AP2A66-Crop Agronomy

Module Provider: School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring / Summer module
Pre-requisites: AP1A12 Introduction to Crop Production
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2020/1

Module Convenor: Dr Paola Tosi

Email: p.tosi@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

You'll learn which factors need to be taken into consideration when growing an arable crop, how to best address these factors to make appropriate husbandry choices, and how to assess costs and benefits of a management decision. Learning will be via a combination of in-class lectures and field practicals; you will be given the exciting task of managing your own cereal crop at the experimental farm as part of in-course work. The module should interest anyone whose career will involve arable crop production, but will be of particular relevance to those wishing to develop as agronomists or farm managers.


To enable students to manage a UK cereal crops at a basic level, and to understand the nutritional cycles and agrochemical use behind arable production.

Assessable learning outcomes:

Factual knowledge of seasonal relationships and growth patterns of selected arable crops, including at least cereals, oilseed rape, and selected legumes. Outline knowledge of how human-directed evolution has constructed and altered these crops. Ability to assess costs and benefits of a management action in monetary, yield and quality terms Ability to construct rotations plans and an understanding of the constraints on these including tillage effects. Make appropriate choices of fertilize r forms, volumes and timing, including consideration of both effects on crops and the wider environment. Elementary factual knowledge of some major disease, pest and weed problems and ability to discuss methods of management in selected cases. Elementary factual knowledge about pesticide groups, use and stewardship.

Additional outcomes:

Greater numeracy

Improved confidence and selectivity with computer-based data-handling and analysis

Confidence in managing a real crop

Improved brief oral presentations

Improved literature searching, use of refereed papers and judgements on reliability of sources


Outline content:

Includes: Field experience of a growing cereal crop throughout most growth stages. Management of and assessment of medium size plots of a cereal crop. Study of origin, diversity and history of major temperate crops typical of UK farming systems and suitable contrasting crops; growth patterns; relationship to environment: temperature, nutrient and water needs and responses; harvest and sowing dates in relation to climate; effects of soil type and fertilization needs; pest and disease managemen t, rationale of rotation constructions and trade-offs.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Lectures; Library research and individual reading. Group learning in the management of a real cereal crop, researching advice on resources. Record-keeping of the growth of that crop and comparison with other groups; analysis of crop data. Small-group presentations in classroom and field. Reflective report preparation on choices made during cereal growing. Collection and examination of weeds and crop plants at various growth stages.

Note that some of the summer te rm contact hours will be undertaken in the summer term at the end of Part 1.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 13 13
Seminars 4 5
Practicals classes and workshops 6 6 4
Guided independent study: 72 71 6
Total hours by term 95 95 10
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Report 30
Oral assessment and presentation 5
Set exercise 20
Class test administered by School 45

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

  • Oral group presentation 5% total.

  • A report on the cereal growing exercise: 30% of total.  Although students will be working in groups, these should be individual reports.

  • Herbarium collection of pressed weed and crop specimens  (20%). Herbarium submission by hard copy to the teaching office (15%). In class identification of plants from herbarium (5%).

  • In class Short answer/MCQ tests to be carried on BlackBoard: 20% of total. Concentrating on factual aspects covered during lectures.

Formative assessment methods:

Comment on oral work.  Answers to MCQ class tests.  Classroom based problem sessions on fertiliser use

Penalties for late submission:

The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.
The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

Assessment requirements for a pass:
An overall mark of 40%.

Reassessment arrangements:

Re-examination via in class MCQ in the re-examination period.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

  1. Required text books: Available free as pdfs

  2. Specialist equipment or materials: Hand-lens desirable but not essential

  3. Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear: Boots or rubber boots needed, warm clothing

  4. Travel, accommodation and subsistence: Bicycle or lift-share desirable for convenient independent access to Sonning field plots, if possible

Last updated: 27 July 2020


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