General Agronomy

A.Y. 2019/2020
Overall hours
Learning objectives
Gain an integrated view of meteorological, edaphic and biological factors which contribute to crop production. Understanding the effect of agronomic interventions on factors of production.
Ability to understand the reasons of different cultivation paths in open fields under different conditions of climate, soil and availability of resources and different goals in terms of production and environmental impact.
Expected learning outcomes
Knowing how to diagnose the state of the agroecosystem by integrating visual assessments and assessments based on measurement of chemical or physical variables related to atmosphere, soil and crop. Being able to identify the need of soil arrangement or interventions to improve soil fertility before cultivation. Knowing how to define the quantitative aspects of interventions and their timing of a cultivation path.
Course syllabus and organization

Unique edition

Lesson period
Second semester
Course syllabus
Introduction: field of study of agronomy; crop production and the system within it is obtained; approaches in agronomy studies; interventions on production factors; determinants of agriculture and cropping systems.
The atmosphere and its variables.
Radiation: passive and active behavior of bodies, the laws of radiation; extinction of radiation through the atmosphere; the budget of radiation at the surface level and net radiation (Rn). Energy budget Rn and its terms (G, H, LE, P and R).
Radiation and crop production: crop growth rate and LAI; interception and radiation use efficiency; effects of plant population density on ligth interception; potential, maximum and real yield; agronomic interventions to optimize the use of radiation; morphogenenetic effects of radiation
Temperature and crop production: relationship between energy balance and temperature; temperature of air, soil and plants; relationship between temperature and crop growth rate; degree day and their calculation; effect of temperature on morphogenesis (vernalisation, dormancy; thermoperiodism); injuri of crops from low and high temperatures; microclimate mitigation (covering, shading, mulching); damage from frosts, classification and causes of frosts.
Air turbulence: effects on plant-atmosphere exchanges, thermal and mechanical turbulence of air; wind erosion of soils; wind damage of crops and their protecion through cultural practices and windbreaks.
Hydrometeors: physical processes; classification; rain (amount, distribution, frequency, intensity, useful rainfall); hail (formation, damage to crops, crops defence).
The agricultural soils: power; inhibition layers, porosity and its measurement, water infiltration speed, structure stability, effects of agronomic practices on structure stability. Physical properties of soils and effects on response to tillage.
Waterlogging and anoxia: effects on soil and plant; surface and subsurface waterlogging, need of unsaturated soil heigth for root growth; practices to prevent soil waterlogging.
Water erosion of soils: measurement; physical processes; types of erosion (splash, laminar and channel); universal soil loss equation (USLE).
Tillage: aims; actions of different tillage machines (scarifiers, rippers, cultivators tooth harrows, moldboard plows and discs, disc harrows, rotary harrows, hoes, diggers, rollers); classification of tillage.
Sowing: seed bed requirements; calculate the rate of seeding; techniques for seeding.
Improving physical and biological fertility of soils: strategies, role of organic matter in physical and biological fertility of soils, action to prevent soil organic matter depletion; dynamics of mineralization of native soil organic matter and organic matter added with crop residues and manures; humic budget; marketed organic amendments (raw materials, production processes, classification, use); manure (production, treatments, use); green manure (objectives and management).
Amendment to improve soil pH: lime requirement; mitigation of constraints in calcareous soils; amendment of sodic and saline soils.
Fertilization: response of crops to nutrients applications, efficiency of fertilization, estimation of phosphorus and potassium needs; calculation of simplified nitrogen budget; timing and methods of fertilizers and manure distribution; review of manures and fertilizers properties.
Weeds and their control: quantitative and qualitative damage to crops due to weeds; soil seed bank; weeds classification; strategy of weeding; use of herbicides.
Plant propagation materials: types; production, control, certification.
Field trip at one or two frams focused on cropping systems. Visit to the laboratories and fields of CREA-SCS addressed at certifying seeds.
Training to calculate fertilization plans.
Training to recognize weeds.
Prerequisites for admission
Knowing differences between monocotyledons and dicotyledons. Knowing the basic reaction of photosynthesis. Knowing the basic elements of respiration. Knowing where photosynthesis takes place. knowing basic aspects of N, P and K role in plants. Knowing how to make equivalences between measurement units (of linear measures, of areas and volumes). Basic elements of geometry (calculation of areas and volumes). Basic elements of chemistry.
Teaching methods
Lessons, class excercises to set up fertilization plans and to recognize weeds, field trips.
P. Ceccon, M. Fagnano, C. Grignani, M. Monti, S. Orlandini, 2017. Agronomia, EdiSES, ISBN 9788879599658.
Course slides published on Ariel: Agronomy project (prof. Marino Gallina Pietro)
Assessement methods and criteria
The final examination consists of a written test and a test of recognition of 5 weeds in different phenological stages. The written test includes 10 questions on the topics covered in the course; some require calculations or graphs to illustrate relationships. The written test contributes to the final mark with 28 points while that of recognition with 3 points.
AGR/02 - AGRONOMY AND FIELD CROPS - University credits: 8
Field activity: 8 hours
Practicals: 16 hours
Lessons: 52 hours
Educational website(s)