Improving food production with agricultural technology and plant biotechnology; free online course

Learn how to address challenges in growing, harvesting, and processing food and build your knowledge of food production challenges and technology with this FutureLearn online course for 16-19 year olds studying biology.

Are you inspired to join the next generation of scientists and tackle challenges in food security?

On this course, you will get access to innovative research solutions that address some of the biggest issues in food, agriculture, and plant biotechnology.

You will become more familiar with the journey plants take, from crops in the field to food on your plate. You will explore the importance of scientific research in food security and discover the new technologies that are transforming agriculture.

The course starts on 2 March 2020 and mentors will be online to interact with learners until 22 March 2020. Participants will be able to join the course up until 4 May 2020.

By the end of the course, you’ll be able to…

  • Identify the challenges involved in growing, harvesting and processing plant-based food
  • Explore the role of scientific research in addressing challenges in food security
  • Debate the opportunities and limitations of new technologies
  • Reflect on consumer trust in the science and technology involved in bringing food from the field to the supermarket

Week One: Plant biotechnology

  • Solutions to food production challenges (pathology, pests, environmental stress, climate change) e.g. genetics
  • Alternatives to plant biotechnology e.g. biological control

Week Two: Agricultural technology

  • Challenges in the field e.g. soil structure, climate, yield, disease
  • A history of agricultural technology and today’s new technologies e.g. cutting-edge precision agriculture

Week Three: Food science

  • Solutions for altering plant-based foods to create supermarket food products
  • Examples of post-harvest food processing, e.g. creating pectins and sweeteners out of fruit by-product

Course tutors

  • Thomas Engel -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
  • Luis Vázquez – Associate Professor in Food Science and Technology at UAM (Spain). I develop my research activity at CIAL Institute in Biocatalysis, Green Processes, Bioactive Lipids, Food Chemistry, etc
  • Cristobal Uauy – Group Leader at the John Innes Centre. My lab uses genetics and genomics to improve yield and quality components in wheat

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