AGR*4020 Precision Techniques for Plant Agriculture

course node page

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.


A survey of principles and applications of technologies supporting precision farming and planning for natural resource data management. Topics will include Global positioning system (GPS), yield monitoring and mapping, remote sensing, geographic information system (GIS), variable rate technologies (VRT), data layering, Internet information access, and computer software for management.

Pre-Requisites: AGR*2470, STAT*2040, (BIOL*1050 or BIOL*1070)


Teaching Assistant:


Credit Weight:


Course Level:

  • Undergraduate

Academic Department (or campus):

Plant Agriculture



Semester Offering:

  • Fall

Class Schedule and Location:

Please refer to Web Advisor for class schedule and location.

Learning outcomes:

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

1. Synthesize current knowledge published in peer reviewed journals and trade publications to draw out the implications for precision ag management

  • Evaluate marketing for precision ag technologies
  • Critical thinking about the agricultural technology marketplace
  • Basic understanding of site-specific management

2. Understand basic Geographic Information Systems (GIS) concepts and analysis techniques as they relate to precision agriculture.

  • Describe the difference between data and information
  • Manage and analyze spatial data from a variety of sources such as farm equipment, drone imagery, and satellite imagery
  • Quantify error between model predictions and reference data

3. Understand the basic theory and application for yield monitoring systems, unmanned aerial systems, remote sensing, and variable rate technologies.

  • How GPS works
  • Data analysis principles
  • Influence of terrain and soils on yield variability

Lecture Content:

Lectures will be face-to-face. If classroom technology is in-place and functional, lectures will be live-streamed or recorded and posted to Courselink. You are expected to attend and
participate, especially if there is a guest lecture. Class will typically review lecture content, address student questions, and/or provide lab-style time for completing assignments with
instructor support.

The course is divided into three main themes:

1. Precision Ag Equipment

  • Electronics
  • Navigation
  • Hardware/equipment

2. Software

  • Data management
  • GIS
  • Remote/proximal Sensing

3. Precision Ag linkages

  • Site-specific variability
  • Variable rate technologies
  • Data analysis
  • Case studies
Labs & Seminars:

There is no formal lab section, partly due to COVID-19. Therefore, some graded exercises will be similar to computer lab assignments.

Course Assignments and Tests:

Assignments and Tests
Contributions to Final Grade
Lab assignments/exercises 40%
Quizzes (4) 40%
Final Assignment 20%
Dropbox Submissions

Some assignments, such as exercises/labs, might be submitted electronically via the online Dropbox tool. Any assignment instructions will detail whether it will be graded in a quiz
format or via Dropbox. 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 instructor or CourseLink Support.

Late Policy

If you choose to submit assignments to the Dropbox tool late, the full allocated mark will be reduced by 5% per day after the deadline for the submission of the assignment to a limit of
six days at which time access to the Dropbox folder will be closed. Late Graded Homework Assignments will NOT be graded if they are submitted after the solutions have been posted to

Extensions will be considered for medical reasons or other extenuating circumstances. If you require an extension, discuss this with the instructor as soon as possible and well before the due date. Barring exceptional circumstances, extensions will not be granted once the due date has passed. 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 within 2 weeks of the submission deadline, if the assignment was submitted on time. 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).

Final examination:

There is no final exam for this course.

Course Resources:

Required Resources
Lab exercises, data, and readings will be posted in Courselink (Lab Manual)
Book: Precision Agriculture Basics, 2018 Published by: American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America, Inc. is on electronic reserve
Recommended Resources
GIS Fundamentals: A First Text on Geographic Information Systems, Paul Bolstad (Textbook)
Good general text on GIS principles. Not necessary to purchase. It is just a good reference in case you want one.
Additional Costs
Must have access to a windows computer that you can install software on in case you need to complete in-class exercises at home. Mac or Linux should be fine but lab instructions might not transfer perfectly and instructor is not responsible for supporting course material on any operating system other than Windows.

Course Policies:

Grading Policies

All grading is in accordance with the Undergraduate Grading Procedures. In-semester assignments and tests are due on the date specified in this course outline. A medical note or permission of the instructor is required to delay submission of assignments or to allow for change in test date. Late assignments will be penalized 2% per day from date specified within this course outline until the date of submission.

Course Policy on Group Work

You are expected to complete the work individually. If a particular topic is challenging then you can collaborate with another student; however, it is unethical to simply copy 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:

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:


The University of Guelph is committed to creating a barrier-free environment. Providing services for students is a shared responsibility among students, faculty and administrators. This relationship is based on respect of individual rights, the dignity of the individual and the University community's shared commitment to an open and supportive learning environment. Students requiring service or accommodation, whether due to an identified, ongoing disability or a short-term disability should contact the Student Accessibility Services (SAS), formerly Centre for Students with Disabilities (CSD), as soon as possible.

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