AP2A69-Principles of Horticulture and Crop Production

Module Provider: School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2020/1

Module Convenor: Mr Luke Bell

Email: luke.bell@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

You’ll learn about the main principles of horticultural crop production including: effects of climate, soil management, crop propagation and establishment, crop rotation, effects of spacing and spatial arrangement of crops, production methods for protected crops and postharvest storage of horticultural produce. You’ll also develop an understanding of the main methods used by specific sections of the horticulture industry including for tomatoes, lettuces, onions, strawberries, Brassicas, apples, beans, peas, and carrots. You’ll learn by a combination of lectures, practicals and field visits.


To provide knowledge of the principles of horticultural production used by specific sections of the horticulture industry, and knowledge of specific crops and their methods of production. Content of the first semester includes: location of crop production in relation to climatic and edaphic factors; principles of soil cultivation, mineral nutrients, improving the nutritional status of soils; crop propagation and establishment; principles of crop rotation; effects of spacing and spatial arrangement on crop growth and yield. Irrigation of field crops; training methods for fruit crops; production methods for protected crops; and postharvest storage of horticultural produce. In the second semester, individual crop types will be looked at in specific detail; such as: tomatoes, lettuces, onions, strawberries, Brassicas, apples, beans, peas, and carrots.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able to:

  • Describe the horticulture industry of the UK and how fruits and vegetables are made available to consumers year-round

  • Understand and describe the reasons for seasonal production of horticultural crops in the UK (e.g. climate & soil type) and where produce comes from out of season.

  • Understand the principles of soil cultivation, mineral nutrition and imp roving the nutritional status of soils.

  • Describe the methods used in the production of a range of horticultural crops.

  • Explain the reasons why different cultivation approaches are required for different crops.

  • Critically evaluate the factors that dictate production techniques.

  • Gain knowledge about future developments within the horticulture industry.

  • Design and create a crop production experiment using different spac ing arrangements.


Additional outcomes:

Development of experimental design, presentation, and research skills

Outline content:

Autumn semester – this is indicative content only:


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Grow your own leafy vegetables I

Week 1

Lecture 1

Introduction // UK horticultural production statistics


Practical 1

Tour of vegetable/greenhouse demonstration area and CEL facilities


Week 2

Lecture 2

Growth & development of horticultural crops


Field trip 1

Field trip


Week 3

Lecture 3

Horticultural plant propagation methods


Practical 2


Week 4

Lecture 4

Soils for horticultural production & principles of soil cultivation


Week 5

Lecture 5

Improving the nutritional status of soils & crop nutrition


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Week 6




Week 7

Lecture 6

Hy droponic cultivation & nutrition of protected crops


Week 8

Lecture 7

Impact of climate change on vegetable and fruit production


Week 9

Lecture 8

Pests and diseases of horticultural crops


Practical 3

Grow your own leafy vegetables II (assessed practical report)


Week 10

Lecture 9

Plant breeding and selection of horticultural c rops


Lecture 10

Fruit crop production


Week 11

Lecture 11

History of glasshouse design


Lecture 12

Harvesting and storage of horticultural produce



Spring semester:


Week 1

Lecture 13

Cucurbit production


Week 2

Lecture 14

Early potato production


Lecture 15

Tomato & pepper production


Week 3

Lecture 16

Lettuce production

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Week 4

Lecture 17

Onion production & postharvest storage


Practical 4

Strawberry production


Week 5

Lecture 18

Brassica, radish & rocket production


Week 6




Week 7

Lecture 19

Beet, chard & spinach production


Lecture 20

Perennial crop production


Week 8

Lecture 21

Top fruit production & grafting


Seminar 1

Presentatio n seminar (preparation session)


Week 9

Lecture 22

Genetic resources and varieties of the National Fruit Collection


Field Trip 2

Field trip


Week 10

Lecture 23

Bean & pea production


Seminar 2

Presentation seminar (assessed)


Week 11

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Lecture 24

Carrot production


AD – Andrew Daymond

CT – Carrie-Anne Twitchen

LB – Luke Bell

LD – Liam Doherty

MO – Matthew Ordidge<

Global context:

This module will give students comprehensive knowledge of diverse crops and concepts used in modern horticultural production. Lectures will centre predominantly upon UK production, but also how Britain is increasingly reliant upon imports from overseas in order to meet year-round consumer demands for fresh fruits and vegetables. International students will gain insight into UK production methods, and gain knowledge of how this fits into a global context. The module will also address the implications of global issues such as climate change on UK horticultural production and international supply.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Content will be delivered via interactive lectures and seminars, as well as practical classes and field trips to a local farm and UK fruit collection. Students will have the opportunity to design and create a plant spacing experiment using leafy vegetables, to understand the effect this has on crop yields and morphology. This will give them practical experience in sowing and growing plants and designing a scientific experiment. They will also be supervised in data collection and analysis and prepare a written report of their findings. They will also prepare a group presentation on a crop production method of their choice for assessment. This will be done in a supervised way through preparative seminar sessions to support students in their research and organisation.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 24 24
Seminars 4
Demonstration 2 2
Practicals classes and workshops 4
External visits 6 6
Guided independent study:      
    Wider reading (independent) 20 20
    Wider reading (directed) 20 20
    Exam revision/preparation 20 20
    Preparation for presentations 4
    Preparation of practical report 4
Total hours by term 0
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 60
Written assignment including essay 20
Oral assessment and presentation 20

Summative assessment- Examinations:

One, two-hour exam

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

One written report based on practical class experiment (1,500 words) – week 11, Autumn term

One group presentation (10 minutes per group) – week 10, Spring semester

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:

The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.
The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

Assessment requirements for a pass:

Overall mark of 40%

Reassessment arrangements:

By examination.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):



  1. Required text books


  1. Specialist equipment or materials


  1. Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear


  1. Printing and binding


  1. Computers and devices with a particular specification


  1. Travel, accommodation and subsistence


Last updated: 27 July 2020


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