ACE8115 : Ecological and Sustainable Agricultural Production systems

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The overall aim of this module is to provide the knowledge and skills required to apply the principles of ecological agricultural management in practice.

Students will investigate and appraise sustainable Animal breeding and husbandry and the production and management of major crops

Contemporary commercial systems of ecological agricultural production and the science that underpins them and/or challenges their principles and production standards will be integrated into the development of an understanding of reasons for and development of sustainable crop and livestock production.

The module will also require students investigate the impact of farming systems on food quality and safety.

Outline Of Syllabus

1.       An overview of rotational design and fertility management, and of organic or ecological livestock production
2.       Crop protection, breeding and varieties.
3.       Livestock genetics, breeding & reproduction
4.       Grass and forage production & principles of animal nutrition
5.       Animal behaviour and welfare & principles of animal health
6.       Major cereal (wheat, barley) production, minor cereal (spelt, rye, oats) production.
7.       Dairy (cattle), Beef, Sheep (meat and dairy), Pig and Poultry production systems.
8.       Grain legume, potato and root crop production
9.       Precision farming and alternative enterprises
10.       Environmental implication of crop & livestock production

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture182:0036:00Lectures on core module material by teaching staff and visiting speakers
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00Report preparation – research, reading, formulation, writing.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion16:006:00Presentation Preparation
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 employed in ecological farming and food production systems.
•       Small group teaching 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 invited speakers and 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.
•       Field trips will be a demonstration of current practice and involve discussion of pragmatic solutions to commercial problems.
•       The interactive learning environment Blackboard will be used to encourage discussion among the students and with the lecturer. Blackboard 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 presentation on allocated topic regarding ecological production systems
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report2M80A scenario based problem involving qualified decision making (max. 4000 words)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

As the module investigates a range of agronomic sub-systems (livestock production, arable crop production and the interaction between) within a complex overall, integrated management system, the assessed oral presentation and report are appropriate ways of assessing the students’ combination of knowledge and understanding acquired over the programme of lectures, seminars and visits. They are designed to assist, enhance and promote the learning experience and develop key skills in an integrative/holistic rather than compartmentalised manner, by providing a realistic problem solving scenario involving a number of contributors that needs to be completed under time constraint as in practical, commercial and research situations.

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 scenario 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