PLNT*6240 Crop Production and Management

course node page

The following description is for the course offering in Fall 2017 and is subject to change. It is provided for information only. The course outline distributed to the class at the beginning of the semester describes the course content and delivery, and defines the methods and criteria to be used in establishing the final grades for the course.

An open discussion course designed to review and critically analyze contemporary issues in crop production and management.


Teaching Assistant:

Credit Weight:


Course Level:

  • Graduate

Academic Department (or campus):

Department of Plant Agriculture



Semester Offering:

  • Fall

Class Schedule and Location:

The class will meet on six evenings from 6 – 9 pm, in room 202, Crop Sci. The dates will be selected according to student availability.  

Learning outcomes:

  1. able to evaluate the impact of Ontario cropping systems on:
    • healthy soil,
    • clean air,
    • clean and sufficient water,
    • biodiversity,
    • regenerative energy and energy efficiency,
    • mitigating and adapting to climate change,
    • profitable and resilient farming communities,
    • human health,
    • an adequate and ongoing food supply for all.
  2. able to trace the value chain connections of cropping systems
  3. able to discuss critically how cropping systems pertain to your worldviews of agriculture and food
  4. reviewed twice for ability to write a formal paper on a selected aspect of sustainable cropping systems
  5. familiar with the key current literature on sustainable cropping systems
  6. able to discern the implications of cropping system management on sustainability

Lecture Content:

Topics to be covered in lectures include:

  • Introduction to terminology and concepts of sustainable cropping systems
  • Cover crops and crop rotations
  • Soil management and soil amendments
  • Agro-forestry, crop and livestock interactions, climate change
  • Value chain connections and consumers habits and preferences
  • Anticipating sustainable cropping systems of the future
Labs & Seminars:

Course Assignments and Tests:

Assignment or Test Contribution to Final Grade Learning Outcomes Assessed

Reflective writing on classes


1, 2, 3

Term paper


1, 4, 5, 6

Final examination:

There is no final examination scheduled for this course.

Course Resources:

Required Texts:

Not applicable

Recommended Texts:
  • Brady, N. and Weil, R. 1999. Nature and Property of Soils. 12th Edition. Prentice Hall, N.J. USA.
  • Food Sustainability Index
  • Landis, D.A. 2017. Designing agricultural landscapes for biodiversity-based ecosystem services. Basic and Applied Ecology. 18:1 -12
  • Steffen, Will* Katherine Richardson, Johan Rockström, Sarah E. Cornell, Ingo Fetzer, Elena M. Bennett, Reinette Biggs, Stephen R. Carpenter, Wim de Vries, Cynthia A. de Wit, Carl Folke, Dieter Gerten, Jens Heinke, Georgina M. Mace, Linn M. Persson, Veerabhadran Ramanathan, Belinda Reyers, Sverker Sörlin. 2015. Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet. Science 347, 1259855. DOI: 10.1126/science.1259855  
Lab Manual:

Not applicable.

Other Resources:

Refereed papers will be assigned as readings in the class preceding the next class.

Field Trips:

Not applicable.

Additional Costs:

Not applicable.

Course Policies:

Grading Policies:

Reflective Writing (42% of final mark)

The reflections submitted after each class will pertain directly to the assigned paper(s) and discussion each week and students will be evaluated for their critical assessments and understanding. The reflections are intended to develop a deeper understanding of the topics of discussion.

Term Paper (58% of final mark)

Each student will write a Review paper of 4,000 – 5,000 words, based on the scientific literature, dealing with a selected topic about sustainability in cropping systems.  Submit the title of your chosen topic to the instructor on or before Mon. Sept. 25.  The paper should include fifteen to twenty references, which can be compared and contrasted in relationship to the hypothesis of the paper.  A complete first draft of the paper is due on Mon. Oct. 23. This draft will be marked. You may resubmit the paper, for further evaluation, any time before the last day of classes.  The second grade will be no lower than the first grade and will also be evaluated for appropriate responses to directives of the instructor in the first draft. 

You will be allowed 72 grace hours for delayed submission of the paper and can assign the grace hours as you choose, to the first and second draft. If the first draft is submitted early, up to 72 additional grace hours can be accumulated i.e. 144 in total, for late submission of the second draft. If more than 72 grace hours in total are used then the grade of the paper will be reduced by 10% per day for each class day beyond the 72 hour grace period.

The grade of a paper submitted after the grace period will be reduced by 10% per day for each class day beyond the end of the grace period. Requests for extensions due to illness or other personal issues must be made in writing and accompanied by appropriate supporting documentation.

The review (see sections outlined below) paper will be evaluated for punctual submission, the specific use of data, critical thinking, the ability to compare and contrast and scientific understanding. 

  • The Introduction (10%) should clearly state the objective(s) and outline any limits of the paper. 
  • The Literature Review and Discussion (50%) should be well organized, include data from references to support assertions, be critical and include analysis with comparing and contrasting. 
  • Recommendations (20%) should directly relate to your discussion and be applicable to practitioners.  There should be at least two short term practical recommendations and one long term aspirational recommendation.
  • The Conclusion (10%) should answer the question "so what?" and may include suggestions for future research.  It should succinctly summarize, evaluate and compare.
  • References (10%) must be properly cited in the text of the review paper and shown in proper format in the Reference section (see Instructions to Authors in the Canadian Journal of Plant Science).  You must use at least 15 references from refereed journal articles.  References from electronic sources will be accepted if they are university or government or other credible sources.
Course Policy on Group Work:         


Course Policy regarding use of electronic devices and recording of lectures:

Electronic recording of classes is expressly forbidden without consent of the instructor. When recordings are permitted they are solely for the use of the authorized student and may not be reproduced, or transmitted to others, without the express written consent of the instructor.

Other Course Information:

University Policies

Academic Consideration

When you find yourself unable to meet an in-course requirement because of illness or compassionate reasons, please advise the course instructor in writing, with your name, id#, and e-mail contact. See the academic calendar for information on regulations and procedures for Academic Consideration:

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The Academic Misconduct Policy is detailed in the University Calenders:


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