About this Course
Sound economic thinking is crucial for farmers because they depend on good economic decision making to survive. Governments depend on economic information to make good policy decisions on behalf of the community. This course will help you to contribute to better decision making by farmers, or by agencies servicing agriculture, and it will help you to understand why farmers respond to policies and economic opportunities in the ways they do. You can use this course to improve your skills and knowledge, and to assess whether this is a subject that you'd like to study further. The course includes high-quality video lectures, interviews with experts, demonstrations of how to build economic models in spreadsheets, practice quizzes, and a range of recommended readings and optional readings. Assessment is by a final exam. The key economic principles that we’ll learn about can help us understand changes that have occurred in agriculture, and support improved decision making about things like agricultural production methods, agricultural input levels, resource conservation, and the balance between agricultural production and its environmental impacts. There are literally thousands of agricultural economists around the world who work on these issues, so there is a wealth of knowledge to draw on for the course. Watch a brief video about our course here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_IeYGpeqV8
Globe

100% online course

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Beginner Level

Beginner Level

Clock

Approx. 18 hours to complete

Suggested: 7 weeks of study, 2-3 hours/week
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English
Globe

100% online course

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Beginner Level

Beginner Level

Clock

Approx. 18 hours to complete

Suggested: 7 weeks of study, 2-3 hours/week
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course

1

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

Agricultural production and prices, and agriculture’s reliance on natural resources

Week 1 provides a history of agricultural production and prices, an examination into the reasons behind changes in production and prices, and discussions of the 2007 global food crisis and agriculture’s usage of resources. ...
Reading
11 videos (Total 63 min), 9 readings, 1 quiz
Video11 videos
Video - History of agricultural production and prices2m
Video - Agricultural products' supply4m
Video - Agricultural products' demand6m
Video - The 2007 food price crisis12m
Video - Food security4m
Video - Resource usage 1: Land and soils4m
Video - Resource usage 2: Water4m
Video - Resource usage 3: Nutrients4m
Video - Resource usage 4: Pesticides4m
Video - Interview - Kadambot Siddique, Institute of Agriculture, University of Western Australia8m
Reading9 readings
Optional Viewing - The Agricultural Revolution: Crash Course World History #110m
Optional Reading - Economics Basics: Supply and Demand10m
Recommended Reading - Pannell Discussion 266: Supply and Demand: The Wool Crisis10m
Recommended Reading - Pannell Discussions 178: Betting on Wheat Prices10m
Recommended Reading - Pannell Discussions 284: The world food price crisis of 200710m
Optional Viewing - The Corn Controversy: Food or Fuel10m
Optional Reading - The Food Price Crisis of 2007/2008: Evidence and Implications10m
Optional Reading - Causes of the 2007-2008 global food crisis identified10m
Optional Reading - The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World10m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Quiz - Agricultural production and prices, and agriculture’s reliance on natural resources20m

2

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

Resource and environmental challenges facing agriculture

Week 2 addresses the agricultural issues of water availability, peak phosphorus, herbicide resistance, and climate change....
Reading
9 videos (Total 64 min), 8 readings, 1 quiz
Video9 videos
Video - Pesticide bans5m
Video - Dryland salinity8m
Video - Resource exhaustibility: phosphorus supply12m
Video - Resource exhaustibility: water shortages5m
Video - Resource exhaustibility: herbicide resistance9m
Video - Climate change4m
Video - Climate policy and adaptation4m
Video - Interview - Michael Robertson, CSIRO8m
Reading8 readings
Recommended Reading - Pannell Discussion 261: Agricultural water pollution10m
Optional Reading - Protecting Water Quality from Agricultural Runoff10m
Optional Reading - Pannell Discussion 26: Dryland salinity in Australia10m
Optional Reading - Phosphorus: Essential to Life – Are we running out?10m
Optional Reading - Can Australia overcome its Water Scarcity Problems?10m
Optional Reading - Pannell Discussion 57: Herbicide resistance: Does prevention pay?10m
Optional Reading - Pannell Discussions 230: Future climate change and wheat yields in Western Australia10m
Recommended Reading - Pannell Discussions 168: Telling farmers how to adapt to climate change10m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Resource and environmental challenges facing agriculture20m

3

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

The economics of agricultural inputs

Week 3 looks at the relationship between inputs and outputs, the optimal level of an input, the question of pollution from inputs, and flat payoff functions....
Reading
9 videos (Total 56 min), 4 readings, 1 quiz
Video9 videos
Video - Fertiliser and Crop Yield5m
Video - Production functions4m
Video - Profit maximisation7m
Video - Building a spreadsheet to maximise profit11m
Video - Effects of price and yield changes on optimal fertiliser use4m
Video - Considering pollution in input decisions7m
Video - Flat payoff functions6m
Video - Interview - David Brown, Farmer, Burracoppin, Western Australia5m
Reading4 readings
Optional reading - world data on fertilizers10m
Recommended Reading - Pannell Discussion 277: Perfection isn’t best10m
Optional Reading - Determining Optimum Nitrogen Application Rates for Corn10m
Recommended Reading - Pannell Discussions 88: Flat-earth economics10m
Quiz1 practice exercises
The economics of agricultural inputs20m

4

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

The economics of land conservation

Week 4 focuses on evaluating land conservation practices, weighing benefits and costs correctly, non-economic factors, and provides an example in conservation agriculture....
Reading
9 videos (Total 84 min), 6 readings, 1 quiz
Video9 videos
Video - Benefits and costs of resource conservation over time5m
Video - Accounting for time12m
Video - Discounting5m
Video - Building a spreadsheet for discounting benefits and costs10m
Video - Case study: conservation agriculture17m
Video - Drivers of farmers’ decision-making11m
Video - Interview - Mike McFarlane, farmer, Doodlakine, Western Australia9m
Video - Interview - Greg Shea, WA Department of Agriculture and Food6m
Reading6 readings
Recommended Reading - Pannell Discussions 33: Time is money10m
Recommended Reading - Pannell Discussions 268: Conservation Agriculture in Developing Countries10m
Optional Reading - The farm-level economics of conservation agriculture for resource-poor farmers.10m
Recommended Reading - Adoption of conservation practices by rural landholders10m
Optional Reading - Pannell Discussions 203: Predicting adoption of new farming practices10m
Help with the calculations for Week 4 Quiz10m
Quiz1 practice exercises
The economics of land conservation20m

5

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

The economics of agri-environmental projects

Week 5 discusses the importance of extending economics beyond the farm gate, characteristics of agri-environmental projects, Benefit: Cost Analysis, and provides an example with Gippsland Lakes....
Reading
8 videos (Total 54 min), 7 readings, 1 quiz
Video8 videos
Video - Extending economics beyond the farm4m
Video - Characteristics of environmental projects7m
Video - Benefit: Cost Analysis8m
Video - Benefit: Cost Ratio7m
Video - Case study: The Gippsland Lakes6m
Video - A helpful tool: INFFER3m
Video - Interview - Marit Kragt, School of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Western Australia10m
Reading7 readings
Optional Viewing - A cleaner Baltic Sea by improved agricultural productivity10m
Optional Viewing - Positive benefits flow from agri-environment funding support in Scotland10m
Recommended Viewing - Intro to Cost-Benefit Analysis10m
Optional Reading - Simple Introduction to Cost-Benefit Analysis10m
Recommended Reading - When ranking environmental projects, mixing a little theory, logic and common sense leads to better outcomes10m
Recommended Reading - Pannell Discussion 182: Increasing marginal costs of environmental projects10m
Optional Reading - INFFER (Investment Framework for Environmental Resources)10m
Quiz1 practice exercises
The economics of agri-environmental projects20m

6

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

Government policies in agriculture

Week 6 ties up the course through discussion of government policies that support agriculture, policies that protect the rural environment, policies with problems, and justifications for agricultural policy....
Reading
8 videos (Total 50 min), 9 readings, 1 quiz
Video8 videos
Video - Policies to support agricultural production6m
Video - Policies for environmental protection in agriculture3m
Video - Agricultural policy problems: Price support8m
Video - Agricultural policy problems: Biofuels7m
Video - Justifications for agricultural policy8m
Video - Course wrap-up3m
Video - Interview - Ross Kingwell, Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre8m
Reading9 readings
Optional Viewing - Fields of Gold: Lifting the Veil on Europe's Farm Subsidies10m
Optional Reading - Pannell Discussions 259: Increasing environmental benefits10m
Recommended Reading - Pannell Discussion 266: Supply and Demand: The Wool Crisis10m
Recommended Reading - Severing the Link between Farm Program Payments and Farm Production: Motivation, International Efforts, and Lessons10m
Recommended Reading - The backlash against biofuels10m
Optional Reading - The Trouble with Biofuels: Costs and Consequences of Expanding Biofuel Use in the United Kingdom10m
Optional Reading - Pannell Discussions 22: Public goods and public benefits in NRM10m
Optional Reading - Pannell Discussions 35: Externalities and market failure10m
Further information on studying agricultural economics, natural resource economics or environmental economics at the University of Western Australia10m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Government policies in agriculture20m

7

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

Final Exam

...
Reading
1 quiz
Quiz1 practice exercises
Final Exam0m
4.7
Direction Signs

40%

started a new career after completing these courses
Briefcase

83%

got a tangible career benefit from this course
Money

18%

got a pay increase or promotion

Top Reviews

By NTDec 22nd 2017

Excellent course and presenter! I is very useful to revise important economic and environmental concepts and also to learn more agriculture. It is very useful for me.\n\nThanks Prof. David

By RCDec 19th 2016

Interesting course on Agriculture and Economics, very useful to revise important economic concepts and also to learn more about agriculture. Highly recommended.

Instructors

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Professor David Pannell, BSc(Agric), BEc, PhD

Head of School of Agricultural and Resource Economics
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Jacob Hawkins, BA(Biol), MESM, PhD

School of Agricultural and Resource Economics

About University of Western Australia

The University of Western Australia (UWA) was established in 1911 and continues to set the standard for other West Australian universities. Staff, students and graduates from the University have been recognised at state, national and international levels, and UWA continues to confirm its standing as one of Australia’s leading research-intensive universities. UWA's leaders and researchers work in partnership with three domestic and international networks, the Group of Eight, Matariki and the Worldwide Universities Network....

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