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ACE3087 : Site Specific Crop Management in Arable UK Production Systems

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Ankush Prashar
  • Demonstrator: Professor Neil Boonham
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Mixed Location
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


• Instil an understanding of the main principles underlying the technologies and methodologies being used in Precision Farming (PF) in arable crops, and the limitations and opportunities associated with different technologies and methodologies
• Develop analytical skills for PF data sets
• Provide examples of the application and fusion of different PF technologies and methodologies into general on-farm management
• Promote decision-making processes and problem-solving skills in on-farm situations with PF

Outline Of Syllabus

General Introduction and Overview

Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS)
• Covering different systems, GPS operation segments
• GNSS application and benefits in PA, map projections and input applications.
• Planned system development

Spatial and Temporal Variability
• Understanding of Yield variability with respect to Spatial and Temporal variation and its link with different
crop and cropping attributes
• Descriptors used for measuring variability
• Concepts of annual and long term variation
• Concept of a range in variability across farms and regions - impact of rotations and potential use of
normalisation of data
• Types of measurement systems/operation, techniques and technology Convolution issues and System calibration
• Concept of a range in variability across farms and regions

Soil measurement techniques and Soil Variability
• Key soil attributes important to yield and influence of variability in soil properties on crops
• Concept of a range in variability across farms and regions
• Measurement options for key soil attributes, range of tools and techniques adopted for measuring soil
• Soil sampling design, related costs and impact on productivity

Remote Sensing for Crops and Soil
• Understanding of Electromagnetic spectrum in relation to agriculture
• Different observation platforms, their uses and comparison
• Types of Sensors or sensing systems available for agriculture and measurement of different indices

Map Making
• Map generation techniques using both low density and high density data
• Different models in map making - moving mean, inverse distance, global kriging
• Effectiveness of good maps

Site-Specific Crop Management
• Potential benefits
• Management options
• PA applications

Crop and soil management
• Decision support systems through combination of different data layers
• Continuous management and management options using soil, crop canopy and yield measurement

Crop monitoring and Decision Support Systems (DSS)
• Understanding of Crop Health systems
• Introduction to DSS for Crop Health
• Examples of different monitoring and DSS
• Tools for In-field diagnostics and its application

Benefits of PA
• Economic and environmental benefits.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion112:0012:00Magazine article for an industry journal – Written exercise. Includes prep for 5 min talk.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture101:0010:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion115:0015:00Final exam preparation and the examination
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical42:008:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching12:002:00Short seminar presentation by students
Guided Independent StudyProject work120:0020:00Project/Case study; Preparation and completion
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork52:0010:00Undertaken at Cockle Park
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study101:0010:00Preparation and compilation of notes for lectures and practicals
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study113:0013:00Independent reading and extra study beyond course material
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The intent with this practical and applied module is to build knowledge in this domain (Precision Farming -PF), develop skills to critically integrate information with basic agronomic knowledge and to develop skills to interact with those applying PF commercially i.e. growers and contract service suppliers (not scientists). The teaching is split roughly into

Lectures to provide background knowledge
Fieldwork to provide practical exposure to on-farm applications of technology and sensors
Practicals that have an emphasis on learning how to analysis precision farming data structures

Emphasis is placed on assessments to tie knowledge (lectures) together with collected and analysed data (literature, internet, fieldwork and practicals). This mirrors the information that graduates will be required to provide to end-users i.e. mirrors the requirements of many service providers.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1001A50The exam will be in 2 parts: 1) some multiple choice and short answer (30 mins) and 2) interpretation of data and recommendations.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M20Magazine style article
Case study1A30Case study based on interpreting University farm data
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Oral Presentation1MIndividual topics selected by students. Linked to Magazine article. Peer reviewed for feedback to article production
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The oral presentation also assesses the ability of a student to research relevant information and to present this information in an oral context. This will also serve as a peer-to-peer teaching exercises with oral topics open to assessment in the final written exam. Oral presentations are formative assessments with feedback provided to assist students with the preparation and content
of the magazine article.

The magazine article follows on from the oral presentation topic so students build on the information gather for the oral presentation. Again it assesses a student’s ability to research and present pertinent and up-to-date information that is relevant to industry and end-users in a clear and concise manner.
The case study project will help develop skills for integrating and interpreting on-farm data sets and arrive at a decision-making process to provide recommendations to growers.
The written examination will test basic knowledge and comprehension of the topic (50%) and present another case study for analysis and interpretation.

Study abroad students may request a take-away exam paper to be returned via NESS.

Reading Lists