UCD has added a new entry to its agricultural science offering in 2021. Crop Science has been added to the degree programme list.

Previously, students with an interest in crops generally enrolled in the Animal and Crop Production degree programme, but those with an interest in a career in agronomy, can now take a more focused route.

The new programme is the only third level Crop Science degree programme offered in Ireland.

The graduates will meet the increasing demand for highly-qualified graduates in the area of crop agronomy. The degree plans to address a skills shortage in the sector, which was identified by the Department of Agriculture.

The tillage sector has a huge role to play in the future of Irish agriculture and in meeting the needs of consumers. The growth in the distilling and brewing sectors, as well as the demand for food-grade oats, requires excellent agronomic management, as well as supply chain management. Premium markets need to be developed and retained.

Students will also learn about the positives that the sector can have on climate change, carbon sequestration and the production of locally-sourced protein for the human and animal food chains.

What will students study?

For those familiar with the agricultural science degree programme first year will remain largely the same with a grounding in the basic sciences. Year 2 will see the addition of agricultural botany and arable crop management, as well as the core subjects of soil science and microbiology.

Year 3 then becomes more focused. Students will study plant diseases, pesticide use, integrated pest management, control of weeds, soil science and nutrition, as well as completing professional work experience.

Year 4 will see students study farm business management, cereal production, organic agriculture, forage production, emerging crop pathogens, climate and soils and plants and diets.

Consus Project

In recent years, UCD has reaffirmed its commitment to Crop Science as it partnered with Origin Enterprises to develop the next generation of digital tools for use by farmers and agronomists under the Consus Project.

The programme focuses on the application of precision agriculture to crop production which can lead to more efficient food production with lower environmental impacts. Research from this programme will help to inform teaching on the new Crop Science degree programme.