Climate Management in Plant Production and Research

Course content

The course is divided into several topics and when possible, theoretical lectures are combined with practical exercises. The exercises are focused around a plant growth experiment in two different climates, with emphasis on the different aspects of plant physiology. The link between climate and the physiological behaviour of plants is studied by non-destructive methods, ending up in a final destructive plant harvest for growth analysis.

 

Topics during the course:

Climate effects on plant physiology: how are light absorption, CO2 fixation, water balance, and growth and development affected by the five major climate parameters – light, temperature, CO2 concentration, air humidity, and soil water availability?

 

Climate physics:

• What is “climate”?

• How does the climate vary in time and space?

• How are the major climate parameters physically related to each other?

• How is the climate monitored (climate sensors and phytomonitors)?

 

Climate technology: how can we manipulate the climate in production and research?

• Climate management in greenhouses (cover material, heating, vents and fans, CO2 injection, screens, artificial light, irrigation etc.).

• Climate management in field production (mulching, use of plastic, windbreaks, spectral changes, frost protection, irrigation etc.).

• Climate manipulation for ecophysiological studies on field levels.

• Static/traditional versus dynamic climate control based on photosynthesis models, and how the latter can be used to optimize plant production and energy saving.

 

Experimental design and data management:

• What challenges have to be considered when designing a plant growth experiment?

• How is data from plant growth experiments evaluated statistically?

• How are big data sets (e.g. climate data) best managed in plant experiments?

Throughout the course the students will be responsible for a plant growth experiment in two different climates controlled separately in two state-of-the-art greenhouse cells. On these plants we will investigate how photosynthesis, water balance, light absorption and growth are affected by the climate. In these topics crop physiology and ecophysiology will be linked to applied plant production and climate physics. By the detailed measurements of different plant physiological parameters on the same plants, the students will gain a deeper understanding of what is optimal growth conditions versus stress conditions, which is also applicable for plant production and crop stress physiology in the field.

Education

MSc Programme in Agriculture

Learning outcome

The aim of the course is to give an understanding of how knowledge of plant physiology can be applied in plant production under varied climatic conditions, with the technical solutions available for adjusting the climate in greenhouses and in the field.

The course follows two interlinking lines: 1) climate physics and climate management by the techniques available in greenhouse and field production and ecosystem studies, and 2) optimization of climate for desired plant responses. This includes knowledge in plant physiology of different varieties and species used as horticultural crops. Vegetables, fruits and ornamental plants originating from all corners of the world are included, and a wide variety of ecophysiological adaptations of plants will be covered, including plants having C3, C4 as well as CAM type of photosynthesis.

The students will be introduced to non-destructive methods for measuring leaf gas exchange, chlorophyll fluorescence, plant water relation characteristics, light absorption in leaves as well as the major sensors for monitoring the climatic parameters.

Greenhouse production includes the technique of using elevated CO2 concentration to promote growth. Therefore the course will also give insights into plant responses in the future climate scenario with elevated CO2, which is an important part of the global climate change.

 

Knowledge:

• Present an overview of how the major climate factors are controlled in greenhouse and field production and how they are measured.

• Describe the physical properties of the most important climatic factors and how they interact.

• Describe and quantify how leaf gas exchange responds to the major climate factors

• Describe how climate is managed in the horticultural industry.

• Describe how the climate can be manipulated in research on population/ecosystem level.

 

Skills:

• Discuss the effect of the major climate factors on plant physiology, growth and quality.

• Explain the interaction between the major climate factors at the physiological level when affecting leaf gas exchange.

• Analyse the effect of the balance between climate optimization and stress on plant growth and quality.

• Analyse the possibilities for improving current climate management in greenhouse and field

• Discuss, analyse and evaluate the production of horticultural crops from both a technical and climatic point of view.

 

Competences:

• Analyse and reflect on the relative importance of the choices made by the grower and the horticultural industry with regard to climate management to obtain an optimal productivity and minimal environmental load.

The course consists of theoretical lectures, theoretical exercises, practical exercises and excursions. The exercises are performed within groups of 2-4 students. Exercise reports are worked out in groups. Included education methods are case studies, computer analyses, colloquia, problem-based learning, lectures, practical exercises and several visits to commercial companies. This course has a substantial part ´hands on´ experience where students perform practical work including cases taken from practical horticultural production. Through the entire length of the course the students will run a greenhouse climate experiment and the exercises will utilize the climates used and plants produced in the experiment.

See Absalon for a list of course literature

The course requires basic knowledge of plant physiology on graduate level. Knowledge about plant production systems will be an advantage.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

Oral
Collective
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
ECTS
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination
One week before the exam the students are given four titles for presentations of 20 minutes duration. All four presentations should be prepared as Powerpoint and at the exam one presentation is randomly chosen to be presented, followed by 10 minutes of questions.
Aid
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
One internal examiner
Criteria for exam assessment

See learning outcome

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 36
  • Class Instruction
  • 10
  • Preparation
  • 89
  • Practical exercises
  • 26
  • Excursions
  • 15
  • Project work
  • 15
  • Guidance
  • 15
  • English
  • 206