CROP*3340 Managed Grasslands

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.

Managed forage grasses and legumes provide grazing, cover crops, conserved feed, and a wider range of services to the environment and society at large. Agro-ecological, genetic, and managerial considerations will be integrated toward addressing questions of ruminant and equine production and environmental management. Forage species will be distinguished morphologically and physiologically, focusing on adaptation to climatic, edaphic, and managerial constraints. Topics will include: sward lifespan, establishment and maintenance practices, forage quality indices, integration of harvest management for pastures and stored feed, and environmental implications for plant and animal biodiversity, nutrient cycling, and water quality.


Teaching Assistant:

Lab Co-ordinator - Donna Hancock; GTA - Daniel Colcuc

Credit Weight:


Course Level:

  • Undergraduate

Academic Department (or campus):

Department of Plant Agriculture



Semester Offering:

  • Fall

Class Schedule and Location:

Please refer to WebAdvisor for class schedule and location.

Learning outcomes:

This course offers a systems approach to the study of grass and legume forages with a main focus on production and a contextual understanding of implications for soils, cropping systems and ruminant and equine livestock.

Upon successful completion of the course, students should be able to:
  1. Have knowledge of the most common perennial forage species used in Ontario.
    • Know the biology, characteristics, lifespan, and limitations for production of the principal forage species in Ontario.
    • Be able to identify the perennial forage species via seed and plant parts.
    • Have knowledge of the hazards of specific forage species in livestock production and methods to mitigate these problems.
    • Know and be able to describe the effects of various factors including seedbed, seeding rate, timing, and competition, on the establishment of forage species.
  2. Understand factors affecting forage quality.
    • Be able to define forage quality and be aware of the primary laboratory assays used to estimate forage quality.
    • Have knowledge of crop management and environmental effects on forage quality.
    • Be able to describe the effects of forage species, mixture composition, stage of development, and stand age on forage quality and crop and livestock production.
    • Have knowledge of the effects of animal grazing preference and grazing stress on species composition, and the effects of forage species on animal production and performance.
  3. Be aware of the various harvest and on-farm utilization systems of forage crops.
    • Be able to describe how forages can be integrated and their use optimized in annual cropping systems.
    • Understand  nitrogen fixation of forage legumes and nitrogen transfer and use by companion grasses or subsequent crops.
    • Be able to describe how hay, silage, and haylage are preserved and techniques that can be used to enhance their quality, utilization, and economic use.
    • Be able to define management intensive grazing and the terms stocking rate, stocking density, period of stay, rest periods, recovery period, forage allowance and number of paddocks required for effective rotational grazing systems.
  4. Have knowledge of current scientific advances that relate to forage crop production and utilization.
    • Be familiar with the key current scientific literature related to advances in forage crop research and use. 
    • Demonstrate the ability to investigate these advances further, to describe the scientific basis of these advances, and to assess the impact to existing production practices or new opportunities.
    • Be able to present ideas in written or oral formats about forage management and research that have the potential to improve on-farm forage use. 
    • Be able to evaluate the contributions of other students with critical and appreciative comments. 

Lecture Content:

Topics to be covered in lectures include:

  • Introduction to managed grassland in Ontario, role of managed grassland in sustainable agriculture
  • Structure and morphology of grasses and legume forages, forage legume species identification and characteristics
  • Forage grass species identification and characteristics including establishment and persistence of forage crops
  • Forage quality 
  • Pasture ecology and productivity, grazing management for ruminants
  • Pasture management for horses, weeds including noxious species
  • Other grazing operations, winter pasture management
  • Fencing and watering systems
  • Optimizing management for stored forages
  • Reintegration of crop livestock systems including grazing cover crops
  • Role of grazing management in regenerative agriculture including carbon sequestration
  • Managed grasslands and biodiversity
Labs & Seminars:

Lab topics include:

  • Library sessions on research and referencing
  • Forage legume species ID
  • Quiz on forage legume species, forage grass species
  • Quiz on forage grass species, annual forages
  • Forage Quality
  • Group presentations

Course Assignments and Tests:


Assignment or Test Contribution to Final Grade
Plant species assignment 5%
Lab assignments 25%
Mid-term assignment 12.5%
Review Paper or Presentation 25%
Discussion 22.5%


Plant species assignment (5%)
Students will be assigned a forage plant species during the first week of classes. Using the scientific literature, they will contribute to the discussion in the laboratory discussion on the characteristics of the given plant species and its use in forage systems. A short (~one page) report
Lab Assignments (25%)
Due: 1 week after each lab, or as assigned

The labs will consist of practical activities helping to reinforce concepts learned in class. Students should read the lab outline before attending the virtual lab session. Two quizzes on forage legume and grass species identification will be held in lab period.

Midterm Assignment (12.5%)
Students will be responsible for coming up with ten multiple choice questions that would be suitable to test the content learned in class thus far. Details will be provided on Course Link.
Review Paper or Presentation on a Scientific Issue Relevant to Forages (25%)
Each student will write a Review paper OR Present to the class - Student may choose to work in pairs and research the topic together. When working in pairs, the student writing the paper will be assigned 90% of the final paper mark and 10% of the final presentation mark, while the student presenting will be assigned 90% of the final presentation mark and 10% of the final paper mark. Any student may choose to write a paper OR do a presentation on their own without a partner. Students will participate in a peer

Final examination:

Course Resources:

Required Texts:

Sharpe, Paul. 2019. Horse Pasture Management. Elsevier Inc. pp. 442.  (Available Online through the University of Guelph library). Please contact the instructor if you would like to order one directly from the publisher.

Additional required readings of refereed papers or book chapters will be posted on CourseLink prior to each relevant class or lab.


Recommended Texts:

(Available on reserve in the library):

Collins, M., Nelson, C.J., Moore, K.J. and Barnes, R.F.(Eds). 2017.  Forages: An Introduction to Grasslands Agriculture. 432 pages. Wiley-Blackwell

Flack, S. 2016. The Art and Science of Grazing. Chelsea Green Publishing

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs, Publication 19. Pasture Production.

Government Documents Book Stacks (CA2ON AF5 P019).

Lab Manual:

Will be provided through CourseLink.

Other Resources:

CourseLink will be used to relay information associated with the course including lab manuals, and copies of slides used in lecture presentation..

Course Technologies and Technical Support (Equipment)
System and Software Requirements
This course will use a variety of technologies including;
· CourseLink (main classroom)
· Zoom
· Teams (if needed for private meetings)
To help ensure you have the best learning experience possible, please review the list of system and software requirements.

CourseLink System Requirements
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).
Course Technologies
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.
Technical Support
If you need any assistance with the software tools or the CourseLink website, contact CourseLink Support.
Tel: 519-824-4120 ext. 56939 Toll-Free (CAN/USA): 1-866-275-1478
Support 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
This course will use Zoom for lectures. Check your system requirements to ensure you will be able to participate.

*Please ensure you have the latest version of Zoom by updating your Zoom client after January 1st 2020. Please use your email address or you may not be able to access the lectures.

Teams (via Office 365)
Office 365 Teams is a collaboration service that provides shared conversation spaces to help teams coordinate and communicate information. This course may use Teams for one on one meetings with your Instructor. You may also use it to communicate with other class members. It is recommended that you use the desktop version of Teams. As a student you are responsible for learning how to use Teams and its features.
For Teams Support visit the CCS website for more information.
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 course instructor if you need support with any of the above.

Course Policies:

Grading Policies

Course Assignments and Tests grading policies are available on CourseLink.

Other Course Information:

CourseLink will be used to relay information associated with the course.

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