What to study in IGCSE Agriculture?

The content of agriculture is designed to encourage a broad, applied and practical science-based study of agriculture.

1. General agriculture
1.1 General principles of land use
1.2 Principles of agricultural economics

2. Soil
2.1 Soil formation
2.2 Soil types, composition, texture and temperature
2.3 Soil fertility
2.4 Soil erosion and soil conservation
2.5 Drainage and irrigation
2.6 Water cycle

3. Principles of plant growth
3.1 Movement of materials through plants
3.2 Reproduction in plants
3.3 Germination

4. Crop production
4.1 Land preparation
4.2 Cultivation of cash crops
5. Crop protection
5.1 Weed control
5.2 Pest control
5.3 Disease control
5.4 The use of farm chemicals

6. Livestock anatomy and physioloy
6.1 Digestion in ruminants and non-ruminants

7. Livestock production and health
7.1 Livestock housing
7.2 Livestock nutrition
7.3 Livestock health
7.4 Study of one ruminant and one non-ruminant animal

8. Pasture management
8.1 Extensive pasture management
8.2 Intensive pasture management
9. Livestock and crop breeding
9.1 Monohybrid inheritance
9.2 Selective breeding in animals and plants

10. Farm structures and tools
10.1 Fencing
10.2 Farm buildings
10.3 Farm water supplies
10.4 Farm tools
10.5 Farm machinery

Content
1 General agriculture
1.1 General principles of land use
1.2 Principles of agricultural economics
(a) describe different forms of land use, including different agricultural systems and farming practices
(rotations, mixed farming and monoculture), forestry and aquaculture
(b) describe and explain the ways in which the uses of land in different areas may be limited by topographical, climatic and other environmental factors
(c) understand that population growth leads to a need for efficient use of land and farm planning
(d) describe organic production, hydroponics and genetically modified (GM) crops and be able to discuss arguments for and against the use of GM crops and organic production
(e) explain the principles of supply and demand, diminishing returns, opportunities and choices facing the farmer, decision-making based on understanding of economic factors.

2 Soil
2.1 Soil formation
2.2 Soil types, composition, texture and temperature
2.3 Soil fertility
2.4 Soil erosion and soil conservation
2.5 Drainage and irrigation
2.6 Water cycle
(a) explain soil formation from parent material by physical, chemical and biological agents of weathering
(b) describe soil profile in terms of topsoil, subsoil and underlying materials
(c) describe soil texture in terms of different sizes of soil particles, sand, silt and clay
(d) understand soil structure, including the importance of forming and maintaining a good crumb structure, the effects of humus and maintenance of organic matter in the soil, oxidation of organic matter and the loss of soil structure causing capping and soil pans
(e) describe different soil types (sandy soils, loam soils and clay soils) and their properties, including
water-holding capacity and drainage
(f) outline soil constituents in terms of mineral matter, organic matter, air, water (free or gravitational water, capillary and hygroscopic water) and living organisms (bacteria, nematodes, fungi and earthworms)
(g) understand the influence of soil temperature on the rate of plant growth, the danger of excessive heat to young seedlings and the danger of frost to some crops, and the methods of reducing the effect of extreme temperatures by mulching of seed beds and shading of transplanted seedlings
(h) explain the importance of the following major nutrients to soil fertility and describe the signs and effects of their deficiency in plants: major nutrients – compounds of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and sulfur
(i) carry out practical soil sampling and tests for soil pH
(j) describe the nitrogen cycle and its importance to soil fertility
(k) explain the importance of legumes and the use of organic fertilisers (manure and compost) in
maintaining good soil structure and fertility
(l) describe the use of inorganic fertilisers (limited to one example each of a fertiliser containing
predominantly phosphorus and predominantly potassium and one example of a compound fertiliser) in maintaining soil fertility
(m) explain how fertilising practices and liming can affect soil pH
(n) describe types of soil erosion, their causes, agents, prevention and control
(o) describe drainage as movement of gravitational water down through the soil and understand the
drainage of waterlogged land by means of ditches and the loss of plant nutrients due to leaching
(p) understand the effects of poor drainage on soil organisms and root respiration
(q) explain the need for irrigation and describe methods of irrigation with the effects on crop yield and quality (details of irrigation programmes for individual crops and of equipment specification are not required)
(r) describe and understand the significance of the water cycle and ground water resources.

3 Principles of plant growth
Content
3.1 Movement of materials through plants
3.2 Reproduction in plants
3.3 Germination
Learning outcomes Candidates should be able to:
(a) describe the distribution and function of root tissues and the structure and function of root hairs
(b) explain the absorption of plant requirements from the soil, including the principles of diffusion, osmosis, the passage of water and dissolved mineral salts through vascular tissues
(c) explain how the structure of a leaf is related to function (cellular detail is not required)
(d) outline gas exchange by diffusion through the stomata
(e) describe photosynthesis in terms of carbon dioxide, water, light and chlorophyll leading to the synthesis of carbohydrates and the production of oxygen
(f) describe the distribution and function of tissues in a stem (dicotyledon only)
(g) define the term translocation as the movement of synthesised food to storage organs and explain the principles of modification of different parts of plants to form food storage organs and the types of food materials stored
(h) explain transpiration in terms of the transpiration stream, loss of water by evaporation and diffusion of water vapour through stomata
(i) describe the effects of temperature, humidity, wind and light intensity on the rate of transpiration
(j) define the term sexual reproduction
(k) describe the structure and functions of the flowers of a maize plant and of a bean plant
(l) define the term pollination
(m) describe the process of fertilisation in a named plant
(n) describe how seeds and fruits are dispersed and explain the importance of dispersal in relation to weed control
(o) describe asexual reproduction from stem tubers (e.g. Irish potato and yam) and from stem cuttings (e.g. sweet potato, cassava and sugar cane)
(p) describe seed structure and the germination of maize and bean (or other legume) and understand the conditions required for germination.

4 Crop production
4.1 Land preparation
4.2 Cultivation of cash crops
(a) describe land preparation by stumping and clearing and soil preparation by primary and secondary
cultivations by hand or machine (e.g. ploughing or digging, harrowing or raking)
(b) name the main types of crop found locally (legumes, roots and tubers, edible fruits and cereals) and their products
(c) describe in detail the cultivation of one crop of local importance in relation to:
• soil and climatic requirements
• soil preparation
• sowing or planting time and method
• choice of suitable cultivars
• seed rate and spacing
• rates of application of fertiliser and manure
• prevention and control of common pests, weeds and diseases
• recognition of crop maturity
• harvesting, yield and storage
• record keeping (including a diary of events and production).

5 Crop protection
5.1 Weed control
5.2 Pest control
5.3 Disease control
5.4 The use of farm chemicals
(a) identify one named local weed species of a crop and describe its harmful effects and the mode of
spread
(b) explain methods of weed control including cultural, mechanical and chemical methods
(c) describe the life cycle, effect and method of spread of one pest from each of the following:
• biting and chewing pests (e.g. grasshoppers, locusts, termites, leaf miners and beetles)
• piercing and sucking pests (e.g. aphids, Bagrada bugs, mealy bugs and scale insects)
• boring pests (e.g. weevils, stalk borer and American bollworm (Helicoverpa armigera))
(d) name and describe the mode of action of chemical controls for pests including contact pesticides and systemic pesticides and understand the appropriate use of these pesticides in controlling pests in the groups listed above
(e) describe biological and biotechnical methods of controlling pests
(f) describe methods of cultural pest control including rotation and catch cropping
(g) describe the mode of infection, harmful effects, prevention and control of one named plant disease
from each of the following groups:
• bacterial diseases, fungal diseases and viral diseases
(h) explain the importance and methods of safe handling of farm chemicals, including the use of specifically designed protective clothing, correct dilution and mixing, precautions before, during and after application and avoidance of pollution when cleaning spraying equipment
(i) explain the importance of safe storage of farm chemicals to include chemicals that are toxic, (e.g.
herbicides, insecticides and flammable e.g. fuels).

6 Livestock anatomy and physiology
6.1 Digestion in ruminants and non-ruminants
Note: The differences between ruminant and non-ruminant digestion should be discussed generally but can be illustrated using relevant examples from local agriculture. Examples of ruminants include sheep, cows and goats. Examples of non-ruminants include pigs and poultry.
6.2 Sexual reproduction in mammals
(a) describe the structure and function of the digestive system of a ruminant and a non-ruminant
(b) describe the processes of digestion and absorption in the alimentary canals of a ruminant and a
non-ruminant (reference to specific enzymes is not required)
(c) describe the reproductive systems (male and female) of a named mammalian farm animal
(d) describe the processes of fertilisation and birth in a named mammalian farm animal
(e) define the terms weaning and lactation and understand the importance of colostrum.

7 Livestock production and health
7.1 Livestock housing
7.2 Livestock nutrition
7.3 Livestock health
7.4 Study of one ruminant and one non-ruminant animal with particular reference to (a) to (k) below
(a) describe suitable housing and living conditions for livestock
(b) describe the care and rearing of young stock
(c) describe the nutritional requirements (including food materials, their nutritional content and signs of deficiency) and feeding practices (including the importance of a balanced ration suited to the age and the stage of development of the livestock)
(d) outline the meaning of the terms maintenance ration and production ration
(e) explain the importance of an adequate, clean water supply
(f) demonstrate stockmanship, including care in the handling of animals, record keeping, including a diary of events and production records
(g) recognise the signs of health and of ill-health in livestock
(h) explain the ways in which infectious and contagious diseases are spread
(i) explain the problems caused by parasites
(j) explain what is meant by the terms notifiable/scheduled diseases
(k) explain the importance of livestock hygiene and the isolation of sick animals.

8 Pasture management
8.1 Extensive pasture management
8.2 Intensive pasture management
(a) describe the vegetation of grazing lands, including grasses and legumes for grazing and bush for
browsing
(b) describe how improved pastures can be established
(c) explain what is meant by the terms rotational grazing, paddock and zero grazing, unenclosed and
enclosed grazing systems and intensive and extensive grazing
(d) describe extensive management methods, including the importance of stocking rates, carrying capacity and the dangers of overstocking, bush control and the use and misuse of fire
(e) explain how pasture utilisation can be improved by fencing and rotational grazing.

9 Livestock and crop breeding
9.1 Monohybrid inheritance
9.2 Selective breeding in animals and plants
(a) define the terms chromosome, gene, allele, homozygous, heterozygous, dominant and recessive
(b) calculate and predict the results of simple genetic crosses involving 1:1 and 3:1 ratios
(c) explain the meaning of the terms genotype and phenotype and assess their importance in animal and plant breeding
(d) describe how breeding can improve yield, disease resistance, hardiness and appearance in livestock and in crops
(e) understand the role of artificial selection in the production of improved varieties of animals and plants of economic importance
(f) understand the benefits of artificial insemination
(g) understand the differences between selective crop breeding and genetically modified (GM) crops.

10 Farm structures and tools
10.1 Fencing
10.2 Farm buildings
10.3 Farm water supplies
10.4 Farm tools
10.5 Farm machinery
(a) describe the treatment of fencing posts, methods of fence construction, types of fence suitable for
different purposes, the use of hedges and windbreaks
(b) outline the properties and uses of wood, concrete blocks, metal, stone, brick, earth and thatch in the construction of farm buildings
(c) list suitable sources of water for human consumption, for livestock and for irrigation
(d) outline methods of water treatment by settling and filtration
(e) outline suitable methods of construction of storage dams to resist water pressure, which increases with depth
(f) describe the use of storage tanks, the distribution of water through pipe systems and simple plumbing, sufficient for maintaining a plastic pipe system, including pipe-joining and fitting of tap washers
(g) describe the use and maintenance of saw, hammer, screwdriver, file, spanner, sprayers and hand tools for cultivation
(h) explain the advantages and disadvantages of farm mechanisation
(i) describe the use and maintenance of mould-board plough, cultivator, harrow, planter and ridger (either ox- or donkey- or tractor-drawn).

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