Agroecology and cropping systems

A.Y. 2019/2020
Overall hours
AGR/02 AGR/03
Learning objectives
The objectives of this course are:
- To provide fundamental knowledge and tools about agro-ecosystem management.
- To provide knowledge about the analysis and the interpretation of agroecosystems and on the interaction between climatic driving forces and agro-ecosystems.
- To provide knowledge of genetics, phenology, morphology, physiology and agronomy of woody plants for the basic knowledge of tree-cropping systems.
Expected learning outcomes
The students will acquire the skills needed for understanding and interpreting the ecological mechanisms driving crop production processes and their interactions with the management activities of the farmer. Moreover, students will obtain competences in biology and ecology of woody plants, and about agronomy of tree-cropping systems.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Course syllabus
The following topics will be discussed:
Teaching unit 1:
1. Agroecology: Definitions, aims, methods of analysis of the agroecosystems
2. The climate system: climate determinants, the greenhouse effect and the general circulation
3. The atmospheric driving variables of the agroecosystems and their relations with plants growth. How to measure the atmospheric driving variables
4. Geosatistics - reconstruction (spatialization) of air temperature
5. Environmental thermal resources and crop phenology.
6. The climate classifications
7. Climate changes and their effects on agriculture
8. Weather forecasts at different time scales and their use in agriculture
9. Soil, water resource and water balance
10. Net Primary Production of crops - simulation models.
11. Agronomical practices of plant defense and protection.
12. Agroecosystems management and planning - the agrometeorological characterization of agricultural areas.

Teaching unit 2:
1. Structural aspects and management. Tree crop structure. Growth habitus. The training systems.
2. Physiology of development, grow and fruiting.
3. Pruning and canopy managements.
4. Propagation techniques and nursery organization. The rootstock.
5. Phenology. Soil and climate effects on tree cropping systems: limiting factors and land suitability to fruit trees.
6. Introduction to tree crop ecophysiology. Cultural techniques: soil, water and nutritional managements.
7. The main tree-cropping systems in arboriculture fruit culture.
8. Traditional, integrated and organic farming systems.
Tutorials. Tree structures. Analysis of some tree crop systems in Italy. Recognition of the main tree crops.
Prerequisites for admission
No prerequisites.
Teaching methods
Classroom-taught lessons and exercises (teaching unit 1), classroom-taught lessons and in orchard practice exercises (teaching unit 2)
Teaching Resources
The student will find all the teaching material on the class Ariel webpages:
Teaching unit 1:
Lessons presentations
Excels files with solved problems.
The book "Agrometeorologia" by Prof. Luigi Mariani.
All the material will be constantly uploaded following the lessons during the season.
Suggested book:
Agronomia (2017) Ceccon P., Fagnano M., Grignani C., Monti M., Orlandini S. EdiSES, 593 pp.
Teaching unit 2:
Lessons presentations
Suggested book:
Arboricoltura generale (2012) A cura di Silviero Sansavini. Patron Editore, 532 pp.
Assessment methods and Criteria
Regarding the teaching unit 1, exam will be a written test with:
- 3 numerical problems based on the exercises performed during the class and 3 open questions referred to the lessons program (spatialization of air temperature, estimation of thermal resources for crop development, crop water balance and simulation of crop primary production.
- 3 open questions about characterization of acro-ecosystems, characterization of climate and its interaction with agriculture, atmospheric driving variables of agro-ecosystems and their relation with plants, weather forecasts and agriculture, soil and water resources, crops Net Primary Production, agronomical practices of plant defense and protection.
Regarding the teaching unit 2, the assessment of the actual learning of the contents and topics covered in the course lessons takes place through an oral interview.
The knowledge of the aspects concerning the physiology of the development, growth, fruiting and propagation of tree plants, specifically fruit trees, will be assessed; cultivation techniques and fruit trees cultivation systems, in relation to the pedoclimatic environment.
The evaluation is expressed by a mark out of thirty, resulting from the mathematical average of the marks obtained in the 2 single modules, approximated to the unit.
To take the exam it is necessary to register within the deadline set on the SIFA.
The mark is communicated to each individual student by e-mail automated by the University's verbalization system.
Unit 1
AGR/02 - AGRONOMY AND FIELD CROPS - University credits: 0
Practicals: 16 hours
Lessons: 24 hours
Professor: Cola Gabriele
Unit 2
AGR/02 - AGRONOMY AND FIELD CROPS - University credits: 0
Field activity: 4 hours
Practicals: 12 hours
Lessons: 24 hours
Professor: Spinardi Anna