the last days where already frosty here in Skåne. Since weeks its snowing up north in Sverige but here south, with the sea-climate, the winter is a bit lazy. Good for us – we could sometimes still go by bike to university. But as I said: some days where already with temperatures below zero and made us freezing.
Frost is something you don´t want to have when your at a farm excursion. Lately we did another farm visit – but luckily we could spend most of the time inside. 😉 We interviewed a farmer who has a really diverse enterprise with an big social approach. Out of two hours interview we are now going to assess the sustainable development of the farm and try to give suggestions what can be improved. That is again a challenging task, but in group work it seems doable.
today we had our second excursion during the course ‘Environmental issues in crop production’. We visited Värpinge gård near Lund. We organised ourself to get there and then talked around three hours with the farmer about his farm. He runs, besides his vegetable, honey, egg and grain production, an ecological golf course as well, with some Agroforestry and permaculture elements right in the middle of the golf area.
We neither had a task during this farm visit, nor we had to work afterwards with the information we got. This was nice, because then we could just be there and asked any questions we want. This course I took had only a few lectures during the week and Thursday and Friday were usually free. Now we finished the lecture part and at the moment we are working in small groups for our Life Cycle Assessment-case. My group is working with apple production and we analyse and evaluate the different steps of the process regarding its emissions and environmental impacts. This is really interesting! Before Christmas we have to hand in a report with max. 10 pages and present our results. The individual assignment (there are two: the group work and the individual one) we have to hand in in January, so there is plenty of time. We could chose the topic by ourself for the individual paper, so you have the possibility to get to know more about agriculture topics which you are interested in. There are also reading seminars in this course, in total four, where you have read two or three papers and develop one question to each of the papers and also answer it for yourself. This work you have to hand in as well, and discuss it in one afternoon within the course the following week. That was really nice, because the discussions were always intense and you discussed, for example the Nitrate Directive, from a lot point of views.
As you can see, this course is not as busy as the first one or as Ludwigs course-but you will read something about his course in the next posts. 🙂
here comes a post about what you can do in your free time!
Now it is time for Julmarknad, where we went with some fellow students in Lund. Here in Sweden it is not in common that you have a Christmas market the whole time during December. On some weekends there are markets with stands where you can taste handmade bread, drink Glögg, look at handmade features and enjoy the old Swedish architecture. In the afternoon a lot of people came to the marketplace to celebrate the moment, when the lights of the huge Christmas tree of Lund turned on. Afterwards we ate falafel, of course. 😉
last week we had an excursion to a conventional farm near Kristianstad (within the course ‘Environmental issues in crop production’). At first we had a second breakfast with the farmer where we asked a lot of questions. His main crop is potato and he has lot of problems with wind erosion, also because his soil is quit sandy. It was very interesting to see what measures he applies to avoid erosion. And he is member of an association of potato-farmers who try to extract the protein out of potatoes to make it available for human consumption. After this, we had a little excursion to his surrounding fields as well.
Last week we had also an event on campus, called Branschdag Trädgård. It is a business day, organised by horticulture students. A lot of different representatives from various companies (seed, fertiliser companies, etc.) came and presented their business and job/internship possibilities. The day is the connection between the “business world” and students. It was nice to see what you can do after your studies.
As you can see, it never gets boring. 😉
Here is Ludwig again. As Jana already announced I am in the course Agroecology and Sustainability of Production Systems at the moment. The course builds really good up on the previous Agroecology basics course. As you know, I have studied Agricultural sciences already in my bachelors, so there is much repetition in all the basic lectures here. For instance the basic understanding of soils and soil life and soil chemistry or the concepts of cropping systems or livestock. However for other fellow students these concepts are totally new and some may struggle to understand them completely. From an agricultural background I would say this topics are a bit superficial here in the short time that is left for them. But nevertheless it gives me more time to learn about the methods and tools we are using.
A core learning goal of my current course is to use sustainability assessment tools and apply them in practice. Therefore we are going to go in groups to farms in Skåne and are trying to find out how sustainable they are working and what can be improved. To widen the view, compared to the last course, we are then making suggestions for feasible changes the farms can realise to bring the enterprise further towards a sustainable and multifunctional development. The leading thought behind that are always the agroecological concepts, that we´ve studied in detail.
Another nice detail of my course is a new form of lectures: we as students are creating our own weekly seminars with certain topics for our fellows. This changes perspectives of learning and makes the lecture routine more interesting and not so monotonous. I am going to tell you more about this seminars soon. This week I have to do mine with my group about Balance and interaction between crop and livestock production.
we almost finished the first week of our new courses. Ludwig is taken the ‘Agroecology and Sustainability of Production Systems’ course, and I am taking the course ‘Environmental issues in crop production’. Especially the course Ludwig is taken, builds up on the first course. We are both dealing with tools to assess farming systems. Therefore we using SAFA (Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture Systems) and Life Cycle Assessment as tools to evaluate a system regarding its impacts on the environment, analyse economic, social and governance structures and develop improvements for those system. Do not trust me if this are the complete aims of those tools – it is just the first week, so we will see for what we are using it. 😉
By the way, now it is time for the wild geese to fly towards the south. It is really nice to watch their formations in the sky and hear their gaggling.