Module Identifier RS36720  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Dr John M Warren  
Semester Semester 1  
Pre-Requisite RS25320  
Course delivery Lecture   44 Hours 22 x 2 hour lectures  
  Seminars / Tutorials   10 Hours 1 hour per week  
  Practical   12 Hours 3 x 3 hours  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam3 Hours Outcomes assessed: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5  50%
Semester Assessment Whole farm conservation plan - critique Outcomes assessed: 1, 5, 6  50%
Supplementary Exam3 Hours  50%
Supplementary Assessment Whole farm conservation plan - critique Students are required to produce a critique of the process involved in producing a whole farm conservation plan50%

Learning outcomes

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

1. Identify the potential environmental impacts resulting from various agricultural practices
2. Critically review the evidence used to compare the environmental impacts of different agricultural systems
3. Recognise the importance of scale (time and distance) in evaluating environmental impacts
4. Formulate a model to assess the possible environmental impacts of a new agricultural practice
5. Develop a farm waste management plan
6. Critically evaluate a whole farm conservation plan   


This module is designed to develop the students? ability to scientifically analyse the complex ecological interactions that occur between agricultural systems and their environment in the UK. The impact of intensive, extensive and organic agriculture on the environment in terms of: biodiversity, genetic diversity, habitat quality, habitat fragmentation, pollution and sustainable resource use are examined. A review of historical development of European environmental policy and agri-environment schemes will set the context for understanding current on-farm conservation practice. The practical ability to produce a whole-farm conservation plan will be developed by critical review of existing plans and the integration of ecological science with practical agricultural knowledge.

Transferable skills

.1 Independent project work
The assignment will develop the students? ability to work independently integrating ecological science, practical agricultural knowledge, and habitat quality assessment to be able to critically evaluate existing conservation recommendations. These aspects will then be summarised in a report that justifies its criticisms with reference to the ecological and agricultural scientific literature

.2 IT and information handling
The waste-management and conservation plan exercises include information that the students will be required to process using appropriate IT packages and present in an accessible format

.3 Use and analysis of numerical information
The waste-management and conservation plan exercises will require students to handle and interpret numerical information.

.4 Writing in an academic context
The conservation plan assessment culminates in the production of a written critique of the plan. Through the production of the report the students will develop the skill of academic writing, so that the resulting report should be scientifically robust while understandable to working agriculturalist.

.5 Oral discussion and presentation
The students? skills of oral discussion are developed through a series of informal seminar sessions / workshops, which run throughout the module and support the more formal lectures, by encouraging student lead discussion   

.6 Careers need awareness
The outcomes of the module are designed to provide the skills and understanding that are required by the professional agri-ecologist working in environmental impact assessment or producing agri-environment scheme applications

.7 Self-management
The critique of the farm-conservation plan assignment for this module requires the student to be able to self-manage. To successfully complete the exercise they must allow sufficient time to assimilate the various sources of information and for integrating these different components into the final report.

.8 Group activity
The tutorial sessions during the module not only provide the opportunity to develop their ability to analyse a variety of information sources and discuss it orally, it also provide an opportunity for the students to interact with each other while performing a range of group activities.

Reading Lists

Technical Reports
(1995) Effects of organic farming on the landscape Report to Countryside Commission. Entec
(1992) Green fields - grey future. EC agricultural policy at the crossroads Greenpeace, Amsterdam

Andrews J and Rebane M (1998) Farming and wildlife RSPB
Arden-Clarke, C (1988) The environmental effects of conventional and organic/biological farming systems. I. Impacts on the soil. Research Report RR-16. Political Ecology Research Group; Oxford
Boatman N (Ed) (1994) Field margins: integrating agriculture and conservation BCPC

Chamberlin D E et al (2000) Changes in the abundance of farmland birds in relation to the timing of agricultural intensification in England and Wales JOURNAL OF APPLIED ECOLOGY vol 37 :771-788
Debrinski D M and Holt R D (2000) A survey and overview of habitat fragmentation experiments CONSERVATION BIOLOGY vol 14:342-355

Lampkin N H (1990) Organic Farming Farming Press
Mannion A (2000) Global change and agriculture 1 & 2 University of Reading
Newman E I (1993) Applied ecology Blackwell Science

Overden, G (1998) Agri-environment schemes and their contribution to the conservation of biodiversity in England JOURNAL OF APPLIED ECOLOGY vol 35 : 955-960

Park, J R (1988) Environmental management in agriculture: European perspectives Belhaven
Pankhurst C et al (1997) Biological indicators of soil health CABI
Parker, D M (1995) Habitat creation - a critical guide English Nature

Technical Reports
Sustainable use of soil. (1996) Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution HMSO

Sutherland W and Hill D A (eds) (1995) Managing habitats for conservation CUP
Teddington P (2000) Dictionary of ecology and environment Collins

Technical Reports
Unwin R et al (1995) The effect of organic farming systems on aspects of the environment. A review for MAFF ADAS

Winter M (2000) practical delivery of farm conservation management in England English Nature


This module is at CQFW Level 6