Introduction to the thematic
Before discussing the effects of agriculture on the environment, this course presents the influence of abiotic and biotic factors on plant growth. A set of parameters (light, water, temperature, atmospheric gases, presence of pests, pathogens or competing plants) ultimately determines crop production. When one of the key elements is affected, production slows down or is destroyed.
Route 1 presents the foundations necessary to understand the environment in its broadest sense (concepts of watershed and aquifer, soil structure and functions, role and importance of biodiversity, water, carbon and nitrogen cycles).
Route 2 focuses on the various impacts of agricultural practices on water, soil, biodiversity and air quality. Most intensive agricultural practices affect the various environmental compartments. It is necessary to understand how they act in order to be able to respond effectively and, by reducing their effects, improve the state of the environment.
Route 3 presents techniques and methods to restore environmental quality (e.g. enriching the soil with organic matter to improve its structure and resistance to water erosion or compaction, to increase water storage or biomass in the soil). The environmental effects of various production systems are analysed by comparing their performance against conventional systems.
Sustainable environmental management is the subject of various international conventions and has been integrated into private standards. The course presents the objectives of these conventions and the requirements of the main environmental standards. Through its Sustainability Charter, COLEACP encourages companies to manage their activities in a sustainable way by commiting to reduce adverse effects on the environment and protect natural resources, biodiversity and ecosystem services.
To improve sustainable environmental management, two tools are presented in this course: environmental risk analysis, which identifies the environmental impact of producers’ practices; and life-cycle assessment, a standardised method for carrying out an environmental assessment of production. We will see that, in its production itinerary, a horticultural company needs to consider from the outset the issue of recycling or recovering the “waste” produced during the cultivation process.
To address all these very different aspects, this Sustainable Environmental Management course is structured as three routes. Routes 2 and 3 have two levels. The intermediate level allows you to tackle the subject and to understand the main principles, without going into all the details of implementation. Successful completion of a test will give you access to the advanced level, where you can progress in understanding the subject and address the more practical aspects of implementation (details of the steps to follow, planning of operations, procedures to implement, reporting of results, etc.).All three routes combined will enable you to achieve a broad level of knowledge about Sustainable Environmental Management; however, each route can be studied as a stand-alone resource.”