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Sustainable intensification of the agricultural production – the potential role of legumes in the Nordic countries (2016)

Name of course: Sustainable intensification of the agricultural production – the potential role of legumes in the Nordic countries

ECTS credits: 5

Course parameters:

Language: English

Level of course: PhD-course

Time of year: May to August 2016, intensive course 20 – 24 June 2016.

No. of contact hours/hours in total: 150 hours in total whereof 60 are contact hours.

Capacity limits [e.g. 20 participants]: 25

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

Learning outcomes and competences:

At the end of the course, the student 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.

Compulsory program:

The students must deliver:

  • active participation at the intensive course week,
  • a pre-campus assignment and pre-campus reading, and
  • a post-campus assignment.

Course contents:

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.

Invited teachers covers the topics: growth conditions, potential for legumes to replace imported protein fodder, additional benefits from legumes, amounts of N added to cropping systems, and soil cycling of legume N.

Pre-/post-campus work:

Pre-campus: students shall write a brief assignment based on their 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. Furthermore, students will get material that shall be read prior to the campus week.

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.

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.

Brief plan for the intensive course week:

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.


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

Name of lecturers:

Karen Søegaard (AU-ST), Fred Stoddard (HU-AF), Stig Milan Thamsborg (KU-HEALTH), Georg Carlsson (SLU), Jørgen E. Olesen (AU-ST), and Jim Rasmussen (AU-ST).

Type of course/teaching methods:

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.

Literature: To be announced.

Course homepage:

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

Provider: Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University.

Special comments on this course: None.

Time: May to August 2016 with the intensive course taking place from 20 – 24 June 2016.

Place: Research Centre Foulum, Aarhus University, Denmark.


Deadline for pre-registration is 31 March 2016.

Information regarding admission will be given before 15 April 2016.

For pre-registration use the web-shop link:

If you have any questions, please contact Jim Rasmussen, e-mail: 

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Revised 20.06.2016