Online course in Nature & Environment

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.

  • Duration 3 weeks
  • Weekly study 3 hours
  • Learn Free
  • Extra benefits From $44 Find out more

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

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

You’ll explore horticulture and arable farming, as well as meat, dairy, and egg production, as you examine different farming systems and issues that farmers face.

You’ll also look at the innovative technologies available to farmers that can boost sustainability. This knowledge will help you empathise with farming challenges, and better understand farming in relation to your food purchases.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 2 seconds[INTRODUCTION MUSIC FADING IN] Sustainability isn't an end state, we're constantly changing and evolving. It's a hugely exciting time. With things like, robotic milking-- it's 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 24 secondsThere are a lot of initiative 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 40 secondsLet'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 landscape and the environment in which farming takes place.

What topics will you cover?

– What ‘sustainability’ means and how it applies to farming.

– How crops are grown in the EU - both arable and horticultural.

– How livestock is farmed in the EU to produce meat, dairy products and eggs.

– The challenges of feeding a rapidly expanding global population.

– The trade-offs involved in financially viable organic, environmentally sustainable and socially acceptable production methods.

– Which technologies are providing the most sustainable solutions.

When would you like to start?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts. Find out more

What will you achieve?

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

  • Develop an informed and balanced understanding of the complexities of sustainable food production in the EU within the context of the global food supply chain.
  • Investigate how food is produced by EU farmers and explore the trade offs required when considering organic, environmentally sustainable and socially acceptable production methods.
  • Reflect on the challenges faced by farmers and how innovative technologies help them to provide a secure and sustainable food supply for a growing population.
  • Evaluate the benefits of different farming methods and apply what you’ve learned to your food-buying choices and working priorities.

Who is the course for?

This free online course is relevant to citizens of all ages who are interested in gaining an understanding on EU farming. It can be particularly useful to professionals working in a role related to the food industry but have no background in agriculture. Everyone is welcome to join for general interest purposes.

Who will you learn with?

Simona Grasso

Simona Grasso

I am a Post Doctoral Research Fellow in the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development at the University of Reading. I am a food scientist interested in developing new sustainable up-cycled foods.

Dimitrios Paraforos

Dimitrios Paraforos

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

Thomas Engel

Thomas Engel

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

Dimitrios Argyropoulos

Dimitrios Argyropoulos

I am an Adjunct Lecturer and Scientific Coordinator in the Research Center for Bioeconomy at the University of Hohenheim. My research focuses on Biosystems and Food Engineering.

Daphne Hoogeveen

Daphne Hoogeveen

I am communication specialist at Koppert Biological Systems. We provide an integrated system of specialist knowledge and natural safe solutions that improves crop health, resilience and production.

Who developed the course?

EIT Food is Europe’s leading food innovation initiative, with the aim to create a sustainable and future-proof food sector.

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

This activity has received funding from EIT Food, the innovation community on Food of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the EU, under the Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

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