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Skip to 0 minutes and 8 secondsI'm Marie Dittmann, postdoctoral researcher at the School of Agriculture, Policy, and Development at the University of Reading. We all consume products that have been produced in agriculture, so this is an issue that affects us all.

Skip to 0 minutes and 24 secondsThe farming industry is changing. Farms are becoming bigger and bigger, there's less farmers, the population is growing, and customers have become more and more demanding.

Skip to 0 minutes and 38 secondsTogether with transport, industry, and energy supply, agriculture and the change in land use is one of the biggest sources of human-induced greenhouse-gas emissions. Climate-smart agriculture aims at reducing emissions from farming, adapting agriculture to climate change, and producing enough nutritious food for everyone. Throughout this course, we will discover two case studies. One is dairy farming, which offers the potential to mitigate greenhouse-gas emissions from agriculture. And the other one is the wine industry, which offers the potential to adapt to climate change. We want to show you some of the potential problems farming might be faced with in the future, such as extreme rainfalls, heat waves, or an increased risk of pests and diseases.

Skip to 1 minute and 29 secondsBut most of all, we want to make you think critically and understand the complexity of the problem.

Welcome to the course

Welcome to The Future of Farming: Exploring Climate Smart Agriculture, a free, online course produced by the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development at the University of Reading.

On this course you’ll explore the issues agriculture will face in the future and one possible approach for tackling these challenges: climate smart agriculture (CSA). You’ll begin by considering how agriculture affects and is affected by climate change before taking a closer look at some of the key principles of CSA through two very different case studies. The first focuses on dairy farming – a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions – and how emissions from this industry can be mitigated. Experts from the University of Reading will explain some of the strategies they are currently investigating within our Centre for Dairy Research. You’ll also hear from the owner of a climate-neutral, organic beef and sheep farm in Cornwall, UK about how he’s reducing his impact on the planet.

You’ll also discuss both the effects of climate change on the wine industry as a whole, and on the product itself – as a warming climate will change the flavour of some of the world’s most famous wines. You’ll hear from a Cornish winemaker about why current conditions are suitable for growing his chosen variety of grapes in the UK, as well as evaluating research into adapting viticulture more generally across Europe, where the industry is likely to face challenging conditions in the future.

Meet the team

Throughout the course you will see posts from our educators. It’s worth following the team below (click the link to their profile and then the pink button under their biography), to view their responses to common queries. By following other profiles, any comments made will appear in your activity feed on your profile, which you can filter by ‘Following’:

Dr Marie Dittmann is an animal scientist, interested in the feeding, digestion and methane production of herbivores. Marie also has an interest in animal behaviour and has done research on camels, pigmy hippos, lemurs, and other animals.

Dr Martin Lukac is an Associate Professor interested in the effects of climate change on agriculture and forestry. Martin specialises in ecosystem productivity, carbon cycling and the link between diversity and stability.

The course also features contributions from experts based in the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development at the University of Reading and partner institutions. They won’t be present to answer your questions and comments during the course, but Marie and Martin will be there to support and guide you. You can find out more about these contributors in this PDF.

Get extra benefits, upgrade your course

If you’d like to, you now have the option to upgrade this course which includes:

1. Unlimited access to the course

Go at your own pace with unlimited access to the course for as long as it exists on FutureLearn.

2. A Certificate of Achievement or Statement of Participation

To help you demonstrate your learning we’ll send you a Certificate of Achievement or Statement of Participation when you become eligible.

Find out more

Getting started

Before we get started and if you haven’t already done so, we’d be grateful if you could complete the pre-course survey. Now you’ve met the team and know what to expect from the course, we’d really like to meet you.

What interests you most about climate and agriculture? What are you hoping to gain from the course?

Share your thoughts in the discussion area. You can ‘Like’ and reply to other learners’ comments. You can also filter comments to see the ‘Most liked’ and find your own by selecting ‘My comments’.

Don’t forget to mark this Step as complete before you move on!

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The Future of Farming: Exploring Climate Smart Agriculture

University of Reading

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