Module Identifier RSM1710  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Dr John M Warren  
Semester Semester 1  
Pre-Requisite RS11720 , RS20210 or, RS24110 or equivalents  
Course delivery Practical   9 Hours 3 x 3 hour practical visits  
  Lecture   20 Hours 20 x 1 hour lectures or tutorials  
  Other   2 Hours Discussion. 2 x 1 hour slots for oral presentations/discussions on Conservation plan  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment Group Project Course Work: Assignment set in week 1 and submitted week 11  100%
Supplementary Exam Re-presentation of failed element of coursework. 

Learning outcomes

On completion of the modules, students should be able to:

1. Determine the potential environmental impacts of particular production systems and practices.
2. Critically analyse the methods used to assess the impacts of agricultural systems on the environment.
3. Apply ecological principles to enhance the environmental impacts of organic farming systems.
4. Recognise the importance of landscape-scale processors and historical context for agricultural systems.
5. Interpret the conflicts which occur when trying to balance production with sustainability.
6. Design a whole-farm nature conservation plan in context with the wider environment.
7. Establish a farm waste management plan and assess its likely environmental impact.

Brief description

The module aims to provide students with an understanding of the positive and negative environmental impacts of organic agricultural systems, and an understanding of how to use ecological principles to enhance the environmental impacts plus the ability to scientifically measure these impacts.


This module will cover the following topics:
Environmental impacts of organic and conventional agriculture;
Conflicts between production and sustainability;
Maintenance, enhancement and creation of agricultural habitats and features;
Importance of scale, long term processors and hisotrical context for agricultural systems;
Farm waste management planning;
Resource use, conservation and pollution (key issues, impacts of organic agriculture, potential and techniques for improvement);
Biodiversity (genetic, species and habitat level);
Practical whole-farm conservation planning;
Measuring the environment impacts of various types of agricultural production systems and practices.

Whole-farm conservation plans will be prepared.

Reading Lists

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
Arden-Clarke, C (1988) The environmental effects of conventional and organic/biological farming systems. II. Impacts on the crop ecosystem, wildlife and its habitats. Research Report RR-17. Political Ecology Research Group; Oxford.
(1995) Effects of organic farming on the landscape Report to Countryside Commission. Entec, Warwick
(1992) Green fields - grey future. EC agricultural policy at the crossroads Greenpeace, Amsterdam.
Lampkin N H (1990) Organic Farming Farming Press
Redman M (ed.) (1992) Organic farming and the countryside. Report for the Countryside Commission. British Organic Farmers, Bristol.
Stolton, S et al (eds) (2000) The relationship between nature conservation, biodiversity and organic agriculture. Conference Proceedings. The World Conservation Union. Vignola
Unwin, R et al (1995) The effect of organic farming systems on aspects of the environment. A review for MAFF. ADAS, London
Stolze, M et al (2000) The environmental impacts of organic farming in Europe. Organic Farming in Europe: Economics and Policy Vol 6.

Chamberlain D, Fuller R and Brooks D (1996) The effects of organic farming on birds Elm Farm Research Centre Bulletin 21 :4-9
Reganold J P, Elliot L F and Unger Y L (1987) Long-term effects of organic and conventional farming on soil erosion Nature 330 :370-372
Kristensen, L (ed) (1995) Nitrogen leaching in ecological agriculture Biological Agriculture and Horticulture 11 :1-4


This module is at CQFW Level 7