From 2 November 2020, the autumn semester 2020 will take place online. Exceptions: Courses that can only be carried out with on-site presence.
Please note the information provided by the lecturers via e-mail.

Search result: Catalogue data in Spring Semester 2015

Agroecosystem Science Master Information
Majors According
Major in Crop Science
Disciplinary Competences
Cropping Systems
NumberTitleTypeECTSHoursLecturers
751-4704-00LWeed Science IIW+2 credits2GB. Streit, N. Delabays, U. J. Haas
AbstractModern weed management comprises competent knowledge of weed biology, weed ecology, population dynamics, crop-weed-interactions and different measures to control weeds. Weeds are understood to be rather part of a habitat or a cropping system than just unwanted plants in crops.
ObjectiveAt the end of the course the students are qualified to develop sustainable solutions for weed problems in agricultural and natural habitats.
ContentModern weed management comprises competent knowledge of weed biology, weed ecology, population dynamics, crop-weed-interactions and different measures to control weeds. Weeds are understood to be rather part of a habitat or a cropping system than just unwanted plants in crops. Accordingly, this knowledge will be imparted during the course and will be required to understand the mechanisms of integrated weed control strategies.
751-3604-00LPlant Breeding
Does not take place this semester.
W+3 credits3GA. Hund, B. Boller, C. Grieder, R. Kölliker, B. Studer
AbstractSuccessful plant breeding requires knowledge of genetics, the methods to detect genetic variation and to utilize it for selection. The course builds on the course "Pflanzengenetik" and illustrates these basics by means of exercises and practical examples. This will be complemented by lessons in molecular breeding and latest developments in genotyping and phenotyping.
ObjectiveAt the end of the course you will be able to design, assess and analyze variety test experiments. You will have basic knowledge on phenotyping and genotyping technologies, and know how to connect this information for quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping and association analysis. Furthermore, you will be able to assess relationships among genotypes by means of multivariate statistics (e.g. cluster analysis) using genetic and phenotypic information.
ContentThe course is organized in the following three modules:
Module 1: Phenotyping of plant breeding experiments in the field phenotyping platform (FIP) at Eschikon Field Station.
Module 2: Statistical evaluation of the assessed data in R
Module 3: Molecular breeding
The course will be held at Eschikon Field Station, where 12 computers will be available for exercises with R.
We will observe the development of crops planted in the unique filed phenotyping platform. The field part includes two full days (July 02/03) during the summer semester break. The dates are chosen to allow you assessing buckwheat and wheat plants at stages of development, when meaningful measurements can be taken. In case somebody can't attend the course at these two days for justified reasons, we will seek for an alternative exercise.
During the course, we will have a closer look at wheat and buckwheat.
In wheat, we aim to teach the basic skills of phenotyping of plant development. You will assess the development using the simple scoring method, to train your breeder's eyes. Furtheremore, you will use sensors and indices used in the novel Field Phenotyping Platform (FIP), such as normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), thermography and multispectral sensing. At the end of the course you will be able to judge the advantages of the "NDV-eye" vs. your Breeder's eye.
With Buckwheat we aim to establish a breeding program at ETH which is mainly operated by students. Here we need your enthusiasm, experience and input in order to succeed. You will score different traits of agronomic importance during the field day in summer. At the end of the course you should be able to pick the best varieties to make crosses for a planned breeding program organized by you and your fellow students of subsequent semesters.
In the statistical part of the course (module 2), you will learn how to process your data using the statistic package R and ASREML-R. For example, you will use the data assessed in module 1 to calculate heritabilities by means of analysis of variance. This part requires a basic understanding of R as taught in "Experimental Design and Applied Statistics in Agroecosystem Science" as well as of quantitative genetics as taught in "Pflanzengenetik". However these courses are not mandatory to enroll in plant breeding.
In the third module, you will learn about the genetic toolbox that is available for molecular breeding. Starting with the latest developments in DNA marker and genotyping technologies, the basic principles of genetic linkage mapping and QTL analysis will be illustrated. Novel breeding concepts such as genomic selection or breeding by design will be explained, discussed and evaluated for their potential to accelerate breeding progress in different crop species.
Prerequisites / NoticeYou need a Basic understanding of R as taught in "Experimental Design and Applied Statistics in Agroecosystem Science" as well as quantitative genetics as taught in "Pflanzengenetik". However these courses are not mandatory to enroll in plant breeding.
751-4106-00LCrop PhenotypingW4 credits4GA. Walter, A. Hund, J. Leipner, F. Liebisch
AbstractPhenotyping is mostly understood as a non-invasive, quantitative assessment of plant and organ morphology at different wavelengths. In this course, standard and customized phenotyping platforms and approaches are introduced and applied to characterize crop performance in the field and in the lab. The relevance of phenotyping for breeding, field management and precision agriculture is shown.
ObjectiveAt the end of the course you will know a range of different phenotyping methods and how to assess their utility for different issues. You also know the critical stages of individual crops and you can identify promising traits and phenotyping approaches that are appropriate to improve a crop or its management in the field.
ContentBasic knowledge in physiology, breeding and management of our major crops will be combined with concepts of inheritance, experimental design, crop modelling and abiotic stress. By lectures, discussions, and hands-on experiments, you will learn to use image-based phenotyping methods for a performance assessment of genotypes of a breeding population and to assess the efficiency of measures of field management.
Crops are exposed to different abiotic stress factors during their development. Adaptation of crops to extreme environmental conditions likely to be encountered in the course of the year (e.g. cold and heat stress; water-saturated or dry soils) has been achieved by plant breeding to a good extent. In many cases, however, there is enormous potential for optimization.
The most important mechanisms of plant adjustment towards stress will be explained, as well as critical stages identified in which stress affects yield most severely. You will learn methods by which the response of plants to environmental parameters is quantified non-destructively. You learn how to deal with the challenge of spatial variability in the field, when it is necessary to analyze a lot of genotypes. You will get to know different phenotyping methods in the field and under controlled conditions. An important parameter of analysis will be the measurement of the growth of roots and shoots and the response of this parameter to environmental stress. Moreover, you will apply thermography and multispectral image analysis as exemplary remote sensing methods and you will use these methods to calculate parameters such as canopy cover, water status and leaf greenness of individual plants or crop stands. Also, you will learn the use of chlorophyll fluorescence to assess the efficiency of the photosynthetic apparatus.
751-3606-00LMolecular Plant BreedingW3 credits2GB. Studer, C. Grieder, A. Hund, R. Kölliker
AbstractMolecular tools have contributed significantly to improve the process of plant breeding throughout the last decades. The course Molecular Plant Breeding illustrates - on the basis of lectures, exercises and practical examples - the most important molecular breeding tools (QTL, association studies..) and how these tools are applied to plant breeding by means of marker-assisted or genomic selection.
ObjectiveAt the end of the course Molecular Plant Breeding you will be able to:
- design and statistically analyze genetic experiments for important characteristics such as repeatability, heritability, or least square means
- understand different molecular marker technologies and genotyping methods, and how the generated data can be used for genetic distance measures and multivariate statistics in experimental and natural populations
- use the most important molecular breeding tools such as genetic linkage mapping, QTL analysis, genome-wide association studies and to apply these tools to plant breeding by marker-assisted and genomic selection
- describe different sequencing technologies and strategies for genome sequencing, transcriptome profiling (RNAseq) and genotyping by sequencing
- apply basic bioinformatics tools for sequence data management and comparative genomics (BLAST, simple assemblies, alignments and gene annotations)
ContentThe course Molecular Plant Breeding is based on complementing lectures, exercises and practical examples. The examples cover a wide range of species and traits and will be taught by four different experts in the field. A detailed program including dates and specific contents will be provided by the end of 2014.
Lecture notesScripts and slides for each lecture and will be made available through eDoz.
LiteratureFor each lecture, additional literature covering the topic will be provided.
Prerequisites / NoticeThe course will be held at Eschikon Field Station, where 12 computers will be available for exercises with R or - if necessary - other specific software packages. Attendance of the courses Pflanzenzüchtung and Plant Breeding II is recommended; basic understanding of R (as taught in Experimental Design and Applied Statistics in Agroecosystem Science) is advantageous.
751-4204-01LHorticultural Science (FS)W2 credits2GL. Bertschinger, R. Baur, C. Carlen
AbstractAfter an introduction (2h), lectures address 2 horticultural cropping systems and value chains, each one in 2 2h-lecture blocks. Afterwards, students split in 2 groups for addressing a case study focusing on one of the cropping systems treated before. An excursion to a research site might be included. In a final colloquium, each group presents a report on their case study and their conclusions.
ObjectiveAchieve a deepened understanding of horticultural value chain challenges related with ecological intensification, resource efficiency, climate change and healthy, safe food production, and the problem solution strategies and scientific principles behind.
Deliver in a team effort a report and presentation with a comprehensive insight into the studied problem and its science-based solution strategy.
ContentIn the autumn semester, the two addressed cropping systems and value chains are fruit-production and viticulture.
In the spring semester, the two addressed cropping systems and value chains are vegetable-production- and berry-production or glasshouse-horticulture.
The selected topics address challenges with regard to ecological intensification, resource efficiency or climate change and branch into on-going research and development projects.
Lecture notesDocuments handed out during the case studies.
LiteratureProvided by the case study leaders.
Prerequisites / NoticeThe course builds on basic knowledge delivered by 'Horticultural Crops I & II' (BSc). If these courses have not been followed by interested participants, equivalent knowledge and experience will greatly support a successful and productive participation of the participating student.
Language: spoken E, G or F, Documents: Preferably English, G/F possible.
Crop Health
NumberTitleTypeECTSHoursLecturers
751-5110-00LInsects in AgroecosystemsW+2 credits2VS. Halloran, K. Mauck
AbstractThis class will focus on insect-plant interactions in Central European agroecosystems, and on regulators of insect pest populations. Lectures will cover important crop systems in central European agriculture. Within each system, major pests and their interactions will be described in an ecological context, focusing on key concepts in pest prediction and management.
ObjectiveAt the end of this course, students will have gained in-depth knowledge of the ecology of major pest species and their impacts within specific crop systems in Central Europe. Our approach will allow students to transfer this knowledge to related questions in other systems. Additionally, students will learn about current research goals in agroecology and how these goals are being addressed by scientists engaged in agricultural research.
ContentInsect-plant interactions in middle European agroecosystems are the focus of this course. Always starting from an important perennial or annual crop, specific insect species of economic significance are presented along with the life cycles, population dynamics, and the insect-plant interactions relevant to economic impacts on the crop. Natural factors which limit such damage are introduced, e.g. parasitoids and predators. Each section of the course is complemented by a basic ecological, biological or engineering theme or approach such as host shift, physiological time, or sampling techniques. Recent advances in research will also be addressed throughout the course and reinforced with periodic readings of recent primary literature.
Lecture notesProvided to students through ILIAS
LiteratureSelected required readings (peer reviewed literature, selected book chapters).
751-4904-00LMicrobial Pest ControlW+2 credits2GJ. Enkerli, G. Grabenweger, S. Kuske Pradal
AbstractThis lecture provides conceptual as well as biological and ecological background on microbial pest management. Methods and techniques applied to develop and monitor microbial control agents are elucidated.
ObjectiveTo know the most important groups of insect pathogens and their characteristics. To become familiar with the basic steps necessary for the development of microbial control agents. To understand the techniques and methods used to monitor field applications and the procedures involved in registration of products for microbial pest management.
ContentDefinitions and general terms used in microbial control are presented. Biological and ecological aspects of all arthropod-pathogenic groups (virus, bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes) as well as their advantages and disadvantages in relation to biocontrol are discussed. Particular emphasis is put on hypocrealean and entomophthoralean fungi. Examples are used to demonstrate how projects in microbial control can be set up, how pathogens can be applied and how efficacy, non-target effects, persistence and dissemination are monitored. Furthermore, the necessary steps for product development, commercial aspects and registration requirements are discussed.
Lecture notesDie grundlegenden Aspekte werden als Skript (Präsentationsunterlagen) abgegeben.
LiteratureHinweise auf zusätzliche Literatur werde in der Lehrveranstaltung gegeben.
751-4902-00LModern Pesticides - Mode of Action, Residues and Environmental FateW+2 credits2VM. Müller, I. J. Bürge, T. Poiger
AbstractThe biochemical principles of the mode of action of plant protection products (PPP) are presented. Important topics are mechanisms for selectivity, development of resistance, residue formation in crops and food safety as well as behavior in the environment.
ObjectiveThe structures and modes of action of modern pesticides (synthetical compounds, natural compounds) are presented. The structure-activity relationships lead to considerations of actual use conditions in crops such as fungicides in viticulture, residues in edible parts of treated plants, possible side effects and environmental fate.
ContentAfter a short introduction on pesticide registration (administrative process as in Switzerland and EC, food safety), the biochemical background of the mode of action of important groups of PPP active ingredients is presented. Furthermore, selectivity of pesticides, leaching of herbicides to groundwater, accumulation of pesticides in soil, development of resistance of fungicides, formation of residues in edible parts of the crops, and side-effects on non-target organisms shall be covered.
Lecture notesAn e-script (pdf-files, in German) is is provided as download at the beginning of spring term.
Literaturenone
Agriculture and Environment
NumberTitleTypeECTSHoursLecturers
751-5118-00LGlobal Change Biology Information W+2 credits2GH. Bugmann, N. Buchmann, C. Emmel, L. Hörtnagl
AbstractThis course focuses on the effects of anthropogenic climate change as well as land use and land cover change on terrestrial systems. Our current understanding of the coupled human-environmental systems will be discussed, based on observations, experiments and modeling studies. Different management options for sustainable resource use, climate mitigation and adaptation will be studied.
ObjectiveStudents will understand consequences of global change at various spatial and temporal scales, be able to synthesize their knowledge in various disciplines in view of global change issues, know international and national treaties and negotiations concerning management and climate and land use/land cover change, and be able to evaluate different management options, including sustainable resource use and climate mitigation as well as adaptation options.

Students will learn to present scientific information to an audience of educated laymen by preparing an executive summary and an oral presentation to answer a specific scientific question. Students will get extensive feedback from teachers and peers. Thereby, students will also learn how to give constructive feedback to peers.
ContentChanges in climate and land use are major issues that students will be faced with during their working life, independently of where they will work. Thus, an advanced understanding on how global change, biogeochemistry, land use practices, politics, and society interact is critical to act responsibly and work as agricultural or environmental scientists in the future.

Thus, during this course, the effects of global change (i.e., changes in climate, atmospheric chemistry as well as land use and land cover) on forest and agro-ecosystems will be presented and discussed. Effects on ecosystem structure, composition, productivity and biogeochemical cycling, but also on stability of production systems against disturbances will be addressed. Current scenarios and models for coupled human-environmental systems will be discussed. The advantages and disadvantages of different management options will be studied, including the sustainable resource use and climate mitigation as well as adaptation.
Prerequisites / NoticeThis course is based on fundamental knowledge about plant ecophysiology, soil science, and ecology in general.
751-3404-00LNutrient Fluxes in Soil-Plant SystemsW+4 credits4GA. Oberson Dräyer, E. K. Bünemann König
AbstractThe course teaches knowledge and experimental techniques to study pools and processes underlying nutrient fluxes in soil-plant systems. Methods will be learned i) to analyze elements dynamics, ii) to determine the use efficiency by crops of nutrients added with fertilizers, iii) to study the fate of fertilizer nutrients not taken up by the crop and iv) to estimate symbiotic N2 fixation by legumes.
ObjectiveUsing the element nitrogen (N) as model case, the student gets familiarized with techniques to assess the dynamics and availability of nutrients in the soil-plant system and to determine the use efficiency by crops of nutrients added with fertilizers. He/she learns about the use of stable isotope techniques for analyzing nutrient fluxes in soil-plant systems, and about the use of biochemical methods to obtain indicators on such fluxes. He/she is able to evaluate critically the tools used in agricultural or environmental studies dealing with fluxes of elements in soil-plant systems and the interpretation made of the results. Knowledge about processes and pools underlying nutrient cycles in agro-ecosystems will be improved.
The student learns to work in the laboratory within a small team, to organize work in sub-groups, to exchange results obtained by these sub-groups, to look for information outside of the course (e.g. in the library, in the internet), to read and analyze this information critically, to synthesize both, the information from the literature and from the groups, and to present it in a written report and in an oral presentation.
ContentThis course teaches knowledge and methods to analyze the dynamics of elements in soil-plant systems and to determine the use efficiency by crops of nutrients added with mineral and organic fertilizers. It provides knowledge about various techniques (isotopic, chemical, biochemical) that can be used to evaluate
i) content of elements in fertilizers, soils and plants;
ii) availability of elements in soils and fertilizers for plants;
iii) transfer of elements from a fertilizer to a crop;
iv) symbiotic N2 fixation by legumes.
Nitrogen will be used as model case.
The course will start with the discussion of analytical results on elemental contents in an organic fertilizer (e.g. animal manure, plant material) that has previously been labeled with the isotope 15N. To test the N efficiency of this fertilizer, a pot experiment (glasshouse study) will be designed. It will include soils with different characteristics, two test plants and fertilization treatments including the 15N labeled organic fertilizer and appropriate reference treatments.
Soils will be characterized for basic chemical properties and for biochemical characteristics that are related to the N dynamics. Plants will be harvested and analyzed for their dry matter production, their N isotope composition and for elemental contents. From the direct (15N) labeling approach, the proportion of N in the plant derived from the added fertilizers and the percentage of added fertilizer recovered in plant material will be calculated. The 15N analyses in the soil and in the plant material after the crop cycle will allow drawing a balance of the added fertilizer and discussing N losses. The comparison of 15N excess in legume and non-legume test plants will demonstrate the use of the enriched dilution method to estimate symbiotic N2 fixation by the legume.

The experiments are discussed and carried out by the students supervised by group members (two senior scientists, PhDs, laboratory staff). The students carry out the data analysis and report their findings in a written report and in an oral presentation.
Lecture notesDocumentations will be made available during the course.
LiteratureIndications during the course.
Prerequisites / NoticeStudents from the D-AGRL can get travel expenses (Zurich-Eschikon) reimbursed.
751-4003-02LCurrent Topics in Grassland Sciences (FS) Information W+2 credits2SN. Buchmann
AbstractResearch results in grassland will be presented by experienced researchers as well as Ph.D. students and graduate students. Citation classics as well as most recent research results from published or on-going studies will be presented and discussed. Topics will range from plant ecophysiology, biodiversity and biogeochemical cycling to management aspects in agro- and forest ecosystems.
ObjectiveStudents will be able to understand and evaluate experimental design and data interpretation of on-going studies, be able to critically analyze published research results, practice to present and discuss results in the public, and gain a broad knowledge of recent research and current topics in agro- and forest ecosystem sciences.
ContentCitation classics as well as most recent research results from published or on-going studies will be presented and discussed. Topics will range from plant ecophysiology, biodiversity and biogeochemical cycling to management aspects in agro- and forest ecosystems.
Lecture notesnone
Prerequisites / NoticePrerequisites: Attendance of the courses "Öko- und Ertragsphysiologie", "Futterbau", "Graslandsysteme" in the Bachelor or similar courses. Language will be English.
751-5102-00LBiogeochemical ModelingW2 credits2GJ. Lee, J. Six, A. Hofmann, M. Necpalova
AbstractThis class provides an introduction to biogeochemical modeling in the context of agricultural systems. It covers the general background and principles of modeling agroecosystem biogeochemistry. The topical focus is on soil processes. Plant growth and development is included as a side topic. The course consists of lectures and modeling exercises.
ObjectiveThe focus during the modeling exercise sessions is on the testing and application of the biochemical model DAYCENT to agroecosystems. This includes model parameterization, sensitivity analysis, validation, and uncertainty analysis.
Content- Introduction to biogeochemical cycles
- Overview of ecosystem models
- Spatial and temporal scales in modeling
- Century and DAYCENT model
- Controls on biogeochemical processes
- Modeling plant growth and development (DAYCENT)
- Modeling soil organic matter and nutrient dynamics (DAYCENT)
- Model testing and evaluation
- Sensitivity analysis
- Uncertainty analysis
- Bio-economic modeling
- Policy and agent-based modeling
LiteratureSmith, J., Smith, P. (2007) Introduction to environmental modelling. Oxford University Press, 180 p.

Wallach, D., Makowski, D., Jones, J.W., Brun, F. (2014) Working with dynamic crop models: Methods, tools and examples for agriculture and environment. Academic Press, 2nd ed., 487 p.
Prerequisites / NoticeStudents signing up for this course should have a strong interest in modeling.
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