SBL-33306 Functional Agricultural Resource Management

Course

Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Individual Paper1
Lecture16
Practical50
Excursion (one day)13
Course coordinator(s)K ter Horst
dr. ir. GWJ van de Ven
Lecturer(s)MSc A van der Linden
dr. ir. GWJ van de Ven
CJ Timler
MJ Zwetsloot
prof. dr. RE Creamer

Language of instruction:

English

Assumed knowledge on:

Basic knowledge of soil, crop and livestock science is considered assumed knowledge in this course.

Continuation courses:

SBL-51306 The Living Soil; SBL-31806 Nutrient Management; FSE-31806 Agroecology; FSE-30306 Analysis & Design of Organic Farming Systems; PPS-30306 Quantitative Analysis of Land Use Systems

Contents:

Please send all your questions regarding this course to farm.sbl@wur.nl, Gerrie van de Ven and Kasper ter Horst will use this mailbox for the communication regarding this course.
This course aims to give you insights into natural resource management in sustainable (including organic) agriculture through the integration of knowledge about farm components (soils, plants, livestock) and the surrounding landscapes. This course is required for students of the Organic Agriculture master’s program (MOA) at Wageningen University. However, this course is also open to students from a wide variety of study programs. You will get the opportunity to learn and interact with many students from all over the world, supported by a diversity of teachers representing different fields of expertise.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- understand the management of farm components (soil, plant, animal) and natural resources and their integration towards sustainable agricultural systems.
- appreciate the complexity of integrated natural resource management at farm level and beyond, across a broad range of farming systems by simulation of integrated land management.
- examine the reality of applying natural resource management in a Dutch organic farm case study.
- interpret the role of farm system models for evaluating the sustainability of and trade-offs within integrated natural resource management of agricultural systems.
- evaluate data from the farm case studies and develop management recommendations.
- compare farm systems in contrasting socio-ecological contexts on their sustainability by using metrics and indicators on production, nutrients, water and carbon and suggesting improvements.
- appraise options for integrated natural resource management in organic agriculture at farm and landscape scales in a specific regional setting.

Activities:

Self-assessment
At the start of the course you will take a self-assessment, this looks like a multiple choice test and covers the 4 main themes in the course. You will take the self-assessment after the course introduction and correct it yourself. It has no effect on your mark in the course and is meant to give you insights into your understanding of the 4 main themes at the start of the course, Soil, Plant, Livestock and Farm analysis/Modelling. Based on your scores, you will decide how to prioritize your self-study time in week one of the course. All the self-assessment documents and their answers can be found on Blackboard.

Lectures
Lectures will be given on each of the 4 themes of the course. You can find the associated presentation slides, required and supplementary reading material on Blackboard.

Excursion
In week 3 of the course we will visit a local organic dairy farm. The primary learning goal of the excursion is to examine the reality of applying natural resource management in a Dutch organic farm case study. You will do this by assessing the soil quality and conducting an interview with the farmers. This excursion is compulsory because the data collected during the excursion will be used in the modelling exercises. There is no mark given for the excursion, however missing it will result in a penalty on the final mark in the course.

Modelling
The primary learning goals of the modelling exercises in the course are for you i) to be able to interpret the role of farm system models for evaluating the sustainability of and trade-offs within integrated natural resource management of agricultural systems ii) evaluate data from the farm case studies and iii) develop management recommendations. You will use the models FarmDANCES and NUANCES-FarmSIM. You will collect the data needed for the FarmDANCES model during the excursion to the local organic dairy farm. There will be an assignment for both models, both of which will include calculations and reflective questions, which have to be handed in. These assignments together will account for 30% of the final mark in the course. Feedback will be given throughout the group work time, the teachers will be present for the first half of all mornings when you are working on the modelling assignments. The farmers will join us for a reflection and only a few groups will have the opportunity to present their work using FarmDANCES, these presentations/reflection are not included in the course mark.

Case Study
The primary learning goals for the case study are i) to be able to compare farm systems in contrasting socio-ecological contexts on their sustainability by using metrics and indicators on production, nutrients, water and carbon and suggesting improvements and ii) appraise options for integrated natural resource management in organic agriculture at farm and landscape scales in a specific regional setting. You will work in a group and be assigned to a case. Starting from a video of your case you will conduct additional research and develop a conceptual model for sustainability relevant to that particular case. Together with your group, you will present this conceptual model. You will also have to write an individual reflection on the conceptual model which was developed by the group. The presentation and the written reflection together will be 30% of the final mark in the course. Feedback will be given after each presentation and on individual reflection.

Self-study
Time is reserved in the schedule for self-study. The self-study time is meant for reading the articles in the literature section of Blackboard as well as for reviewing your own notes and progress in the course. Depending on your own background knowledge on the themes of the course, it is highly recommended that you also use the self-study time to go through the recommended modules of the MOOC on systems thinking. The link to the MOOC as well as a list of which modules are recommended can be found on Blackboard.

Examination:

- Modelling assignments + reflection (30%);
- Case study group presentation + individual reflection (30%);
- examination (40%);
All components have to be completed with a mark of 5.5 or higher.

ProgrammePhaseSpecializationPeriod
Restricted Optional for: MOAOrganic AgricultureMSc2MO
MOAOrganic AgricultureMScC: Double Degree Agroecology2MO