PlantwisePlus Blog

In this blog, Manfred Grossrieder, Integrated Crop Management Advisor for CABI, answers questions fielded on social media about the Certificates for Advanced Studies in Integrated Crop Management (CAS-ICM). The courses, which start in September with an application deadline for 16 June 2024, address today’s critical agricultural and environmental challenges. These include increasing pesticide usage and associated risks, loss of biodiversity, soil degradation, and the effects of changing climate. 

What is a CAS-ICM?

CAS-ICM is a university level course, which we are offering together with the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland. So, typically a CAS is a course that is focusing on specific topics – in our case, on ICM and it is providing lots of in-depth knowledge which is practically applicable. Furthermore, our course in ICM is based on the in-depth knowledge and experience of the CAS-ICM course tutors in implementing integrated crop management.

What are the three CAS-ICM courses?

CAS 1 is on sustainable production practices. This is the technical foundation – including the various tools we have available which are introduced in this course. CAS 2 focuses on understanding context and support strategies to make integrated crop management (ICM) work. This is about having ICM implemented in the field. Then we have CAS 3 which is on biological control and ecosystem services.

I only have a school level certificate in agriculture. Will I be accepted onto the course?

Usually, you would need a bachelor’s degree to do a CAS course. Since this is a postgraduate course, this would be required. However, if you have other comparable education and some years of practical experience in agriculture, then you would be accepted on the course. If you are unsure about your current qualification, please contact us.

How long is the CAS-ICM, and how much does it cost?

You will have to allocate about 10 hours of work per week for the course over nine months. The cost of the course is around 4,000 Swiss francs. That is equivalent to 4,400 U.S. dollars.

What scholarship options are available for the CAS-ICM?

For this course we are very much relying on you to organize the funding. However, there are options around and we will be helping you to identify some of them. Apart from that, CABI is interested to make scholarship opportunities available for you, and we are also in contact with donors and looking to find options for scholarships that we can then allocate to you.

What support/technical equipment is required to do the online course?

To do the online course, we still highly recommend that you have access either to a desktop or laptop computer with an internet connection. There is also an app available which you can download from our learning platform accessible via your smartphone, but it is recommended to work on a larger screen due to the type of exercises and reading required during the CAS course.

How will students be assessed throughout the course?

On each topic of the course, you will have an assessment which you will have to pass to qualify for the CAS-ICM. We will be grading you in the Swiss system, which is graded between one and six, six being the highest grade, and four as a passing grade.

What career opportunities are there for me by enrolling in this course?

We have some clear indications that ICM and the other topics covered in the course are helpful towards the career of participants. From our previous course, MAS-ICM, over 50% of the participants had a distinct career step. In the current online version, covering the same topics, we have positive feedback from various students. They tell us that what we presented and were teaching was useful. Former students have told us they were immediately able to include some of this new knowledge into their work life. We hope that these positive contributions will provide definitive career steps after the completion of this course.

Manfred Grossrieder engages with MAS-ICM (predecessor to CAS-ICM) students in 2018 (©CABI)
Manfred Grossrieder engages with MAS-ICM (predecessor to CAS-ICM) students in 2018 (©CABI)

What motivated you to get involved in the course?

I am very interested in education. I have worked as a teacher before, with children and did later more technical education. For me, it was a logical step to work in the agricultural specialist field with my background. We had already been working with partner organizations in many countries across the world. We thought, why not turn it around and offer this kind of education from here in Switzerland and allow people from across the world to join.

What feedback do you get from current students?

There has been positive feedback from students on the course. CAS-ICM is now in its third round. Of course, the most important thing to hear from students is that they feel the course is really addressing their needs. That the topics that we cover are making a lot of sense for them considering their work-life balance. And we have many comments about newly acquired content that students were immediately able to use in their work life. We will continue to ensure that this course stays relevant for anybody working in agriculture.

What is ICM and how does it differ from conventional farming methods ?

It’s not a surprise that we are offering several courses to answer this question for you! However, I think I would go back to one of the definitions of ICM and I think ‘the conservation and enhancement of natural resources while producing food’ is an important aspect. We would try to ‘produce food on an economically viable and sustainable foundation’.

Comparing with a conventional system depends very much on how the conventional system looks like. But I think the big difference with an ICM approach is that we are trying to understand the interactions in our system. Interactions between the biology of crop and potential thread, the environment and the crop management measure that is applied. We are integrating responses to these various interactions.

Further information:

Watch the full ask the tutor Q&A: Certificates in Advanced Studies in Integrated Crop Management with Manfred Grossrieder:

Apply for CAS-ICM, here (deadline 16 June 2024)

Download the CAS ICM course flyer, here

All photos: ©CABI

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