AGR*2470 Introduction to Plant Agriculture

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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.

The basic principles of plant morphology, nutrition, growth and development will be related to where and how agriculturally significant plants are grown. Agroecosystems and farming systems will be considered as frameworks for crop production analyses. The course uses examples from temperate, sub-tropical and tropical crops and cropping systems. Labs include problem-solving exercises in the context of plant production. Prerequisite(s):  1 of  BIOL*1050, BIOL*1070. Restriction(s) AGR*2150


Teaching Assistant:

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. relate where and how agriculturally-important plants are produced to basic  crop development and phenology, crop-environment interactions, crop genetics and breeding, crop ecology, and crop management and economic factors;                                                                                                              

  2.  assess  factors governing crop growth, crop selection and cropping systems at the field, farm and regional levels and begin to provide recommendations on such factors;

  3. understand both the significance of plant agriculture and the challenges facing plant agriculture in the 21stCentury;                                                                                                                   

  4. apply the scientific method to problems in plant agriculture through experience gained with a laboratory-based project and additional laboratory exercises and a crop essay;                                                      

  5. communicate effectively in the plant agriculture industry, and show improved numeracy and literacy skills through the writing of a crop essay, delivery of a laboratory project seminar, and preparation of laboratory exercises.

Lecture Content:

Topics to be covered in lectures include:

  • Introduction to agriculturally significant plants
  • Properties of solar energy and effects of light on crop plants
  • Efficiency of solar energy use in agroecosystems
  • Influence of temperature on plant agriculture
  • Influence of moisture on plant agriculture
  • Crop nutrition
  • Genetic improvement of crop plants 
  • Temperate vegetable production
  • Temperate fruit production
  • Protected horticulture
  • Tropical crops and bananas
  • Chocolate, coffee and tea
  • Staples: rice cassava, yams and sweet potatoes
  • Rubber and cotton
  • Agronomic cropping systems
  • Temperate cereal and oilseed production
  • Temperate pastures and forages
Labs & Seminars:

  Week 2

  • Lab 1-Introduction to Crop Project

  • Tour Bovey Greenhouse Facilities                               

Week 3

  • Lab 2- Establishment of Crop Project Plan

   Week 4

  • Lab 3- Set up Crop Project

  • Measurements for Crop Project

Week 5

  • Lab 4- Solar Energy & Crops

  • Measurements for Crop Project

Week 6

  • Crop Nutrition - PartyI - Nutrient Calculations

  • Measurements for Crop Project

Week 7

  • No formal labs - Lab does n ot meet, no plant measurements

  • Crop Project Groups must still maintain plants this week

Week 8

  • Lab 6- Nutrition of Crops-Part 2

  • Measurements for Crop Project

   Week 9

  • Lab 7- Measurements for Crop Project           

Week 10

  • Lab 8- Conclude Measurements for Crop Project

​    Week 11

  • Lab 9-Student Seminars on Lab Crop Project

  • Hand in Lab Book for Crop Project if presenting seminar (group assignment)

Week 12

  • Lab 10-Student Seminars on Lab Crop Project

  • Hand in Lab Book for Crop Project if presenting seminar (group assignment)      

Week 13

  • No Labs

Course Assignments and Tests:

Assignment or Test

Lecture Midterm



Crop Essay



Final Exam



Individual Lab Assignments (2)



Group Crop Project





Final examination:

Please refer to Web Advisor for exam schedule and location.

Course Resources:

Required Texts:

Non applicable

Recommended Texts: 

Not applicable

Lab Manual:

Lab assignments available on Courselink

Other Resources:

There is NO textbook or lab manual that needs to be purchased for the course.  Many readings will be provided on Courselink, and in some cases these readings will be Required Reading for the Midterm, Final Exam, and Lab.  All lab exercises and associated readings will be provided on Courselink at least one week prior to the lab.. 

Available in the library:  

1. Acquaah (2005) Principles of Crop Production:  Theory, Techniques, and  Technology-2nd Edition.  Pearson Education Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey (Call # SB 185.A27 2005);

2. Chrispeels and Sadava (1994) Plants, Genes, and Agriculture.  Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Inc., London, England (Call # SB 123.57.C48);

3. Gardner, Pearce, and Mitchell (1985) Physiology of Crop Plants.  Iowa State University Press, Ames, Iowa (Call # SB 185.5.G37);

4. Janick (1986) Horticultural Science-Fourth Edition.  W.H. Freeman and Company, New York (Call # SB 318.J35 1986);

5. Janick, Schery, Woods, Ruttan (1981) Plant Science-An Introduction to World Crops-Third Edition.  W.H. Freeman & Company, San Francisco (Call # SB 91. P55 1981);

6. McMahon, Kofranek, Rubatzky (2002) Hartmann’s Plant Science-Third Edition.  Pearson Education Inc., New Jersey (Call # SB 91.P56 2002);

7. Preece and Read (1993) The Biology of Horticulture-An Introductory Textbook.  John Wiley and Sons, Inc., USA (Call # SB 318.P74);

8. Raven, Evert, Eichhorn (1999) Biology of Plants-6th Edition.  North Publishers, Inc., New York, New York (QK 47.R25 1999).

9. Tivy (1990) Agricultural Ecology.  Longman Group UK Limited, Essex, England (S 589.7.T58).

Online Resources:                                                                                                                              

Prior to each lecture and lab, you will need to download Powerpoint lectures, lecture handouts, lab exercises, and readings from Courselink.  The Courselink website is at  Login using your central email server user name and password.   Laboratory exercises for a given week will be available through Courselink at least one week prior to each applicable lab period.

The Dept. of Plant Agriculture website is at (useful links and general info.) and the Dept. of Plant Agriculture undergraduate website (overview of undergrad programs and courses) is at

Field Trips:

Not applicable

Additional Costs:

Standard bound laboratory notebook, ~ $8 (only one notebook is needed per group of 3-5 in the lab)

Course Policies:

Grading Policies:

(a) Lecture Midterm and Crop Essay Assignment
The Midterm will occur in class on Thursday, October 17, starting at 13:00, and students will have the entire 80 minute period to write the exam.  The Midterm will be written using computer marking sheets.  The Crop Essay is due by November 123, 2019 by 16:00 for students presenting their Lab Seminar in Lab 10, and it is due by November 19, 2019 by 16:00 for students presenting their Lab Seminar in Lab 9.  An electronic pdf version of the Crop Essay including the flow chart should be sent to B. Micallef ( by the designated due date, and a hard copy of the Crop Essay should also be provided to one of the three course instructors (Deen, Fitzsimons or Micallef) by the designated due date.

(b) Lab Assignments and Group Crop Project
Laboratory assignments for Labs 4, 5, & 6 are each due within 2 weeks and they are to be handed into the GTA at the beginning of the lab period. The student seminar for the Group Crop Project will occur in either Lab 9 or 10, and the GTA will develop a schedule for the seminars closer to the seminar dates.  The Plan for the Group Crop Project will be handed into the GTA at the beginning of Lab 2.  The Group Crop Project Lab Book will be due in the lab period when the Crop Project Seminar is delivered.  The Crop Project Lab Book should be written using a standard bound laboratory notebook.

The standard penalty for late assignments will be 10% of the assignment value per working day late.  Please note that these policies are binding unless academic consideration is given to an individual student.  Also see Undergraduate Grading Procedures.

Course Policy on Group Work:

It is expected that all members of a Crop Project Group will contribute equally to the three Crop Project assignments (Crop Project Plan, Seminar and Lab Book), including attendance in lab to set up the Crop Project and to make weekly measurements.  If the GTA or Lab Coordinator  discovers that a member of a Crop Project Group does not have a legitimate reason for missing a lab, and for not contributing equally to the crop project, marks will be deducted from the three Crop Project assignments for that particular group member that reflect the lack of participation.  Since the Crop Project is a semester-long assignment and measurements are performed during the lab, and several labs involve additional lab exercises, attendance in each lab period is required.  If you need to miss a lab period, your GTA should be informed ahead of time and supporting documentation provided.

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

Electronic recording of classes is expressly forbidden without consent of the instructor, whether the presenter is an instructor, GTA, classmate or guest lecturer. 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. Material recorded with permission is restricted to use for that course unless further permission is granted.

Other Course Information:

University Policies

Academic Consideration

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The Academic Misconduct Policy is detailed in the University Calenders:


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