751-5101-00L  Biogeochemistry and Sustainable Management

SemesterAutumn Semester 2023
LecturersI. Feigenwinter, N. Buchmann
Periodicityyearly recurring course
Language of instructionEnglish


751-5101-00 GBiogeochemistry and Sustainable Management2 hrs
Mon10:15-12:00HG E 33.1 »
I. Feigenwinter, N. Buchmann

Catalogue data

AbstractThis course focuses on the interactions between ecology, biogeochemistry and management of agro- and forest ecosystems, thus, coupled human-environmental systems. Students learn how human impacts on ecosystems via management or global change are mainly driven by effects on biogeochemical cycles and thus ecosystem functioning, but also about feedback mechanisms of terrestrial ecosystems.
ObjectiveStudents will analyse and understand the complex and interacting processes of ecology, biogeochemistry and management of agroecosystems, set up a small weather station and program a data logger to collect meteorological variables, analyze large meteorological and flux data sets, and evaluate the impacts of weather events and management practices, based on real-life data. Thus, students will expand their computational competences. Moreover, students will be able to coordinate and work successfully in small (interdisciplinary) teams.
ContentAgroecosystems play a major role in all landscapes, either for production purposes, ecological areas or for recreation. The human impact of any management on the environment is mainly driven by effects on biogeochemical cycles. Effects of global change impacts will also act via biogeochemistry at the soil-biosphere-atmosphere-interface. Thus, ecosystem functioning, i.e., the interactions between ecology, biogeochemistry and management of terrestrial systems, is the science topic for this course.

Students will gain profound knowledge about biogeochemical cycles and greenhouse gas fluxes in managed grassland and/or cropland ecosystems as well as expand their computational competences. Responses of agroecosystems to the environment, i.e., to climate and weather events, but also to management will be studied. Campbell dataloggers will be programmed and a small weather station will be set up. Different meteorological and greenhouse gas flux data will be analysed (using R) and assessed in terms of production, greenhouse gas budgets and carbon sequestration. Thus, students will learn how to collect, analyse and interpret data about the complex interactions of a coupled human-environmental system.

Students will work in groups (3-4 persons per group) with real-life data from a small weather station (dedicated to the course) and from the long-term measurement network Swiss FluxNet. Data from the intensively managed grassland site Chamau will be used to investigate the biosphere-atmosphere exchange of CO2, H2O, N2O and CH4. Functional relationships will be identified, greenhouse gas budgets will be calculated for different time periods and in relation to management over the course of a year.
Lecture notesHandouts will be available in moodle.
Prerequisites / NoticePrerequisites: Attendance of introductory courses in plant ecophysiology, ecology, and grassland or forest sciences. Knowledge of data analyses in R and statistics. Course will be taught in English.
Subject-specific CompetenciesConcepts and Theoriesassessed
Techniques and Technologiesassessed
Method-specific CompetenciesAnalytical Competenciesassessed
Project Managementassessed
Social CompetenciesCooperation and Teamworkassessed
Personal CompetenciesCritical Thinkingassessed
Self-direction and Self-management assessed

Performance assessment

Performance assessment information (valid until the course unit is held again)
Performance assessment as a semester course
ECTS credits2 credits
ExaminersN. Buchmann, I. Feigenwinter
Typegraded semester performance
Language of examinationEnglish
RepetitionRepetition only possible after re-enrolling for the course unit.
Additional information on mode of examinationAttendance and active participation during all parts of the course is expected (min. 80% attendance in presence).

Performance assessment consists of different parts: (1) active participation, (2) individual work (flipped classroom) and (3) group work (3-5 persons per group; flipped classroom, data analysis tasks). The flipped classroom tasks count 40% and include (a) reading parts of three book chapters and answer predefined questions individually; and (b) apply the knowledge from two flipped classroom tasks in two written assignments as a group. Data tasks count 60% and include meteo and flux data analyses and two short reports (in English) as a group.
All tasks are due during the semester.

Group registration is open until Monday, October 2th 2023, 6pm. The entry for group work counts as registration for the performance assessment. Last deregistration date for this course is Thursday, October 5th 2023. Please note that after that date, no deregistration is accepted, and the course will be graded in any case.

Learning materials

Main linkInfos for the course "Biogeochemistry and Sustainable Management"
Only public learning materials are listed.


No information on groups available.


There are no additional restrictions for the registration.

Offered in

Agricultural Sciences MasterCrop- and Grassland ScienceWInformation
Agricultural Sciences MasterAgriculture and EnvironmentW+Information
Environmental Sciences MasterAdvanced Concept ClassesWInformation