Skip to main content


NES8103 : Assessing Agricultural Production Systems

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Dave George
  • Lecturer: Dr Hannah Davis, Dr Ankush Prashar, Professor Neil Boonham, Mr James Standen
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


The overall aim of this module is to provide the knowledge and skills required to assess and appraise
agricultural management in practice, with particular emphasis on evaluating 'sustainable' production
Utilising pre-existing research and commercial platforms at NU Farms, students will investigate and
appraise crop, livestock and soil systems, considering how aspects of precision agricultural
technology can be used to inform assessments and practices.
The module will investigate the impact of farming systems on crop/animal performance and
environmental and welfare gains.

Outline Of Syllabus

1. An overview of rotational design and soil management, and of livestock production
2. General field experiment design and data gathering.
3. Crop and livestock sampling techniques.
4. Soil sampling and processing techniques.
5. Overviews of different management systems in situ at NU Farms related to arable crops and
6. The role of Precision Agricultural Technology and agri-technology in supporting on-farm
assessments and practices.
7. Data analysis and reporting

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00Report preparation – research, reading, formulation, writing.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion16:006:00Presentation Preparation
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture182:0036:00Lectures on core module material by teaching staff and visiting speakers
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion10:300:30Completion of oral presentation
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading182:0036:00Writing up lecture notes and consolidation of learning
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching82:0016:00Student led seminar presentations / discussions based on oral presentations
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork56:0030:00Field visits and seminar presentations at local organic arable and livestock producers
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study130:0030:00Student research of materials beyond taught content
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study115:3015:30Write up of visit and practical notes and consolidation of learning
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

• Lectures deliver the basic knowledge needed by students to understand the principles underlying the livestock
and cropping systems utilized in the module.
• Small group activities (i.e. field sampling) provides an opportunity for students to extend and critically
assess lecture and published material and information acquired through their own reading, with information
presented by student groups, and to develop and practice key skills such as team-work, communication and
presentation, questioning leading practitioners and experts and information technology applications.
• Fieldwork and planned field trips will be a demonstration of current practice and involve discussion of
pragmatic solutions to commercial problems.
• The interactive learning environment Canvas will be used to encourage discussion among the students and with
the lecturer. Canvas will also be used to provide links to supplementary material that will enhance the
students’ understanding of the course material.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Presentation302M20Assessed group presentation on allocated topic regarding sustainable production systems
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report2M80Individual report on a scenario based problem involving qualified decision making (max. 4000 words)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The module investigates a range of agronomic sub-systems (livestock production, arable crop production, soils, precision agriculture, and the interaction between) within the complex of overall, integrated management systems.
The assessed oral presentation and report are appropriate ways of assessing the students’ combination of
knowledge and understanding acquired over the programme of lectures, practicals, fieldwork and visits. These are
designed to assist, enhance and promote the learning experience and develop key skills in an integrative/holistic rather than compartmentalised manner, by focusing learning around hands-on activities undertaken in 'real world' test platforms at NU Farms.
The students are permitted to frame the circumstance of their report in accordance with their intended progression - many of the candidates intending to apply their learning in practice post gradation. The scenarios are applicable to the students’ ambition, which are geographically diverse.
The presentation is the opportunity for the students to justify the content of their proposals in an interactive
conference. The presentations take place in advance of the report submission and as a consequence are a live test of the reasoning in the report, the audience being invited to query the cognitive and pragmatic aspects of the proposal that will cause the presenters to consider their rational.

Reading Lists