Module Identifier RS20210  
Academic Year 2001/2002  
Co-ordinator Mr Nicolas Lampkin  
Semester Semester 2  
Pre-Requisite RS10610 Or equivalent crop/livestock production modules  
Assessment Essay     30%  
  Exam   2 Hours   70%  

Syllabus / Curriculum design

The module provides an introduction to the objectives, principles, practices and performance of farming systems which rely primarily on management of the ecology of the farm to achieve agricultural production objectives, while reducing or eliminating the use of agro-chemical inputs and non-renewable resources for environmental and sustainability reasons. Topics covered include: Organic farming: definitions, objectives, organisations, legislation, standards; Soil biological activity and soil management; Carbon cycling: organic matter and residue management; Nutrient cycling - nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus; Cropping design principles; Rotations, green manures and polycultures; Crop protection - weeds, pests and diseases; Crop examples - wheat, potatoes, grassland; Role of livestock in organic farming; Livestock nutrition, health and alternative therapies, housing (behavioural and welfare issues), breeding and rearing; Livestock examples - milk and sheep; Marketing organic food; Financial performance of organic farming; Conversion costs and support; Organic farming and society; food quality and the environment.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students should be able to:

1.   Outline the aims and objectives of organic farming and identify the regulations governing organic farming in the European Union and the UK;
2.   Describe the role of soil organisms and organic matter (carbon) in maintaining soil fertility, and identify appropriate soil and organic residue management practices;
3.   Identify appropriate sources of major crop nutrients (N, P, K) and the factors influencing their cycling and utilisation in organic farming, prepare nutrient budgets;
4.   Identify the main ecological principles governing cropping systems and their application to rotation design and polycultures (intercropping), as well as weed, pest and disease control;
5.   Discuss the role and integration of livestock and forage production in organic farming systems;
6.   Identify the key factors influencing livestock nutrition, health, housing, welfare, breeding and rearing in organic systems and assess their impact on livestock performance;
7.   Discuss the role of the market and other factors influencing the physical and financial productivity of organic farming;
8.   Discuss the factors influencing the adoption of organic farming and the conversion process
9.   Discuss the contribution of organic farming to food quality, environmental and social policy objectives and outline the policy measures which have a direct influence on the extent and adoption of organic farming in the European Union.

Aims of the module

To describe and analyse the objectives, principles and practice of organic farming systems in temperate zones.

Reading Lists

Mollison, W.. (1990) Permaculture: a practical guide for a sustainable future. Island Press, Washington D.C.
Newton, J. (1992) Organic grassland. Chalcombe Publications, Canterbury
(1997) Standards for organic food and farming. Soil Association Organic Marketing Co. Ltd., Bristol
Altieri, M. (1995) Agroecology - the science basis of sustainable agriculture.. 2nd. Intermediate Technology Publications; London
Baillieux, P and Schrape A. (1994) Organic Farming Green Europe 2/94. European Commission, Brussels
Balfour, E B. The Living Soil and the Haughley Experiment. 1976. Universe Books; New York
Blake, F. (1994) Organic Farming and growing. Crowood Press, Swindon
Chamberlain, A.T., Walsingham, J.M. and Stark, B.. Organic meat production in the '90s. Proc. Conf., Reading University, September 1989. 1989. Chalcombe Publications
Francis, C.A., Flora, C.B. and King, L.D. (eds). (1990) Sustainable agriculture in temperate zones. John Wiley, New York
Lampkin, N.H.. Organic Farming. 1990. Farming Press, Ipswich
Lamkin, N.H. and Measures, M.. (1995) 1995/6 Organic Farm Management Handbook. University of Wales, Aberystwyth
Lampkin, N.H. and Padel, S (eds.). (1994) The economics of organic farming - an international perspective. CAB International, Wallingford