Course modules

Taught in English, the duration of the study programme is 2 semesters (full time for 9 months), consisting of an introductory module, 10 thematic modules, a workshop on the future of agriculture and a final module on integrating knowledge of the various module topics towards practical ICM solutions.

Participants of the MAS are also required to write a thesis during the last 12 weeks of the programme. Modules will include lectures, research demonstrations, field visits, and study tours to partner organisations. The programme will be led by ICM experts from CABI and University of Neuchâtel, and feature interdisciplinary guest lecturers from around the world.

important infos

  • Module 1: Introduction to Integrated Crop Management

    Module 1: Introduction to Integrated Crop Management

    The objective of this module to introduce the students to the principles of ICM as a holistic approach to sustainable agriculture. It considers the situation across the whole farm, including socio-economic and environmental factors, to deliver the most suitable and safe approach for long-term benefit. This means that students learn to carefully consider different components of the ICM approach such as (1) soil management, (2) seed & planting material, (3) crop nutrition, (4) integrated pest management, (5) crop rotation and cropping strategies, (6) water management/irrigation and (7) landscape management that fit the local environmental/climate conditions as well as economy  and policy considerations. In addition, students will be introduced to existing international ICM guidelines and related standards for good agricultural practices.


    Topics: Introduction to ICM; Key components of ICM; ICM international guidelines; Good agricultural practices

  • Module 2: Policy Considerations

    Module 2: Policy Considerations

    The objective of this module is to familiarise the students with policy considerations related to ICM at international, regional and national levels, and to understand how they govern and/or support the implementation of ICM. It will introduce some of the drivers for policy development. Students will become familiar with international agreements related to pesticides management, biodiversity, plant genetic resources, food safety, trade, etc. Case studies will be used to look at the development and implementation of policies related to ICM at regional and national levels. Students will also be given an overview of some of the key private agricultural standards that incorporate aspects of ICM.


    Topics: Policy drivers; International frameworks; Regional policies; National regulations; Private standards; Policy development

  • Module 3: Soil Management

    Module 3: Soil Management

    The objective of this module is to introduce soil management principles and practices to reduce environmental degradation and enhance agricultural sustainability. A major emphasis is placed on soil preparation, soil conservation, and methods for maintaining and improving soil organic matter and structure. Furthermore, soil management will be explored from a cropping systems perspective as well as geographical perspective. By the end of this module, students will be expected to understand these principles and practices and to be able to develop a sustainable soil management plan.


    Topics: Soils: an introduction; Soil classification; Soil management issues; Soil preparation & tillage; Sustainable soil management & conservation; Soil management cases studies


  • Module 4: Crop Nutrition

    Module 4 : Crop Nutrition

    The objective of this module is to provide students with an understanding of the strong link between fertilisation and pest population development, soil biota, the general environment and thus ICM. In particular, detailed knowledge will be provided on essential nutrients for plant growth, as well as their interaction with soil factors and processes. Students will learn how to interpret soil analysis information and to determine the amount of fertiliser necessary for optimum yields and crop quality. Several crops will be explored in more detail to deepen the students’ understanding of the subject and also practical issues affecting fertiliser use will be considered such as fertiliser types, application methods and environmental factors. Furthermore, students will develop a basic nutrient balance plan for the farm level.


    Topics: Introduction; General considerations; Nutrient soil fertility; Fertilizers; Factors that influence fertilizer amount; Principles of calculation of fertilizer amounts; Crop examples; Importance of balanced fertilization for IPM


  • Module 5: Experimental Design & Statistical Methods

    Module 5 : Experimental Design & Statistical Methods

    The objective of this module is to enable students to plan and conduct experiments that can add to the knowledge on ICM. This includes the sound development of objectives, hypotheses, choosing treatments and targeting issues such as replication, randomisation, stratification, blocking, plot design, and more.  Participants will be introduced to the logic as well as the technical side of the main forms of both descriptive and inferential statistics, such as hypothesis testing. This will allow them to do reliable data analysis. Finally, students will learn how to report statistical results, both in written and graphical form.


    Topics: Experimental design; Statistical methods

  • Module 6: Water Management

    Water Management (Unine, Prof. Brunner and external)

    In this model the link between water resources, irrigation and sustainability will be discussed. The goal is to develop a quantitative understanding on how using surface water or groundwater for irrigation purposes will affect a catchments water balance and the long term sustainability. This understanding will be developed based on a detailed discussion of a) basic water balancing approaches, b) groundwater flow processes c) surface water resources on a basin scale and  d) the link between water resources management and sustainability. The module includes an excursion that will demonstrate some hydrogeological field approaches. Based on the data acquired a groundwater flow map will be established.


    Topics: Water balances, Groundwater, Surface water, Water supply, Sustainability, Irrigation


  • Module 7: Workshop: Vision for a Sustainable Agriculture

    Vision for the Future of Agriculture (Unine, Prof. T. Turlings)

    For this module we will invite some of the most renowned scientists and policy makers in the field of agriculture. During this highly interactive workshop, the experts will present and discuss their vision on the future of agriculture, with and emphasis on the approaches that are needed to achieve worldwide food security for the generations to come. The workshop will take place at the university of Neuchâtel and will also involve students of the regular masters program in biology and doctoral students. ICM masters students are expected to actively participate in roundtable discussions and to write a report. 

    Topics: food security, approaches and policies in agriculture, state-of-the art technologies, conventional versus biological, transgenic strategies (the precise themes may vary from year to year).

  • Module 8: Integrated Pest Management


    Module 8 : Integrated Pest Management  

    The objective of this module is to learn to use integrated pest management as a system to keep harmful vertebrates, arthropods, diseases and weeds below economic damage levels. This will take into account (a) the ecology of crops, their harmful organisms and their natural enemies, (b) local conditions, (c) economic and social aspects, and (c) the international, national and local standards, regulations and compliance criteria. Students will be able to diagnose plant health problems and apply decision-making tools before, during and after harvest considering IPM principles.

    Topics: Introduction; Basic knowledge; Tools for IPM before planting; Tools for IPM during cropping; Post-harvest IPM; Design of IPM programmes; Implementation of IPM, knowledge transfer/exchange, extension, inspection, certification

  • Module 9: Landscape Management

    Module 9 : Landscape Management

    The objective of this module is to identify the organisms that provide important ecosystem services. Students will understand how the spatial arrangement and the diversity of crop fields and non-crop areas affect biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and the delivery of ecosystem services. Particular emphasis will be placed on the role of landscape diversity in supporting pollination and biological control in the crop fields. Students will become familiar with practical examples of how to establish and manage non-crop areas at the farm and landscape level to increase biodiversity and promote the delivery of ecosystem services.

    Topics: Introduction: Ecosystem services; Biodiversity and landscape complexity; Pollination; Pest control; Water regulation/purification; Other ecosystem services

  • Module 10: Seed/Planting Material Selection

    Module 10: Seed/Planting Material Selection

    The objective of this module is to introduce students to the importance of seed and planting material in ICM. It will provide a background to strategies for production of seed and planting material through real life examples. In addition it will introduce students to the importance and issues relating to seed quality and health. It will provide an insight into the complexity of factors to consider for varietal selection for seed and planting material. Furthermore, students will be introduced to local, national and international approaches of seed conservation and gain an understanding of seed certification and regulation at the national and international level.

    Topics: Introduction to the importance and role of seed & planting material in ICM; Seed production systems; Seed quality and health; Varietal selection; Conservation; Case studies

  • Module 11: Crop Rotation & Cropping Strategies


    Module 11: Crop Rotation & Cropping Strategies

    The objective of this module is to understand the agronomic impacts as well as the effects on soil quality factors. With the analysis of other relevant issues like profitability and risk of crop diversification and rotation, or more practical issues like advantageous crop sequences and technical feasibility, students will become familiar with the various aspects of this very important tool applied in ICM / IPM systems. Based on this theoretical background, students will learn how to develop rotation schemes that are adapted to the local conditions, thereby reducing weed, pest and soil related problems and optimising the nutrient balance in the field. In addition, the module will give an overview about other cropping strategies like intercropping, strip-cropping, cover crops, green manure, etc. and provide a brief outline about agroforestry systems in above described context.

    Topics: Introduction; Agronomic impacts; Effects on soil; Profitability and risk; Meadows in the rotation; Vegetable rotations; Planning crop rotations; Other cropping strategies; Outline Agroforestry systems


  • Module 12: Agricultural and Rural Economics

    Agricultural and Rural Economics (Dr Domnique Barjolle, FiBL and external speakers)

    • Accounting and budget reading and manipulation.
    • Linking economics and policy.
    • Network level of project management.
  • Module 13: Integration of Topics towards ICM

    Module 13: Integration of Topics towards ICM

    The objective of this module is to apply the gained technical knowledge in order to develop an ICM guideline that defines the gerneral agronomic rules and minimum requirements to be met by farmers participating in an ICM programme endorsed by a certification body. In addition, students will be introduced to inspection schemes required for the endorsement process.  In order to promote the every-day use of ICM as a long-term strategy to improve sustainable agricultural production, students learn to work with all relevant stakeholders through steps of participatory concept development, validation, implementation and finally dissemination of economically-viable ICM solutions according to local needs. Furthermore, students learn to building capacity of local partners as an important underlying key element for the successful implementation of ICM.

    Topics: Implementation of ICM guidelines; Certification; Inspection; Knowledge transfer/exchange

  • Module 14: Thesis Work

    Module 14: Research thesis (For MAS only)

    For their thesis the MAS students will, in principal, prepare written ICM guidelines for a specific crop in a particular country.  These guidelines should be preceded by an introduction in the form of a detailed literature review on the topic.  The precise thesis topic and possible alternative content will be decided during the course period, in consultation with the supervisors.

The MAS counts 60 ECTS

The DAS counts 39 ECTS

Calendar of the MAS-ICM course 2020