Module Identifier RSM1710  
Module Title ORGANIC FARMING AND THE ENVIRONMENT  
Academic Year 2007/2008  
Co-ordinator Dr John M Warren  
Semester Semester 1  
Pre-Requisite RS11720  
Course delivery Practical   3 x 3 hour practical visits per semester  
  Lecture   2 x 2 hour lectures per week  
  Other   2 x 1 hour Oral presentations/discussions on Conservation Plan  
Assessment
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment Group Project Course Work: Assignment set in week 1 and submitted week 11  100%
Supplementary Assessment Re-presentation of failed element of coursework.100%

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.

Content

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.

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.  
Improving own Learning and Performance The critique of the farm conservation plan assignment for this module requires students to be able to apply integrative learning strategies. To successfuly 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 wast-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 agr-ecologist working in environmental impact assessment or producing agri-environment scheme applications.  

Reading Lists

Books
** General Text
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.
Lampkin N H (2002) Organic Farming Farming Press 1903366291
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 3934055052
Stolze, M et al (2000) The environmental impacts of organic farming in Europe. Organic Farming in Europe: Economics and Policy Vol 6. 3933403057
Unwin, R et al (1995) The effect of organic farming systems on aspects of the environment. A review for MAFF. ADAS, London
(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.

Articles
Chamberlain D, Fuller R and Brooks D (1996) The effects of organic farming on birds Elm Farm Research Centre Bulletin 21 :4-9
Kristensen, L (ed) (1995) Nitrogen leaching in ecological agriculture Biological Agriculture and Horticulture 11 :1-4
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

Notes

This module is at CQFW Level 7