University of Liege | Version française
Study programmes 2013-2014Last update : 1/10/2013
Version 2012-2013
AGRO0004-1  Agro-pastoralism and forage productions, part 1

Duration :  24h Th
Number of credits :  
Required preliminary complements to register in the Advanced Master in Development, Environment and Communities2
Required preliminary complements to register in the Advanced Master in Rural Economics and Sociology2
Lecturer :  N...
Language(s) of instruction :  
French language
Course contents :  
This course AGRO0004-1 and AGRO0004-2 is an introduction to the range management science and artificial grasslands as forage resource for domesticated ruminants.
Ranges convert the energy from the sun and the atmospheric nitrogen into forage biomass available for ruminants. They are a resource that has been used by Man for millenia, from pastoral societies to ranch managers, to provide food and non-food products as well as services. Range management is a unique science dealing with the interface between plant and animal, rather than the plant or the animal alone. The key element in range management is manipulating the animal's grazing activities to maintain or improve range plant and animal productions. Therefore, the range manager must always combine his knowledge in management and feeding of wild and domesticated species, in climatology, hydrology, soil science, mapping, forestry, taxonomy, plant physiology, plant ecology, economy, etc. This course is at the image of the bio-engineer you become: multidisciplinary. This course focusses on tropical natural and semi-natural grasslands management, but its principles apply to forage-based systems in temperate areas and sowed meadows. Examples from temperate regions are even often used to illustrate this course.
The course is divided in two parts:
Part 1 AGRO0004-1 is given as a lecture and covers more theoretical concepts related to the tropical environment, the origin and the botany of range plants, grazing resistance mechanisms, germination and physiology of growth of plants and grass communities, range fertilisation, forage nutritive value. Part 1 ends with a review of some grasses and legumes that plays an important role as forage ressource in the tropics.
Part 2 AGRO0004-2 combines lecturing to conferences, exercices, field trips and practical exercices in a pasture in Gembloux, in order to teach you some methods to characterise ranges and the principles of extensive range management.
Learning outcomes of the course :  
At the end of this course, you will:
  • understand how biotic and abiotic elements influence the composition of forage plants and the ranges, their growth and their nutritive value;
  • understand how to manage a range to maintain a long term production potential using the appropriate tools;
  • be able to identify grass species from tropical areas and to know their usefulness for animal production;
  • be able to measure the quality of forage species and pastures, to measure their production potential and determine their theoretical carrying capacity.
Prerequisites and co-requisites/ Recommended optional programme components :  
In order to properly understand the course, we advise you to have notions in botany, plant physiology, soil science and animal feeding. To attend Part 2 AGRO0004-2, it is compulsery to have attended Part 1 AGRO0004-1. Nonetheless, you can follow part 1 only.
Planned learning activities and teaching methods :  
Part 1 of the course is maily a lecture using many pictures and figures from scientific papers as well as some videos in English.
Part 2 has still some lectures, but you will also make a floristic survey of a pasture in Gembloux, have some conferences, in class exercices and field trips (CRA-W in Libramont and UGent). You will have to yield a report on the survey.
We wish the course was interacive so we invite you to speak when we try to interact with the audience during the lectures. Please, feel also free to interrupt us at any time if you have any question. Besides the videos in English, some parts of the course are given jointly with the Ghent University. During these lectures, Veerle Fievez (UGent) and ourselves will speak to the audience in English.
Mode of delivery (face-to-face ; distance-learning) :  
Part 1 AGRO0004-1: Lectures : 24h Part 2 AGRO0004-2: Lectures and exercices in the classroom: 8h, on field exercice: 8h, field trips: 8h
Recommended or required readings :  
You have acess to the slides that are shown during the classes. You are likely to be assessed on any topic covered in these slides. The herbarium with the grass you can use to train identification are available in my office at any time during working days on business hours. If I'm not in my office, you can ask the secretary to open it for you. You are free to take pictures, but please don't move the herbarium out from my office as it is very precious and very fragile.
The course is of course not exhaustive. If wish to go into further details now or during your future professional life, I recommend you as first reading the following references:
For questions related to botany and physiology of forage plants :
Barnes RF, Nelson CJ, Moore KJ, Collins M. 2007. Forages. The science of grassland agriculture. Volume II. 6th Ed. Blackwell publishing. Ames.
For range management :
Holechek JL, Pieper RD, Herbel CH. 2011. Range management. Principles and practices. 6th Ed. Prentice Hall. Boston.
For the description of tropical forages, I recommend to visit the following website :
Assessment methods and criteria :  
If you follow part 1 AGRO0004-1 only, you will be assessed during an written and oral exam. One question will regard the identification of a grass genus in a herbarium and the usefulness of it in animal production.
If you follow part 1 AGRO0004-1 and part 2 AGRO0004-2, the examination described above will count for 90% of the final mark. The report on the practicals will count for 10%. This report must be sent by email to Christine Poelaert (, the assistant in charge of the practicals, no later than May 28 2012. Late reports will not be considered and a mark of 0/20 will be automatically ascribed to the report.
Work placement(s) :  
Organizational remarks :  
The teacher's notes are available as the course starts. Nevertheles, we try to improve them constantly, so you might notice some modifications during the year.
Contacts :  
Feel free to contact the teacher for any question regarding the course. I am available during the class. If you want to see me at all other times, please make an appointment by calling +32 81 62 26 09 or by sending me an email (
If you have questions regarding the practicals, you can also contact the assistant Christine Poelaert (+32 81 62 21 17;

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