Module Identifier RS36720  
Academic Year 2007/2008  
Co-ordinator Dr John M Warren  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Dr Peter Dennis, Dr Graham P Harris  
Pre-Requisite RS25320 OR RD20420 Or similar module from IRS  
Course delivery Lecture   2 x 2 hour lectures per week  
  Seminars / Tutorials   1 x 1 hour seminar per week  
  Practical   4 x 3 hour practicals per semester  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment Whole farm conservation plan - critique Outcomes assessed: 1, 5, 6  50%
Semester Exam3 Hours Outcomes assessed: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5  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%
Supplementary Exam3 Hours  50%

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 student's 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.

Module Skills

Problem solving The module 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. This involves identifying and solving non-routine problems. These aspects will then be summarised in a report that justifies its criticisms with reference to the ecological and agricultural scientific literature.  
Communication The conservation plan assessment culminates in the production of a written critique of the plan. Through the production of the report students will develop the skill of academic writing, so that the resulting report should be scientifically robust while understandable to working agriculturalists.  
Improving own Learning and Performance The critique of the farm conservation plan assignment for this module requires the student to be able to apply integrative learning strategies. To successfully complete the exercise they must allow sufficient time to assimilate the various sources of information and for integrating learning from several modules to produce a full understanding of the process.  
Application of Number The waste management planning workshop requires students to handle and interpret numerical information to evaluate the best solutions for potential problems.  
Personal Development and Career planning 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  

Reading Lists

** General Text
Andrews J and Rebane M (1998) Farming and wildlife RSPB 0903138670
Boatman N (Ed) (1994) Field margins: integrating agriculture and conservation BCPC 0948404752
Lampkin N H (1990) Organic Farming Farming Press 1903366291
Mannion A (2000) Global change and agriculture 1 & 2 University of Reading
Newman E I (2000) Applied ecology and environmental management Blackwell Science 0632042656
Pankhurst C et al (1997) Biological indicators of soil health CABI
Park, J R (1988) Environmental management in agriculture: European perspectives Belhaven
Parker, D M (1995) Habitat creation - a critical guide English Nature
Sutherland W and Hill D A (eds) (1995) Managing habitats for conservation CUP 0521447763
Teddington P (2000) Dictionary of ecology and environment Collins 1901659615
Winter M (2000) Practical delivery of farm conservation management in England English Nature

Technical Reports
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
Sustainable use of soil. (1996) Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution HMSO
Unwin R et al (1995) The effect of organic farming systems on aspects of the environment. A review for MAFF ADAS
(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

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


This module is at CQFW Level 6