The CABI Academy, an online learning platform that addresses a range of agricultural challenges faced by smallholder farmers around the world, has launched two new free short courses in water and soil management.

CABI’s expertise in crop health, agricultural advisory services and digital development is brought together through the CABI Academy to create a range of online training courses and certifications that develop and build plant health skills.

Efficient use of water in both rainfed and irrigated agriculture

The Introduction to Water Management Course takes 5-6 hours to complete online and teaches the fundamental principles involved in promoting an efficient use of water in both rainfed and irrigated agriculture.

Students will benefit from the theory of making the best use of available water, while also gaining practical information about plot-scale practices that serve to enhance soil water retention, increase the capture of rainwater, and maximize irrigation efficiency.

Among the learning objectives of the course are understanding how water moves through the soil and crop and making changes to the soil and plot that will promote the retention of water.

Improve soil management practices to increase crop yield

The newly launched Sustainable Soil Management Practices is a short online course and set of assessments that highlight the importance of using sustainable practices whilst providing practical guidance on creating bespoke soil management plans for small holder farmers.

The course provides techniques and guidance for identifying the type of soil farmers are working with, outlining the common soil health issues likely to occur in different soil types. This includes soil erosion, loss of soil biodiversity, nutrient imbalances caused by fertilizer misuse and others. To complete the soil management plan, the course then focuses on the management practices that can be used by farmers to tackle identified soil health issues.

Whilst learners can expect to create a bespoke soil management plan by the end of the course, there is also an emphasises on the importance of bringing together farmers in the community to improve soil management practices at scale. It provides advisors with guidance for facilitating communities of practice and well as giving solutions that enable farmers to make the most of their land for years to come.

The course includes a range of activities to guide learners through some of the more scientific concepts explored in the course. Activities include worked examples, scenarios, real-life case studies, video animations, infographics, polls, quizzes, discussion activities, practical experiments and digestible chunks of written content supported by real-world images.

Both courses are aimed at people who work in agro-services and who give advice to farmers, such as extension workers and agro-input dealers. It may also be useful for farmers and agricultural students who can take the course to complement their existing studies.

Mark Berthelemy, CABI’s Digital Learning Manager, said, “Water and soil are crucial to sustainable food production and addressing the climate, nature, and health crises.

“Irrigated agriculture represents 20% of the total cultivated land and contributes to 40% of the total food produced worldwide. But without nourished soils, it would not be possible to farm in an agroecological or organic way.

“These two free courses outline the fundamentals of effective water and soil management and particularly how they relate to food security and the environment.”

Suite of courses and resources

The suite of courses and resources contained within the CABI Academy platform – which is powered by the CABI-led global PlantwisePlus programme – includes courses on Crop Pest Diagnosis, Crop Pest Management, Bioprotection Products and the free eBook – the Diagnostic Field Guide.

The freely available Introduction to Bioprotection Products course and assessments cover choosing, using, and interpreting the results of bioprotection products. The course explains how nature-based pest and disease management practices can be used and provides guidance and activities for learners to explore what these products are, how they work and how farmers can get the most out of them.

CABI’s Digital Learning Team as part of the CABI Academy also provide a range of other services that include consultancy in learning design, as well as platform hosting services.

Using the Skills Framework for Agriculture as our base, we can help you to devise a sustainable strategy for training and performance improvement. In addition, our team of user researchers, learning designers, user experience specialists, graphic designers and testers are available to help you create high impact experiences and resources.

The CABI Academy has partnerships with Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland, SciDev.Net, East West Seeds Knowledge Transfer and

Contact us at if you would like to explore working with us.

Additional information

Main image: Two new free courses in water and soil management have been launched on the CABI Academy (Credit: CABI).

CABI Academy

The CABI Academy is part of CABI’s mission to create and apply knowledge that addresses challenges faced by people around the world.

Our team of learning specialists work closely with subject matter experts to create certifications and courses. These are designed to support those who offer advice to smallholder farmers.

By gaining a CABI certification, you demonstrate that you are serious about providing good advice.

Our online courses will help you to gain those certifications.

Our certifications and courses are mapped to the global Skills Framework for Agriculture.

Find out more at CABI Academy

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