AGR*1110 Introduction to Agri-Food Systems

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The following description is for the course offering in Fall 2021 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.

This introductory course provides an overview of Canadian and global agri-food systems. Students will be introduced to many different facets of agriculture, including primary production (conventional and organic) of commodity, mid-value and high-value crops, and livestock. Students will explore the agri-food system by tracing consumer end-products back to primary production. Modern, industrial agri-food systems as well as subsistence farming will be discussed. The course incorporates an experiential learning component in which students will explore a new agri-food opportunity for Ontario by designing and assessing the value chain.

Restrictions: AGR*1100. AGR*1250. Restricted to students in BAH.FARE, BSC(AGR), Minor in Agriculture


Teaching Assistant:

Jessica Mehre; Luke Dojack; Meaghan Mechler; Olivier Herlin; Renee Cosme

Credit Weight:


Course Level:

  • Undergraduate

Academic Department (or campus):

Department of Plant Agriculture



Semester Offering:

  • Fall

Class Schedule and Location:

Please refer to Web Advisor for class schedule and location.

Learning outcomes:

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  1. have an awareness of the complexity and breadth of the Canadian agri-food system
  2. have an understanding of basic statistical analysis of a large data set and graphic representation of data
  3. have further developed your written communication skills through one-on-one interactionwith a teaching assistant
  4. have gained experience in visual and oral presentations
  5. have gained an introduction to the contrasts of subsistence versus commercial agri-food systems
  6. have gained critical analysis and problem-solving skills to help tackle real-world problems

Lecture Content:

Topics to be covered in lectures include:

1. Issues in the News

  • World population
  • Bottom billion
  • Food insecurity/Food loss & waste
  • The food dollar
  • GMOs
  • Globalization
  • Trade issues – dairy & feathers
  • Nutrient pollution
  • Sustainability metrics

2. Crop production 101

  • Plant nutrient concepts
  • Soils
  • Pests
  • Climate
  • Canola
  • Wheat
  • Asparagus
  • Cocoa
  • Coffee

3.The Agri-food system

  • The history of agriculture
  • Modern agriculture
  • The agri-food system
  • Overview of Canadian agriculture
  • Agri-food systems in wealthy nations
  • Production systems
  • Household spending on food

4. Animal Agriculture

  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Poultry
  • Swine
  • Beef
  • Aquaculture
  • Other animals
  • Feedstuffs
  • Integrating systems

4. Subsistence Farming

  • Tropical Subsistence Farming
  • SubTropical/Dryland Subsistence Farming
Labs & Seminars:

Topics to be covered in labs or seminars include:

  • Food journal entries
  • Excel tutorial
  • Graphing tutorial
  • Stats tutorial
  • Numeracy statistical and graphing analysis of food journals
  • Common problems in writing and general tips for improvement
  • Online publishing tutorial

Course Assignments and Tests:

Assignments and Tests
Contribution to Final Grade

Midterm 1


Midterm 2


Final Exam


Short Essay 


Oral Presentation


Food Journal Assignments


Group Presentation


Independent Study Assignments


Total: 200%

Final examination:

Please refer to Web Advisor for exam schedule and location.

Course Resources:

There is no textbook for this course. PDFs of required readings will be posted on CourseLink, in addition to all lecture podcasts, Zoom recordings, Slido, lecture notes, instructional course materials and grades:

This course will use a variety of technologies including;

  • CourseLink
  • Zoom and Zoom recordings
  • Virtual Classroom and recordings
  • Podcasts
  • Videos
  • Microsoft Excel

Midterms and the final exam will be given online via Respondus Lockdown Browser, but is subject to change. Respondus requires a Webcam, and Lockdown browser only works on Windows and MacOS. The only compatible tablet is an iPad. Google Chrome and Linux are not compatible. Students need to install Lockdown Browser on their machines.

If there is a connectivity problem during an exam/midterm, please contact the Courselink Help Desk ASAP who will reconnect you during the exam. Students with special needs may receive special accommodation (e.g. more time to write an exam) by contacting Student Accessibility Services at the start of the semester:

To help ensure you have the best learning experience possible, please review the list of system and software requirements.

CourseLink System Requirements

This course is being offered using CourseLink (powered by D2L's Brightspace), the University of Guelph's online learning management system (LMS). By using this service, you agree to comply with the University of Guelph's Access and Privacy Guidelines. Please visit the D2L website to review the Brightspace privacy statement and Brightspace Learning Environment web accessibility standards.

You are responsible for ensuring that your computer system meets the necessary system requirements. Use the browser check tool to ensure your browser settings are compatible and up to date. (Results will be displayed in a new browser window).

Technical Skills

As part of your learning experience, you are expected to use a variety of technologies for assignments, lectures, teamwork, and meetings. In order to be successful in this course you will need to have the following technical skills:

  • Manage files and folders on your computer (e.g., save, name, copy, backup, rename, delete, and check properties);
  • Install software, security, and virus protection;
  • Use office applications (e.g., Word, PowerPoint, Excel, or similar) to create documents;
  • Be comfortable uploading and downloading saved files;
  • Communicate using email (e.g., create, receive, reply, print, send, download, and open attachments);
  • Navigate the CourseLink learning environment and use the essential tools, such as Dropbox,
  • Quizzes, Discussions, and Grades (the instructions for this are given in your course);
  • Access, navigate, and search the Internet using a web browser (e.g., Firefox, Internet Explorer); and
  • Perform online research using various search engines (e.g., Google) and library databases.

Contact your Teaching Assistant if you need support with any of the above.

Technical Support

If you need any assistance with the software tools or the CourseLink website, contact CourseLink Support.

University of Guelph Day Hall, Room 211
Tel: 519-824-4120 ext. 56939; Toll-Free (CAN/USA): 1-866-275-1478

Walk-In Hours (Eastern Time): Monday thru Friday: 8:30 am–4:30 pm
Phone/Email Hours (Eastern Time): Monday thru Friday: 8:30 am–8:30 pm; Saturday: 10:00 am–4:00 pm; Sunday: 12:00 pm–6:00 pm

Library Resources

As a student, you have access to the University of Guelph’s library collection, including both physical and electronic materials. For information on checking out or couriering physical library items, accessing electronic journals and returning items to the library, visit the library's website:

If you are studying off campus and would like to access the library’s electronic resources, use the Off Campus Login and login using your Single Sign On credentials or using your last name and library barcode:

Course Policies:

In person lectures and tutorial sections - Adhering to Covid protocols

Please note that pandemic restrictions in place at the time of each lecture / tutorial must be followed by everyone according to the guidelines provided by the University and the local public health unit. The pandemic is a community problem and we all need to actively participate in a community solution. Restrictions may include but not be limited to a vaccination requirement, proper use of appropriate PPE, hand sanitation, social distancing and other measures. Failure to comply with restrictions that are in place at the time of the lecture / tutorial could result in the immediate cancelation of that lecture / tutorial. Students would still be responsible for learning the material that was to be covered in that lecture / tutorial regardless of the cancelation.

Late Grading and Missed Midterm Policy

Assignments are NOT accepted late, except in extreme circumstances (death in the family) or significant illness. Failure to notify the relevant Instructor (in the case of a midterm) or Teaching Assistant (for assignments) prior to a due date or midterm cannot be accommodated afterwards. Late Assignments will NOT be graded if they are submitted after the solutions and/or grades have been posted to CourseLink. These rules are not designed to be arbitrary, nor are they inflexible. They are designed to keep you organized, to ensure that all students have the same amount of time to work on assignments, and to help to return marked materials to you in the shortest possible time. 

Grades and Feedback

Unofficial assessment marks will be available in the Grades tool of the course website.

Your instructor will attempt to have grades posted online in a reasonable time after your submission. Once your assignments are marked you can view your grades on the course website by selecting Grades from the Tools dropdown menu on the navbar. Your course will remain open to you for seven days following the last day of the final exam period.

University of Guelph students can access their final grade by logging into WebAdvisor (using your U of G central ID).

Course Policy on Technology:

In this course, it is your responsibility to ensure that you can access the course materials and complete online course requirements within the time allotted regardless of technological issues you may encounter including Internet and Wifi connections. Please anticipate technical challenges that you may face, as it cannot be used as an excuse for incomplete or late assignments or missed exams.

If CourseLink is not accessible for a significant period of time (not including scheduled maintenance) deemed by the course coordinator to have had an impact on students’ abilities to complete quizzes, deadlines will be extended.

Keep in mind that if your technology uses the University’s wireless network to access the Internet, the University’s acceptable use policy also comes into play.

Netiquette and Zoom Expectations:

The course website, Zoom forum, videos and other online resources are considered the classroom, and thus the same protections, expectations, guidelines, and regulations used in face-to-face settings apply. Inappropriate behaviour will not be tolerated. Examples of inappropriate online behavior include:

  • Posting inflammatory messages about your instructor or fellow students;
  • Using offensive language;
  • Copying or presenting someone else's work as your own;
  • Adapting information from the Internet without using proper citations or references;
  • Buying or selling term papers or assignments;
  • Posting, distributing or selling course materials without explicit written permission of the Instructor or Teaching Assistant who are the legal owners of these materials;
  • Having someone else complete your online test/exam for/with another student;
  • Stating false claims about lost exam answers or other assignment submissions;
  • Threatening or harassing a student or instructor;
  • Discriminating against fellow students, instructors, and/or TAs;
  • Using the course materials to promote profit-driven products or services;
  • Attempting to compromise the security or functionality of the learning management system; and
  • Sharing your username and password.
  • Disrespectful or inappropriate statements in the chatbox.
Dropbox Submissions:

Assignments should be submitted electronically via the online Dropbox tool. When submitting your assignments using the Dropbox tool, do not leave the page until your assignment has successfully uploaded. To verify that your submission was complete, you can view the submission history immediately after the upload to see which files uploaded successfully. The system will also email you a receipt. Save this email receipt as proof of submission.

Be sure to keep a back-up copy of all of your assignments in the event that they are lost in transition. In order to avoid any last-minute computer problems, your instructor strongly recommend you save your assignments to a cloud-based file storage (e.g., OneDrive), or send to your email account, so that should something happen to your computer, the assignment could still be submitted on time or re-submitted.

It is your responsibility to submit your assignments on time as specified on the Schedule. Be sure to check the technical requirements and make sure you have the proper computer, that you have a supported browser, and that you have reliable Internet access. Remember that technical difficulty is not an excuse not to turn in your assignment on time. Don’t wait until the last minute as you may get behind in your work. If, for some reason, you have a technical difficulty when submitting your assignment electronically, please contact your Teaching Assistant or CourseLink Support.

Other Course Information:

Communicating with Instructors and Teaching Assistants

During the course, your Instructor will interact with you on various course matters using the following ways of communication:

First 5 minutes of each Class (Instructor): This time will be allocated to ask the Instructor questions.

First and last 5-15 minutes of each online Tutorial Section (T.A.): This time will be allocated to ask your Teaching Assistant questions.

Announcements: The Instructors will use Announcements on the Course Home page to provide you with course reminders and updates. Please check this section frequently for
course updates from your instructor.

Scheduled Online Office Hours: Each Instructor and Teaching Assistant will be online for 1-2 hours each week at a scheduled time on Zoom for video chats. Please wait online to be admitted.

Email: If you have a conflict that prevents you from completing course requirements, or have a question concerning a personal matter, you can send your instructor a private message by email. Please put AGR1110 in the header of any emails to the Instructors or Teaching Assistants, as they are teaching multiple courses. The instructor will attempt to respond to our email within 2 business days. This may be followed up by a private Zoom call if needed. Please see below for additional notes about sending emails to the Instructors.

Emailing Instructors and Teaching Assistants

For assignment related questions, please email your Teaching Assistant first.

For midterm/final exam questions, please email the Professor responsible for that particular test more than 24 hours prior to the midterm/final.

Email is used as an important source of updates about this course. All official email from the instructor will be sent to your University email account ( It is expected that you are checking this email account on a frequent basis. University policy prevents instructors from replying to a non-U of G email about anything to do with this course. The instructors for this course are involved with other courses as well, just as you are. If you email a course instructor and would like a timely response, please keep in mind that over 1,000 other students may also be emailing the instructors about this course and other courses – it can be a lot of email in a day. In order to facilitate an answer to your email, please consider the following guidelines:

  • correspond with the instructor using your official University email only (, emails from other addresses could be screened as spam
  • if the answer to your email query can be found in the course outline or other material posted on the AGR-1110 CourseLink site, you might not receive a reply
  • include the course code (AGR-1110) in the subject along with a few relevant key words indicating what your message is about
  • include your full name and student number in the email signature

Please allow 24 to 48 hours for a response to your query. Keep in mind that even before you complete your university degree, you will be corresponding with people who may become your employer. Practicing professional email communications right from the start is a good habit to get into.

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:

Course Evaluation Information

Your ratings and comments are important.  Course evaluation data are used to assess and enhance the quality of teaching and student learning at the University of Guelph.  Student course ratings and comments are used as an important component in the Faculty Tenure & Promotion process, and as valuable feedback to help instructors improve their teaching effectiveness and to improve the delivery of the course.

Your responses will not affect your grade.  Course evaluation data are distributed to individual instructors after final grades have been submitted to the Registrar, following the completion of each academic semester.

Please be honest, respectful, constructive and thorough.  Instructors and review committees place great value on student course ratings and read all comments provided in course evaluations. It is helpful to provide comments on the strengths of the course, in addition to the areas for improvement.  Please refrain from personal comments unless they relate to teaching and learning.

Click here for the University of Guelph Course Evaluation System