933330 Conversion to organic agriculture - interdisciplinary project

Project course
Semester hours
Lecturer (assistant)
Zehl, Leopold Fritz Karl , Kirner, Leopold , Wohlmuth, Marie-Luise
Offered in
Sommersemester 2024
Languages of instruction


A) Introductory class to explain the content and to find working groups and choose topics for individual project works (case studies).

B) Discussion between working groups and teachers.

C) Discussions within the project groups.

D) Presentation of results in class.

Students` tasks:

a) Understanding and discussing processes and dynamics within the soil-plant-system during the conversion period.

Based on specific case studies students will

* display significant changes in crop rotations, lifestock, production resources/equipment (such as fertilizers, plant protection, machinery, etc.) followed by the conversion (before-after-scenario).

* describe the sustainability of the farm before and after the conversion by means of soil nutrient balances and balances of humus.

* identify weaknesses in the farm's structure and suggest possible methods and possibilities for improvement.

Students have to compile the theoretical basis for the project work in order to

* explain the chosen methods and calculation procedures/ schemes.

* show the theoretical context and background for the displayed issues and problems.

* make a statement concerning the situation of conversion to organic farming in Austria in consideration of the discussed topics within the case studies.

b) Knowing and understanding influential factors and empirical data/ practial experience concerning conversion to organic farming.

Students have to compile important factors for a conversion on the farm level based on literature research for the following topics:

* Hindering and promoting factors for the conversion on the farm level within the current scientific discourse.

* Practical knowledge and experience of conversion procedures.

* Recommendations for consulting concerning a conversion to organic farming.

c) Experience conversion scenarios on the regional scale / in your area.

Previous knowledge expected

Basic knowledge of organic farming, analysis of economical operations, calculation of balances (humus balance, nitrogen balance/budget, lifestock balance sheets, feed/fodder balances) and of business economics.

Objective (expected results of study and acquired competences)

The aim of the lecture is to lead students to

* gather further experience in project-oriented work

* research and combine knowledge of different areas of expertise (such as organic agriculture, regional economy, agricultural sociology, environmental psychology, production technique and economics) in order to understand the process of conversion to organic farming.

* acknowledge and understand the connections between obstacles and potentials of the conversion of farms or regions to organic agriculture.

* learn how to properly use different methods of analysis of processes faced by the conversion to organic agriculture (e.g. nutrient balances).
You can find more details like the schedule or information about exams on the course-page in BOKUonline.