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NES2003 : Principles of Agronomy and Crop Improvement

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Ankush Prashar
  • Other Staff: Dr Paul Bilsborrow
  • 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 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
European Credit Transfer System


To provide basic knowledge and understanding of the main principles underpinning the performance of temperate arable crops which are set by environmental, management and genotypic factors and the practical applications of these principles.

This module focuses on two aspects:

1) Principles of agronomy - the impacts of major environmental factors (solar radiation, temperature and water supply) on crop physiology, growth, yield and quality and their management

2) Principles of crop improvement breeding of main arable crops for yield, quality, pest and disease resistance; evaluation and utilisation of new varieties; seed production and certification.

Outline Of Syllabus

1. Agronomy
Climatic influences on crop production
Climatic and weather recording equipment
Crop yield and dry matter production
Growth and development as a determinant of yield
Measurements of crop growth
Radiation and temperature effects on crop performance
Crop water relationships and irrigation

2. Crop improvement
Plant genetics: concepts and applications
Contribution of breeding to crop improvement
Plant breeding objectives
Fundamentals of plant breeding
Breeding of individual crop plants
Biotechnology in crop improvement
Evaluation of new varieties
Seed production and legislation

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion125:0025:00Revision for and completion of Semester 1 examination
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture201:0020:00Present in person /online
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study125:0025:00Compilation of notes and follow up after lectures
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study130:0030:00General reading and background research on module topics
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures deliver the basic subject knowledge needed by a student and helps him/her to understand principles underlying the agronomy of temperate, arable crops and the breeding, evaluation and production of new varieties for commercial utilisation. Associated farm visits demonstrate 'in the field' the practical application of agronomic principles and the importance of the effects of varietal choice and seed quality on crop management, performance and marketability in commercial situations.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination901A1003 questions from 6 to be attempted. In the event of the examination not being able to take place, this may be replaced with alternative
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise1MWritten exercise
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The written examination assesses a student's recall of key content of the module and relevant information from other sources and facilitates demonstration of his/her knowledge and understanding of the main principles of agronomy and crop improvement and how these may be applied in practice.

Exam also assesses student's integration of knowledge and understanding acquired from lectures, visits and other sources, through a sequence of data analysis, interpretation and report. This requires practice and application of Information Technology skills which are also assessed.

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

Reading Lists