Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years
Mutually Exclusive
Mutually Exclusive
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 2 x 1 hour lectures per week in weeks 1 - 6
Seminars / Tutorials 1 x 2 hour seminar per week in weeks 7 - 11
Practical 2 x 2-3 hour practicals during semester


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment COURSEWORK - 3000 WORD ESSAY  100%
Supplementary Assessment RE-SUBMISSION OF COURSEWORK  100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Define the objectives and principles of organic crop production, identify the regulations governing organic crop production in the European Union and describe the way these regulations are implemented in the UK;

2. Describe the role of soil organisms and organic matter (carbon) in maintaining soil fertility, identify appropriate soil and organic residue management practices; and evaluate the impact of soil management practices in organic farming on soil biological activity and fertility

Identify appropriate sources of major crop nutrients (N, P, K, Ca, Mg) and the factors influencing their cycling and utilisation in organic cropping systems, including preparation and interpretation of nutrient budgets;

Identify the main ecological principles governing cropping systems and illustrate/evaluate their application to rotation design and polycultures (intercropping), as well as interactions with non-crop elements, in organic cropping systems;

Assess the factors governing crop health and productivity, and discuss their application in practice, with particular reference to nutrition, weed, pest and disease control, yields and quality;

Design appropriate cropping systems for specific situations (e.g. arable, horticulture, perennial crops) and describe the management of selected arable and horticultural enterprises, taking account of technical, husbandry, financial, and environmental considerations as well as market requirements.

Brief description

This module covers the objectives, principles and practice of organic soil management and crop production in the context of the regulatory environment within which organic systems operate.


  • Principles of organic production and its regulatory framework
  • Soil biological activity and soil management
  • Carbon cycling: organic matter and residue management
  • Nutrient cycling, supply and management (primary focus on nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus
  • Cropping system design principles, rotations and polycultures
  • Fertility building using forage legumes and green manures
  • Crop protection - weeds, pest and diseases
  • Management of key crops (cereals, grain legumes, potatoes, vegetables)

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Communication Developed during students presentation of their coursework during seminars
Improving own Learning and Performance Through individual study for coursework
Information Technology Word processing and internet usage for individual essays
Research skills Developed whilst researching and writing an essay on a selected topic

Reading List

General Text
ADAS/EFRC (2002) Managing manures on organic farms Booklet series DEFRA Primo search Altieri, M (1995) Agroecology - the scientific basis of sustainable agriculture 2nd Intermediate Technology Publications Primo search Lampkin, N H (1990) Organic farming Farming Press Primo search Loomis, R S and Connor, D J (1992) Crop ecology - productivity and management in agricultural ecosystems Cambridge University Press Primo search Price-Jones, D and Solomon, M E (editors) (1974) Biology in pest and disease control Sagar, G R : On the ecology of weed control Pages 42 - 45 John Wiley & Sons Primo search Soil Association Technical guides for organic crop and livestock production Primo search Unwin, R (editor) (1990) Crop protection in organic and low input agriculture British Crop Protection Council Primo search Younie, D et al (editors) (2001) Organic cereals and pulses Chalcombe Publications Primo search
Recommended Consultation
Mader, P et al (2002) SCIENCE Soil fertility and biodiversity in organic farming 296 : 1694 - 1697 Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6