in nutrient management research;
- design nutrient balances at farm level;
- understand and be able to use a model to evaluate soil fertility of tropical soils;
- analyse causes of low availability of micronutrients essential for crops and their consumers;
- evaluate the effectiveness of policy measures to reduce the environmental impact of agriculture.

Activities:

Every chapter in the course starts with introductory lectures and continues with assignments that have to be made in small teams. Assignments include
- processing of raw data from a field experiment using 15N as a tracer;
- design nutrient balances at farm level;
- modeling crop responses to fertilizers;
- writing a research proposal;
- complete a scientific paper;
- debate pros and cons of policy measures.

Examination:

The mark for the course will be based on the average of marks for assignments, provided that these are all completed with grade 5.5 or higher. If an assignment is completed with a grade lower than 5.5, this needs to be compensated by an individual written examination on that particular assignment in week 8 of the course. 
Attendance of the excursion and group discussions and availability to work in teams during the entire course is required to pass the course.

Literature:

Lecture notes will be available at the start of the program.

ProgrammePhaseSpecializationPeriod
Restricted Optional for: MOAOrganic AgricultureMScA: Agroecology5AF
MEEEarth and EnvironmentMScD: Soil Geography and Earth Surface Dynamics5AF
MEEEarth and EnvironmentMScC: Biology and Chemistry of Soil and Water5AF
MPSPlant SciencesMScC: Natural Resource Management5AF