Plant Sciences deals with crop production ranging from plant breeding to the development of sustainable systems for the production of food, pharmaceuticals and renewable resources. It is linked with a professional sector that is highly important to the world economy. The Plant Sciences programme at Wageningen University and Research focuses on the principles of plant breeding, agro-ecology and plant pathology and the integration of these disciplines to provide healthy plants for food and non-food applications.
Technological aspects of crop production are combined with environmental, quality, socio-economic and logistic aspects. Students learn to apply their knowledge to develop integrated approaches for sustainable plant production.
Graduates in Plant Sciences have excellent career prospects and most of them receive job offers before graduation. They are university-trained professionals who are able to contribute to the sustainable development of plant production at various integration levels based on their knowledge of fundamental and applied plant sciences and their interdisciplinary approach.
Graduates with a research focus are employed at universities, research institutes and plant breeding or agribusiness companies. Other job opportunities are in management, policy, consultancy and communication in agribusiness and (non-) governmental organisations.
Sound knowledge of crop science is essential to develop appropriate cultivation methods for reliable food supply, while considering sustainability and biodiversity.An integrated approach is crucial to studying plant production at various levels (plant, crop, farm, region). This requires a sound understanding of physical, chemical, and physiological aspects of crop growth. Modelling and simulation are used to analyse yield constraints and to improve efficiency.
Greenhouse horticulture is a unique agro-system that allows significant control of (a-) biotic factors through protected cultivation. The advances in this field are based on technological innovations. This specialisation combines quality of production with post-harvest physiology and focuses on production, quality and chain management of vegetables and ornamentals.
The development of sustainable agro-ecosystems requires understanding of the complex relationships between soil health, cultivation practices and nutrient kinetics. Other aspects include the interaction between agriculture and nature, and competing claims on productive land worldwide and climate change. This specialisation provides knowledge and tools to understand the interactions between biotic and abiotic factors in agro-ecosystems to facilitate diverse agricultural demands.
Plant Breeding is crucial in the development of varieties that meet current demands regarding yield, disease resistance, quality and sustainable production. This specialisation ranges from molecular genetics to the production level and provides knowledge of the physiology and genetics of cultivated plants. Molecular techniques add to the rapid identification of relevant genes and are essential for accelerating selection by marker-assisted breeding.
Investments made in crop production need to be protected from losses caused by biotic stress. Integrated pest management provides protection by combining genetic resistance, cultivation practices and biological control. This specialisation focuses on transmission mechanisms, ecology of insects, nematodes and weeds, and epidemiology of fungi and viruses. Knowledge of molecular and ecological bio-interactions establishes the basis for integrated pest management and resistance breeding.
The specialisation Biomass Production and Carbon Capture within Plant Sciences focuses on the knowledge of plant physiology and development, genetics and breeding, and plant biotechnology for biomass production. Biomass can be produced in the field, in greenhouses, in the sea as well as in forests.
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