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  • University of Reading

Explore How Farmers Produce Food Sustainably

Gain an understanding of sustainable food production and the challenges that farmers face to offer a sustainable food supply.

7,807 enrolled on this course

A farmer inspects crops in a glasshouse using a tablet and mobile app to provide on site information.

Explore How Farmers Produce Food Sustainably

7,807 enrolled on this course

  • 3 weeks

  • 3 hours per week

  • Accreditation available

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Introductory level

Find out more about how to join this course

The CPD Certification Service

This course has been certified by the CPD Certification Service as conforming to continuing professional development principles. Find out more.

Build your knowledge of the processes used by farmers and food producers

Please note this course runs without facilitation

Have you ever wondered what makes food sustainable?

On this course, you’ll gain a better understanding of where our food comes from, how it’s produced, and the associated environmental, social and sustainability challenges for EU farmers.

As well as horticulture and arable farming, you’ll explore meat, dairy, and egg production, as you examine different farming systems. You’ll also learn about the innovative technologies available to farmers to boost sustainability so that you can better understand farming challenges, and how farming relates to your food purchases.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 0 seconds Sustainability isn’t an end state. We’re constantly changing and evolving. It’s a hugely exciting time. The things like robotic milking has been around for a while, but it’s only now it’s starting to become a little bit more affordable.

Skip to 0 minutes and 19 seconds There are a lot of initiatives to prevent food loss at all stages of the food supply chain. For example, a better communication between producers and markets about actually how much is needed.

Skip to 0 minutes and 34 seconds Let’s think about well, we’ve got to make farming financially sustainable, but we’ve got to do that in the context of maintaining and improving the kind of landscape and the environment in which farming takes place.


  • Week 1

    Sustainability in food production

    • Welcome

      Find out about what you will be learning, who will be guiding you and how the course is taught.

    • A framework for examining sustainable production

      Explore the frameworks involved in examining sustainable production and look at some of the challenges facing sustainable farming.

    • Horticultural farming

      An introduction to what horticultural farming involves and the differences between conventional and organic farming techniques.

    • Technology and how it can help

      How can technology help to make farming more sustainable? In this activity we focus in on technologies that do just that.

    • Review and reflect

      Over the past Week, you have looked why sustainability is so important when producing food. It is now time to reflect on what you have learnt and see how much you have remembered.

  • Week 2

    Feeding a growing population

    • Welcome to Week 2

      Hear about the challenges faced by farmers, to make their crops sustainable for a growing population.

    • Arable farming

      Find out more about what arable crops are, how they are grown and which arable crops are local to you.

    • Food loss and food waste

      Find out the differences between food loss and food waste in the global food supply chain.

    • Technology and how it can help

      Explore a timeline of technological developments in farming, the top 5 technologies having an impact in farming today and have your say on which you think will have the biggest impact on the future of farming.

    • Review and reflect

      Over the past Week, you have looked at Arable crops and the challenges of feeding a growing population. It is now time to reflect on what you have learnt and see how much you have remembered.

  • Week 3

    The future of livestock farming

    • Welcome to Week 3

      Reflect on which animal-derived products you eat before we consider consumption on a global scale and discover how trends are changing.

    • Ruminant production: beef, lamb and milk

      Discover the production cycles of cattle, sheep and goats, and the sustainability challenges they face.

    • Monogastrics: pork and poultry

      Explore the production cycles for pigs and poultry, including the cycle of laying hens and reflect on what it is you look for as a consumer of these products.

    • Technology and how it can help

      Discover the technologies being used to combat the challenges to the future of livestock farming.

    • Review and reflect

      Over the final Week of this course, you have looked at the future of livestock farming. It is now time to reflect on what you have learnt and see how much you have remembered.

Who is this accredited by?

The CPD Certification Service
The CPD Certification Service:

The CPD Certification Service was established in 1996 and is the leading independent CPD accreditation institution operating across industry sectors to complement the CPD policies of professional and academic bodies.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Demonstrate an informed and balanced understanding of the complexities of sustainable food production in the EU within the context of the global food supply chain.
  • Describe how food is produced by EU farmers
  • Summarise the trade-offs required when considering organic, environmentally sustainable, and socially acceptable production methods.
  • Explain the challenges faced by farmers and how innovative technologies help them to provide a secure and sustainable food supply for a growing population
  • Synthesise the benefits of different farming methods
  • Assess your food-buying choices and working priorities based on your knowledge of sustainable food production.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone interested in gaining an understanding of EU farming.

It will be particularly useful for professionals working in the food industry who have no background in agriculture.

If you’re looking to expand your knowledge on this topic, you might also find of interest the following EIT Food courses on food system, agriculture, and sustainability:

Who will you learn with?

I am a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development at the University of Reading. I am a food scientist interested in developing new healthy and sustainable foods.

I am an Associate Professor in the Institute of Agricultural Engineering at the University of Hohenheim. My research focuses on Precision Farming and Automation in Agriculture.

I am Manager Technology Innovation Strategy at the John Deere European Technology Innovation Center in Germany. My research focus is on precision agriculture and sustainable food production

I am an Assistant Professor in Biosystems Engineering.

I am Knowledge Manager at the R&D Entomology Department of Koppert Biological Systems. Our research focus is on the development of new natural solutions for the control of crop pests.

Who developed the course?

EIT Food

EIT Food is Europe’s leading food initiative, working to make the food system more sustainable, healthy and trusted.

University of Reading

The University of Reading has a reputation for excellence in teaching, research and enterprise.

Endorsers and supporters

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Buy this course

$54/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Subscribe & save

$349.99 for one year

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 13 Aug 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Learning on FutureLearn

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  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

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  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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