- What are the similarities and differences among crop management approaches?
- What is the underlying ecology of crop production?
- Why are different crops prevalent in different regions?
- How can cropping systems and management strategies capitalize on ecological processes to optimize productivity?
- What are some management tools that can be used to improve crop production and agricultural sustainability?
This course emphasizes the ecological principles underlying crop production systems. These principles can be applied to develop cropping systems and practices that can take advantage of ecological processes to improve production and agricultural sustainability. Crop production will be examined in the context of management approaches, environmental resources and constraints, and socioeconomic considerations.
Case studies will be used to illustrate principles. Several problem-solving tools will be studied and applied to systematically analyze problems and develop solutions.
With an understanding of various management strategies and crop ecology, you will be better prepared to develop and evaluate crop management recommendations and plans.
|Dr. Byron Sleugh
Try anytime! If I am unavailable, please leave or send a brief message, and I will get back to you as soon as possible. If you are difficult to reach, please suggest a time and way to contact you that would be most convenient for you; I will do my best to connect with you then. Appointments for phone, e-mail, or office conferences can be arranged.
Tel: (559) 494-3327
Fax: (866) 290-9723
1883 Everglade Ave.
Clovis, CA 93619
National Research Council (NRC). 1989. Alternative Agriculture. National Academy Press, Washington DC.
Although this book is somewhat dated now, it does provide an excellent set of real case studies. Each is well researched and thorough, yet concisely presented. Obviously, technologies, regulations, and other facets of agriculture have changed since this book was written; some of the 'alternative' practices described are now rather commonplace. We will use this book to illustrate principles, and to provide real situations to which we can apply the concepts learned.
Time management is important in this course. Previous students report spending an average of about 8 hours/week on it, including the time to read lesson material, participate in discussions, complete assignments, and study. Some weeks will require more time, and others less. To help you plan your time, please refer to the lesson table at the end of the syllabus, and to the course calendar in the Student Notebook System. Be sure to check the online course calendar regularly for up-to-date start and due dates. Avoid getting behind!
Need more time to complete a lesson? Please contact the instructor as soon as possible. Unless the instructor approves other arrangements, a 10% per day penalty will be assessed for late assignments and lesson reflections; items more than 4 days late will not be accepted.
Get the most that you can from this course. Here are some study tips.
- Start each lesson on the date indicated on the calendar.
Spread your study time over several daysyou'll learn the material more thoroughly and retain it better. Work ahead when you know that you will be out-of-town or unable to do a lesson during its designated period. Don't get behind!
As you begin each lesson, preview each of its discussion topics and assignment; use the lesson map to rapidly locate these. The preview will better prepare you to participate in the discussion and to complete the assignment.
- Do each In Detail as you come across its link in the lesson.
In Details contain required information. Each FYI link for more information about a topic. FYI links are optional unless otherwise noted.
- Do each Study Question and Try This! as encountered.
These interactive features are specifically designed to enhance your learning, to provide opportunities to apply the information presented, and to enable you to evaluate your understanding of the material. They often expand on the concepts and contain important information, so don't skip these.
Be sure to submit all assignments on time. They are an integral part of the course. Please note that some assignments overlap lessons; these should be started as soon as they are assigned so that they may be completed in a thoughtful and timely manner.
- Discussion Topics.
Discussions are more interesting and informative when everyone makes multiple contributions to the 'conversation.' Don't wait until the due date to make your initial posting! (Your discussion score is based on your total contribution to the given discussion.)
- Lesson Reflection is required. Its purpose is to enhance your learning and information retention. The first two questions are designed to help you reflect on the lesson and obtain instructor feedback on your learning. The last two questions are designed to help you evaluate and improve your learning skills in this uncommon learning environment. Your answers also help course developers improve lesson and course design for future students in this course.
- Interact with your classmates and instructor. Visit the discussion boards often! Discussions need not be limited to assigned topicsuse the discussion board (or e-mail) to ask questions, share an interesting article or observation, or comment on current and relevant events. General announcements will also be posted on the main discussion board. Keep informedcheck the main discussion board frequently. If you work ahead, be sure to go back and check the discussion boards (and post your comments and responses to classmates) during that lesson's scheduled period
- Do the readings.
Readings from the text and other materials included in your course packet supplement or expand on the information presented in the lesson and are required. Don't skip these opportunities to learn.
- Something unclear?
Please consult with your instructor and/or classmates.
Course Grading System
Your course grade will be composed of the following categories.
To calculate your score, a) total the number of points accumulated in each category; b) multiply that total by that category's percentage contribution towards your overall grade; and c) sum the categories to estimate your grade. This general scale and plus/minus grading will be applied to determine course grades:
|A's||90% and above|
- Assignments provide opportunities to apply the information learned and to practice your professionalism. Both content and writing quality count. Assignments will be evaluated based on content, clarity in the presentation (ideas arranged logically and flow smoothly), and writing mechanics (proper spelling and grammar).
- Lesson Reflection appears at the end of each lesson. Each Lesson Reflection is worth 10 possible points.
- Discussion Participation is graded. Points are earned through your active participation and based on your total contribution to the discussion of the given topic. The number of
points earned will reflect the quality of your contribution. You are encouraged to draw on your experience, information learned in this and other courses, and any other pertinent information. Visit the discussion board frequently and respond to your classmates' postings and their comments on your postings. Postings made after the topic's closing date will not be included in the evaluation of your participation unless prior arrangements are made.
Discussion Groups. The class will be divided into three discussion groups. You will only have access to your group's discussion board; thus, no need to be concerned about which group is yours. (Everyone has access to the Main discussion board.)
Discussion Moderator. Group members will take turns serving as discussion moderator. The purpose of moderating is to build your leadership and professional skills. The moderator's task is to promote thoughtful and in-depth discussion on the given topic, and to encourage everyone to contribute to the conversation. The moderator may start the conversation by asking one or more open-ended question relevant to the topic. The moderator will respond to others with follow-up comments, expand on comments, ask additional questions, or request for clarification, as needed. If the discussion becomes fragmented or gets off track, the moderator will re-focus the conservation on the topic. Finally, at the end of the discussion, the moderator will summarize the group's discussion and communicate the summary to the entire class via the Main discussion boardanother opportunity to practice your professional skills. If we do not have enough students per group to cover the number of Moderator session, you may be assigned an additional Discussion topic to moderate either by yourself or jointly with a group mate.
The summary should communicate the highlights of the group's discussion in just a few sentences (i.e., no more than 150-200 words). Focus on the main points made and any conclusions or recommendations that came out of the discussion; do not include who said what in the summary. The moderator will post discussion topic summaries within the assigned discussion topic for the rest of the class to read. I suggest that the summary be shared first within the group to check that the group agrees that it is representative of the discussion. The summary should be written logically, flow smoothly, and be free of writing and spelling errors. In this way, each group can learn from the others without having to read all of the individual postings. It's interesting to compare the findings of the different groups. Of course, the conversation can be continued on the Main discussion board.
- Main Discussion Forum. This is an excellent place to post questions and comments relevant to the lesson or of general interest. The Main board is also used for general communications among students and instructor and summaries of the group discussions. Although postings on the Main discussion board are not graded (except summaries), you are expected to read and participate in this forum regularly.
- Professionalism. Practice and polish your professionalism. Professionalism includes your active participation in discussions, timely postings and submission of assignments, constructive reviews of assignments, clear and logical expression of ideas and thought, and general esprit de corps. Because most communication in this course is written, writing quality is important.
- Exams. There are no exams in this course. Rather, your level of understanding of the principles and concepts presented will be evaluated through assignments and discussions. Assignments and discussions provide opportunities for you to demonstrate and apply what you have learned.
- Late Submissions. Unless the instructor approves other arrangements, a 10% per day penalty will be assessed for late assignments and lesson reflections; items more than 4 days late will not be accepted.
This list of lessons is provided to help you plan ahead and anticipate the number and approximate closing and due date of required discussions topics and assignments for each lesson; minor changes may be made during the semester. These due dates are tentative and may change. Refer to the online course calendar in the Student Notebook System, as well as the Main discussion board, for up-to-date information.
Assignments, graded discussion postings, and lesson reflections are due by 8:00 a.m. Central Standard Time on the due date, unless otherwise stated on the course calendar or prior arrangements are made with the instructor. Again, please note that some assignments and discussions will be completed over a period of several weeks or lessons. Lesson reflections are due on the start date of the next lesson. Discussion summaries are generally due two days after the topic's closing date.
The point value of each discussion and assignment reflects the relative amount of time and effort required. For example, some discussion topics ask for well-reasoned opinion, whereas others require additional reading. Regardless of the potential points for the given discussion topic, moderating is worth a total of 20 possible points for each discussion topic: 10 for moderating the discussion itself, plus 10 points for the quality of the summary.
Caveat: All closing and due dates listed in this table are tentative. Where these dates differ from the ones shown on the online calendar, adhere to the ones on the online calendar.Be sure to check the course calendar weekly for current start and due dates, and other important scheduled events.
|Lesson Topic||Discussion Topics||Assignments|
|Management Approaches||DT 1.1 (15)||None|
|Challenges in Agriculture||DT 2.1 (15)
DT 2.2 (15)
|Agricultural Ecosystems||DT 3.1 (30)||A 3.1 (75)|
|Management Tools||DT 4.1 (60)
DT 4.2 (15)
|A 4.1 (75)|
|Indicators and Monitoring Tools||DT 5.1 (30)
DT 5.2 (45)
|A 5.1 (50)|
|Crop Geography and Adaptation||DT 6.1 (15)||None|
|Crop Functions||DT 7.1 (30)
DT 7.2 (45)
|Cropping Systems 1—Rotations and Sequential Cropping||DT 8.1 (60)
Part A-3rd wk Oct
Part B-4th wk Oct
Part C-4th wk Oct
Part D-early Nov
|A 8.1 (200)
peer review – early Nov.;
final edition – early Dec.
|Cropping Systems 2—Intercropping||DT 9.1 (15)
DT 9.2 (15)
(Note: This 2-week lesson contains a lot of material. Don't procrastinate on it!)
|DT 10.1 (15)
DT 10.2 (30)
DT 10.3 (15)
|Forage Growth, Development, and Quality||DT 11.1 (15)||A 11.1 (50)|
|Forage Management||DT 12.1 (15)
DT 12.2 (30)
|None (Final edition of
A 8.1 due early Dec.)
|Forage Effects on Ecosystem Processes and Environmental Quality||DT 13.1 (15)
DT 13.2 (30)
Discussion Topic Grading Criteria
Discussion participation requires you to contribute at least one posting to each assigned discussion topic. The number of points earned will reflect the quality of your total contribution to the discussion. Discussion contributions will be evaluated on these criteria:
|Criteria||Grading Level 1||Grading Level 2||Possible Points|
|Postings||Posted a response to the topic or to someone else's comment s on it (1 pt.)||Responded to topic and at least one classmate's or instructor's posting (4 pts.)||4|
|Contribution to Overall Discussion||Limited depth of posting; did not bring in new, relevant points (2 pts.)||In-depth posting adding much to and advancing the discussion (4 pts.)||4|
|Connection to Concepts and/or Principles||Comments related to topic, but did not directly connect to concepts and principles (1 pt.)||Clearly connected comments with concepts and principles (2 pts.)||2|
|Response to Classmate's Posting||Added little to classmate's posting (1 pt.)||Added much to classmate's posting (2 pts.)||2|
|Posted by Deadline||Not posted by closing deadline (0 pts.)||Posted by deadline (3 pts.)||3|
Please note that some topics have a greater number of possible points. Possible points for each criterion will be adjusted relative to the total possible points for the particular topic.