CANCELLED Advanced Crop Physiology

Course content

Advanced Crop Physiology is an E-learning course offered by two of the partner universities in the Euroleague for Life Sciences Network: University of Copenhagen in Denmark and Lincoln University in New Zealand.

Through distance learning it is open for MSc students, PhD students, BSc(Hons) students and continuing education students from all over the world with a relevant background in agriculture, horticulture, plant science, plant biology and plant biotechnology.

The aim of the course is to provide students with the full theoretical framework for understanding advanced crop physiology and make them capable of applying crop physiology at the field level for optimizing crop yield and quality, thereby contributing to providing food and nutrition security in a world with increasing global population and demand for arable land. As an integrated part of the course students will work with local meteorological data to determine the effects of temperature, light, water and nitrogen on the development, yield and quality of arable crops in their own countries.

In the first week of the course the E-learning platform and the basic concepts of crop physiology are introduced. During the next four weeks crop development and nutrition is thoroughly examined by looking into the effects of temperature, vernalization and photoperiod on crop growth, investigating nitrogen assimilation in cereals and legumes, and discussing how to optimize nitrogen efficiency. The next four weeks are dealing with the effects of light interception and water stress on dry matter production, and the radiation use efficiencies and water use efficiencies of different crops are compared. In the following two weeks the focus is crop harvest index and crop quality and the course ends with a week providing an outlook to the future perspectives for applications of crop physiology.

Learning outcome

The aim of the course is to give a solid understanding of crop physiology and provide the knowledge and tools to devise strategies for optimizing radiation use efficiency, water use efficiency and nitrogen use efficiency to increase crop harvest index and improve crop quality. After completing the course the student should be able to:
- Define key concepts in plant and crop physiology
- Identify different crop development stages
- Describe how temperature, light interception, water availability and nitrogen availability affect crop development
- Outline different methods for measuring light interception, water availability and nitrogen availability
- Determine thermal time, vernalization, photoperiod, radiation use efficiency, water use efficiency and nitrogen use efficiency for different crops
- Calculate a soil water budget and soil nitrogen budget for different crops
- Summarize the quality characteristics of food, fodder and fiber crops
- Apply plant and crop physiology to increase crop harvest index and improve crop quality
- Discuss relevant aspects of crop development, light interception, water use, and nitrogen assimilation
- Devise strategies for optimizing crop production by integrating concepts, methods and models based on crop physiology

The course is based on 12 E-learning modules (E-modules) with: i) one E-module in the first week of the course, ii) two E-modules running in parallel for two weeks each in the following ten weeks of the course, iii) one E-module in the last week of the course, as well as 6 assessment tasks that must be completed during the course. Each E-module is composed of 1) an introduction, 2) an overview of the learning objectives, 3) a number of online learning activities and 4) a list of learning resources. The online learning activities consist of academic discussions, self-tests and calculation exercises. The learning resources consist of book chapters, videos and slideshow presentations, scientific articles and reports, spreadsheets for calculation exercises as well as other relevant material, which will be made available online. The role of the teachers is to assist student learning by serving as E-moderators for the various online learning activities by guiding the students and providing feedback.

The learning resources for the course consist of a textbook (Hay & Porter 2006, The physiology of crop yield. 2nd edition, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Oxford) together with several videos and slideshow presentations with audio as well as selected scientific articles, reports and other material, which will be made available online.

Type of assessment
Written examination
Written examination
Students will be assessed on the basis of i) a portfolio of submitted assessment tasks submitted on the given times and ii) a final written exam.

i) Portfolio: During the course students must submit 6 assessment tasks .
ii) Final written exam: At the end of the course within one week the students will get two home assignments on 24 hours each (estimated workload 4 hours).
Weight: 60% portfolio of assessment tasks; 40% final written exam.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
One internal examinator.
Criteria for exam assessment

See learning outcome.

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 192
  • Exercises
  • 164
  • Project work
  • 48
  • Exam
  • 8
  • English
  • 412