FTE-50806 Conservation Agriculture


Studiepunten 6.00

Group work4
Excursion (one day)8
Independent study0
Course coordinator(s)drs. APHM Janssen
Lecturer(s)ing. DJM van Balen
dr. ir. L Bastiaans
prof. dr. KE Giller
prof. dr. ir. PWG Groot Koerkamp
dr. ir. J Postma
G Bongiorno
drs. APHM Janssen
Examiner(s)prof. dr. ir. PWG Groot Koerkamp

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

This course does not require knowledge from specific courses as a prerequisite to enter. Students from all programs at Wageningen University are welcome to participate in the course. However, basic knowledge on soil and water dynamics, soil chemistry, biology and agronomy is expected. Students should be able to understand and apply basic mathematical equations describing the relations between different parameters.

The course is meant for students in the final year of their BSc phase, but also MSc students with an interest in Conservation Agriculture are welcome to participate. The course is compulsory for the Minor Sustainable Agriculture and Consumption.

Continuation courses:

SOQ-33306 Integrated Natural Resource Management in Organic Agriculture; SOQ-31806 Nutrient Management.


This course explains the concept of Conservation Agriculture (CA) and provides examples of its application around the world. Students are challenged to critically examine the environmental, social and economic effects of application of CA principles in different contexts.

The main aim of Conservation Agriculture is to conserve soil. CA is a system based on integrated management of available soil, water and biological resources, combined with as little external inputs as feasible. CA relies on three principles, which must be considered together for appropriate understanding, design and application:
1. a (semi-)permanent organic soil cover in order to protect the soil physically from sun, rain and wind and to feed the soil biota;
2. minimal disturbance to the soil through no or reduced tillage, and;
3. crop rotations to optimize the use efficiency of natural and external resources.
Additionally, CA emphasizes the use of controlled traffic and precision agriculture technologies to reduce soil disturbance and enhance input use efficiencies.

Course components:

- Concept and history of Conservation Agriculture

- Application of Conservation Agriculture in different contexts;

- Design of systems;

- Crop rotations;

- Soil physical aspects;

- Biological soil quality and ecosystem engineers;

- Soil fertility management;

- Cover crops and crop residues;

- weeds and weed control;

- novel technology and management for different farm types;

- Pest and disease control;

- Climate change mitigation;

- Controversies in CA adoptation.

Learning outcomes:

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

- understand the key principles of conservation agriculture;

- understand the relationship between CA principles and soil properties and ecosystem services;

- apply CA principles in management strategies guided by different scenarios or goals;

- evaluate the feasibility of the CA concept under given agro-ecological, climatic and socio-economic conditions.


- classroom lectures;
- design a location specific conservation agriculture production system;
- practical using computer models;
- debate;
- excursion.


- written exam (closed book) 50%;
- design case work (group work) 50%;
The overall grade must be 5,5 or higher, partial grades must be 5,5 or higher to pass. Partial grades will remain valid for 2 years from the date of examination.

The practical assignments and excursion assignment have to be passed in order to pass the course.


Literature will be provided through Brightspace.

Verplicht voor: WUSACBSc Minor Sustainable Agriculture and Consumption6WD