Improving Food Production with Agricultural Technology and Plant Biotechnology

This free online course aimed at 16 to 19-year-olds is hosted on the learning platform FutureLearn, and provides 9 hours of learning over 3 weeks. Students can choose when to take the course, meaning they can fit it alongside other studies and extracurricular activities.
Designed to extend beyond curricula, the course takes students on a journey through the plant-based food production system, from growing crops to harvesting and processing them. Through video case studies, interviews with experts, discussion boards and an interactive game, students will discover how science and technology are innovating food production to solve some of the biggest challenges in global food security.
Each week of the course covers a different topic:
  • Plant Biotechnology: How can genetics protect crops from pests and diseases? What about the alternatives, like using other insects to kill pests? This week includes case studies on how genetics could be used to improve wheat yields, and how bumblebees can be commercially produced to pollinate crops.


  • Agricultural Technology: What high-tech machines are currently being used on fields, and what will future farms look like? This week features a weeding machine that uses AI to recognise weeds, cutting-edge research into autonomous farm robots, and an interactive game on the history of agriculture.


  • Applied Food Science: What processes do crops go through before they reach the supermarket? Around one third of food produced for humans is wasted – how can science help us to re-use this waste? This section includes a case study of turning fruit pomace left over from making juice into pectin.


The course goes live again on 19th September 2022 and runs for 3 weeks. During these 3 weeks, mentors (PhD students in relevant subjects) will be online to interact with learners. In the Download Resources section, you can download an e-flyer for teachers with more information, as well as an e-flyer you can send to students (it can also be printed and handed out).
The course was funded by EIT Food, Europe’s leading food innovation initiative. Its development was led by the Gatsby Plant Science Education Programme based at the University of Cambridge, alongside the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and the Spanish National Research Council, John Deere, Koppert Biological Systems and Herbstreith & Fox.
This activity has received funding from EIT Food, the innovation community on Food of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the EU, under the Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. 

Part of...