Article banner region

Sustainable Intensification of the Agricultural Production - the Potential Role of Legumes in the Nordic Countries

NOVA PhD course of 5 ECTS, organised by Jim Rasmussen, Aarhus University - Science and Technology.
Course dates and location: 20-24 June 2016 in Foulum, Denmark.

Karen Søegaard, Aarhus University
Course Description
The challenges of environmental impacts and climatic change call for sustainable intensification of agricultural production, and the new CAP reform aim at enhancing sustainability e.g. through using N2-fixing crops. Legume based crop rotations improve soil fertility, and local grown grain and forage legumes holds the potential to produce high protein fodder and feed at lower costs and reduce import of protein fodder to the Nordic countries. Greater inclusion of legumes in crop production offers challenges for the N use efficiency. Addressing this challenge requires an improved understanding of drivers for soil N cycling and associated losses.

Course aims are to: (i) present the potential of locally grown legumes to support sustainable agriculture in Nordic countries, and (ii) provide new knowledge of legume N cycling.

Invited teachers will cover the topics: growth condition – Karen Søegaard (AU-ST), legumes potential to replace imported protein fodder – Fred Stoddard (HU-AF), additional benefits of legumes – Stig Milan Thamsborg (KU-HEALTH), amounts of N added to cropping systems – Georg Carlsson (SLU), and soil cycling of legume N – Jørgen E. Olesen (AU-ST).

Programme Outline
Short program for the intensive course week:
On day 1 and 2 focus is on legumes production potential at the system level, and on day 3 and 4 focus is on the N and nutrient cycling from legumes.

Day 1: Students' own work on legumes and sustainable production, preparation for day 2 discussion with invited teacher, and legume growth conditions,
Day 2: Legume’s potential for enhancing sustainability in Nordic agriculture,
Day 3: Students' own work in relation to N and nutrient cycling, preparation for day 4,
Day 4: Cycling of N and other nutrient from legumes,
Day 5: Recapture of course and outlook for future research needs.

Learning Outcomes
At the end of the course the students should be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge of the benefits and challenges associated with increased use of locally grown legumes in the Nordic countries,
  • describe general growth characteristics, nutrient requirements, diseases etc. for legumes relevant in the Nordic countries,
  • explain emerging ideas of controlling factors in the cycling of N derived from legumes and effects on N loss pathways,
  • describe how legumes may affect plant community interactions and how among other secondary metabolites may benefit the agricultural production, and
  • relate new knowledge of legume impact on sustainable cropping systems and N cycling to the students own projects.

Pre-/Post-Campus Assignments
Pre-campus: students shall write a brief assignment based on own work, including two figures related to (i) improvement of sustainability of agricultural production, and (ii) N and nutrient cycling from legumes of their own study. These figures will be central in the discussions at the course.

Post-campus: students shall expand their pre-campus assignment showing how knowledge from the course have changed their views, and add a section reflecting on own learning during the course.

The students must deliver: a pre-course assignment, active participation in discussion during the intensive course week, and a post-course assignment.

Pedagogical Approach
The teaching methods will be individual reading and writing, peer and teacher feed-back session, and teacher facilitated discussion among students and invited teachers. Invited teachers will give short instructive lectures as a starting point for student to actively work with the subject.

Estimated Workload

  • 48 hours seminar/teacher facilitated group work
  • 5 hours lecture
  • 90 hours independent work (pre- and post-course)
  • 7 hours other - intro, discussion about teaching methods during intensive course, and excursion

Prerequisite Knowledge
The students should have a background in agricultural, soil, environmental, animal or related science fields.

Admission for NOVA courses is handled by the course organiser/ the NOVA member institution organising the course. Please see the links in the margin for more information.

Published 6. August 2015 - 13:32 - Updated 8. September 2016 - 14:55

NOVA University Network


Postal address:
Ingrid Aksnes Hjetland
NOVA Secretariat
Norwegian University of Life Sciences
PO BOX 5003
NO-1432 Aas