PLNT*6450 Plant Agriculture International Field Trip

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The following description is for the course offering in Fall 2019 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.

Over a two week period students will travel by bus through the American Midwest as far west as Denver Colorado and as far south as the boot heel of Missouri.  During this time, students will have the opportunity to visit and talk with innovative people involved in agribusiness, crop and livestock production. Students will see crops and livestock that are common to Ontario as well as rice, cotton and aquaculture. During the trip students will gain an appreciation for the breadth of American agriculture.  In addition, students will visit the Mercantile Exchange in Chicago, view grain trade along the Mississippi River and learn about the influence of the American Farm Bill in setting world prices. 


Teaching Assistant:

Credit Weight:


Course Level:

  • Graduate

Academic Department (or campus):

Department of Plant Agriculture



Semester Offering:

  • Fall

Class Schedule and Location:

The field trip begins on the last Sunday in August and returns to the University two weeks later on Saturday.

Learning outcomes:

At the successful completion of the course, each student will:

  • be able to synthesize current knowledge, published in peer reviewed journals, and  draw out the implications for agronomic, social, environmental and economic themes in an essay format (Literacy)
  • have an understanding of the political, cultural, biological and environmental forces that shape the agricultural production systems of the United States and the implication of these variables on global trade (Global Understanding)
  • have the depth and breadth of understanding of the variables that shape global agricultural production (Global Understanding)
  • be able to learn independently through observation and discussion (Independence of Thought)

Lecture Content:

This course is structured as a field tour. There are no formal lecture periods during the semester. Throughout the field trip students will be provided with an exposure to and an understanding of primary plant and animal agriculture of the United States. Issues to be covered will include: primary production, agro-ecosystem sustainability, agri-business and the politics of American agriculture. Students will be encouraged to explore themes and issues that are relevant to each of the stops on the tour.  During the tour, students will be responsible for a daily journal. Student monitors will be assigned daily with specific responsibilities as outlined below. Upon return to the Guelph campus, all students will complete their daily journals for submission to the instructor. Once the fall semester begins, the seminar dates will be determined at which time students will present and discuss major themes explored on the tour.

Labs & Seminars:

Course Assignments and Tests:

Assignment or Test Contribution to Final Grade

Daily Journals


Monitor Responsibilities


Field Trip Participation


Seminar Presentation and Discussion


Final examination:

There is no final exam in this course.

Course Resources:

Required Texts: 


Recommended Texts:  


Lab Manual: 


Other Resources: 


Additional Costs: 

The fee for this course is $1400. This cost covers only bus transportation and lodging only. Students are responsible for any additional costs including meals.

Course Policies:

Grading Policies: 

All course assignments are due on the specified date. Assignments submitted up to 7 days after the due date will be downgraded by 10%. Assignments submitted after this period will be downgraded by 20%.

Course Policy on Group Work: 

Certain course assignments such as the monitor responsibilities will be conducted as a group project. All students within the group will receive the same grade. 

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:

Additional Notes (if required):

Daily Journals:  All students are expected to take detailed notes at each farm visit.  These notes will then be used to develop a well written daily journal (1 to 2 pages in length, single spaced) which will be electronically submitted to Professor C. Swanton on the due date as outlined above.

The daily journal should consist of a minimum of 3 sections:  

  1. A summary of the day’s activities- what we did, places visited etc.
  2. Identify and explain 3 key learning points for each farm visit that you felt highlighted the day for you. Include detailed information gathered from each site visited during the day in support of your key learning points.  You may include photos for each day if desired. 
  3.  Assessment of the visit – provide your comments on the value of each farm visit. 

Monitor Responsibilities:

  1. preparation of questions and issues for each visit
  2. blog (15%)
  3. daily logistics- loading and unloading the bus, student count etc.

Blog:  The blog is the responsibility of the monitors assigned for the specific day.  On the day that you are responsible for a blog you are not required to complete a daily journal for that day as well.  Using the questions, answers and issues discussed at each farm visit the monitors are to work as a team to produce a well written, detailed summary that will be posted on our Mid-West web page. Include what we did, what we saw and a synthesis of the key learning points of the monitor team supported with data collected from our farm visits. The blog should include photos of interest that will help to highlight the key learning points within the summary. The blog will be marked based on readability, insight and information content.

Field Trip Participation:  The participation mark is an assessment of your constructive contributions to the success of the course. Contributions are defined as your effort to: engage actively at each farm visit i.e. note taking, asking questions, your contributions to team work and student safety, and your  adherence to the course code of conduct.

Review paper and Seminar Presentation:  Once the tour is completed, students will be required to provide a review paper (8 to 10 pages which includes reference list, 1.5 line spacing) and an oral presentation (30 minutes, PowerPoint) on a selected theme explored during the trip. It is important that the seminar highlights a global perspective on the chosen theme. Students are expected to review the published literature relevant to the selected theme and to provide 2 key papers for review by the class prior to their seminar. 

Seminar presentation weighting:  15%
Review paper:                              25%         

Review paper submission and presentation date and time:   TBD

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:

Academic Misconduct

The University of Guelph is committed to upholding the highest standards of academic integrity and it is the responsibility of all members of the University community, faculty, staff, and students  to be aware of what constitutes academic misconduct and to do as much as possible to prevent academic offences from occurring.

University of Guelph students have the responsibility of abiding by the University's policy on academic misconduct regardless of their location of study; faculty, staff and students have the responsibility of supporting an environment that discourages misconduct. Students need to remain aware that instructors have access to and the right to use electronic and other means of detection. Please note: Whether or not a student intended to commit academic misconduct is not relevant for a finding of guilt. Hurried or careless submission of assignments does not excuse students from responsibility for verifying the academic integrity of their work before submitting it. Students who are in any doubt as to whether an action on their part could be construed as an academic offence should consult with a faculty member or faculty advisor.

The Academic Misconduct Policy is detailed in the University Calenders:


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For more information, contact CSD at 519-824-4120 ext. 56208 or email or visit the Student Accessibility Services website:

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