CROP*3340 Managed Grasslands

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The following description is for the course offering in Winter 2020 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.

Offered in even-numbered years.


Teaching Assistant:

Credit Weight:


Course Level:

  • Undergraduate

Academic Department (or campus):

Department of Plant Agriculture



Semester Offering:

  • Winter

Class Schedule and Location:

Please refer to WebAdvisor for class schedule and location.

Learning outcomes:

The material will be presented and discussed using a lecture/seminar format supplemented with hands-on laboratory exercises; attendance at the FarmSmart Conference at the University will be included as part of the course schedule. Each participant will also select, from a prescribed list specified by the instructor, a recently published journal article on a specific topic related to forage production. Participants, working in teams of two, will explore the subject in greater depth and present a 30 minute powerpoint presentation to the class; this presentation will include the scientific basis of the new knowledge.  Concurrently, participants will also create a written summary of their topic suitable for inclusion in a newsletter for forage producers; these summaries will be provided to the Ontario Forage. The Prescribed list of articles is appended to the Course Outline.

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.
    • Be aware of seed production and processing systems used for forage seed, and gain experience in measuring certain seed quality factors associated with germination and establishment of perennial 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.
  4. Have knowledge of current scientific advances that relate to forage crop production and utilization.
    • Be aware of recent scientific advances related to forage crops.
    • 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.
    • Gain experience in conveying the advances to fellow scientists in both oral and written form.
    • Gain experience in conveying the advances to farmers in written form.

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, foirage legume species identification and characteristics
  • Forage legume and grass species identification and characteristics including establishment and persistence of forage crops
  • Quality of forages as stored feed
  • Pasture ecology and productivity, grazing management for ruminants
  • Pasture management for horses, weeds including noxious species
  • Mixed species grazing, winter pasture management
  • Fencing and watering systems
  • Optimizing management for stored forages
  • Fertility management of forages
  • Role of grazing management in regenerative agriculture, biomass crops
  • Managed grasslands and biodiversity
Labs & Seminars:

Lab topics include:

  • Library sessions on research and referencing
  • Seed germination
  • Forage legume species ID
  • Quiz on forage legume species. forage grass species
  • Assessing hay quality and quiz on forage grass species
  • Data compiling, analysis and review of labs 2 to 5. Weeds/noxious plants
  • Field trip details TBC
  • Group presentations

Course Assignments and Tests:

Assignment or Test Contribution to Final Grade
Plant species assignment 5%
Lab assignments 25%
Mid-term quiz 10%
Group project 25%
Discussion 10%
Final exam 25%

Final examination:

Please refer to WebAdvisor for exam schedule and location.

Course Resources:

Required Texts:

Sharpe, Paul. 2019. Horse Pasture Management. Elsevier Inc. pp. 442.  (Available Online through the University of Guelph library). 

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

Each lab will be available on CourseLink. (Lab Manual)

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..

Field Trips:

Busses will be provided to take students on field trips (if confirmed) during the lecture and lab times of this course. All details will be posted on CourseLink. Be sure to dress appropriately to be outside for up to 2 hours.

Course Policies:

Grading Policies

Unless otherwise stated, the grade of any assignment will be reduced by 10% per day for each business day beyond the due date.

Course Policy on Group Work:

Individual Grades for a Group Assignment will be weighted by the Instructor based on a confidential assessment by each group members regarding the relative contribution and collaboration by their fellow group members to the research, writing, and presentation.

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

Electronic recording of classes is expressly forbidden without the prior consent of the Instructor. This prohibition extends to all components of the course, including, but not limited to, lectures, seminars, and lab instruction. 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:

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

University Policies

Academic Consideration

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The Academic Misconduct Policy is detailed in the University Calenders:


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