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Organic and Low Input Systems


There is considerable world-wide interest in organic and other low input production systems because of the perceived benefits they provide in terms of food quality, food safety and reduced environmental impact when compared with ‘conventional’ production systems. Crop production within low input systems provides a ‘challenge’ to farmers and crop scientists alike in determining how to use their knowledge of the interactions between the soil and plants, and plant pests and pathogens, to grow crops with sufficient yield and quality.

The aim of this module is to provide an understanding of the production techniques employed within such systems. The course will focus on arable and horticultural crops but consideration will be given to livestock production within the context of a mixed farming system.


On completion of this module participants will be able to:

  • Understand the principles underlying organic and low input systems and have an appreciation of their history.
  • Understand the techniques used to maintain soil fertility without synthetic fertilisers and to grow marketable crops that are unaffected by pests and disease.
  • Demonstrate an ability to evaluate the environmental and other ‘benefits’ of growing crops in low input versus conventional production systems.


  • Introduction to organic and other low input systems.
  • Development of the organic movement.
  • Organic certification schemes.
  • Soil management and fertility.
  • Weed control in organic production systems.
  • Pest control in organic production systems.
  • Disease control in organic production systems.
  • Organic livestock production systems.
  • Organic arable systems.
  • Organic horticulture.
  • Plant breeding and seed production.
  • The organic market.
  • The benefits of low input production systems.