CSA-10806 Introduction Quantitative Agroecology


Studiepunten 6.00

Group work3
Excursion (one day)4
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. L Bastiaans
Lecturer(s)dr. JB Evers
ing. HCA Rijk
dr. P Reidsma
dr. ir. L Bastiaans
ing. H Drenth
dr. ir. GWJ van de Ven
prof. dr. ir. MK van Ittersum
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 focuses on the relation between crop production and environment and consists of three pillars: a. principles of crop production ecology, b. introduction to modelling and c. sustainability. The first pillar consists of basic knowledge on how a-biotic (e.g. radiation, temperature, nutrients) and biotic (e.g. pests, diseases and weed) factors influence the productivity of crops. In this part, the distinction in potential, water- and nutrient limited and actual production level is presented. The second pillar, the methodological part of the course, is an introduction to the basic principles of modelling. Modelling is a tool that is commonly used to integrate the influence of various environmental factors on key processes of crop production. Case studies on soil organic matter dynamics and crop-weed interaction are used to familiarize with this approach. In the third pillar, sustainability issues of crop production are treated. A comparison is made between the environmental impact of crop production in conventional and biological farming systems and the importance of crop rotation for sustainability is illustrated. Throughout the course, theoretical concepts and methodological issues are linked and applied in exercises, practicals and case studies. In the final week, an visit is made to an organic farm.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
a. 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;
b. Systems analysis and simulation:
- analyse systems in terms of states, rates and driving variables;
- design, construct and apply models for the analysis of simple systems;
- apply and deal with elementary aspects of modelling, such as time coefficient, relational diagram, feedback, analysis of units and numerical integration methods;
- understand the difference between descriptive and mechanistic models;
c. Sustainability:
- 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 strength and weaknesses of crop rotations


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


Written exam with open questions.


A course guide and reader.

Verplicht voor: BPWPlant SciencesBSc5AF