AGR*4020 Precision Techniques for 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.


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.


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 draw out the implications for precision ag management
  2. have an understanding of the basic GIS concepts and analysis techniques as they relate to precision agriculture.
  3. have the depth and breadth of understanding of factors that contribute to the return on
  4. investment of precision ag offerings

Lecture Content:

Each class session will typically start off with a lecture and finish with an activity or assignment. The course is divided into three main themes:
1.  Fundamentals of GIS
  • Coordinate Systems and Map Projections
  • Raster and vector data management
  • Cartography – map design and visual communication of quantitative data
  • Geoprocessing
2.  Remote Sensing
  • Physics review (mostly heat and light)
  • Vegetation indices
  • Image classification
3.  Precision Ag linkages
  • Yield monitors, spreaders, sprayers, controllers
  • Drones and associated sensors
  • Site-specific management
  • Case studies
Labs & Seminars:

Lab exercises will typically be completed using GIS software and submitted for grading via CourseLink. Lab activities will typically assess your capability to make maps, analyze data, and answer short questions. There will be approximately four lab assignments and they will be weighted to account for 50% of your final grade.

Course Assignments and Tests:

Assignments and Tests
Contributions to Final Grade
Lab assignments 50%
Four Quizzes 50%


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

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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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