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Facoltā di Scienze Agrarie e Alimentari Universitā degli Studi di Milano
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Agroecology and cropping systems - teaching unit 1
Code: G260RA
Teacher:  Fausto Gusmeroli
Year: 
Term: 
CFU: 
CFU subdivision: Lectures: 3
Practices in classroom: 1
Basic aims:  The corse is aimed at providing fundamental knowledge about the
management of agro-ecosystems. The first part is focused in
particular on the analysis and the interpretation of the systems
and on interaction between climatic driving forces and agro-
ecosystem. Te scond part provides the concepts of genetics,
phenology, morphology, physiology, agronomy and plant trees for
basic knowledge of tree-cropping systems.
Acquired skills:  Students can get competences needed for understanding and
interpreting the ecological mechanisms ruling crop production
processes and their interactions with the management activities of
the farmer. Moreover, students will get competnces in biology and
ecology of woody plants, agronomy, cropping systems of trees.
Course contents:  The agroecology: purpose; historical background; the Neolithic
revolution, the agrarian revolution and the green revolution;
carrying capacity, ecological balance and sustainability; the
challenges posed to agriculture by population growth, land
degradation and climate change.
Agroecosystems: complexity in agroecology and the holistic
approach; subsidiary energy, its relations with the complexity
and the changes to the abiotic and biotic system; operation and
regulation of the agroecosystem; the sustainability criteria of
the agroecosystem.
The agro-biodiversity; agriculture at high and low energy input;
the organic agriculture; the integrated agriculture; the biotech
agriculture. Crop rotations and polyculture cropping systems.
Program:  The agroecology: aims, historical background; the Neolithic
revolution and the Green revolution; carrying capacity, ecological
footprint and sustainability; the challenges posed by population
growth, land degradation and climate change in agriculture.

Agro-ecosystems: complexity in agroecology and systemic
approach; the auxiliary energy, its relations with the complexity
and changes to the abiotic and biotic component of the system;
operation and regulation of the agrecosystem;sustainability
criteria of the agroecosystem; agriculture at high and low energy
input; organic, integrated and conservative agriculture: definitions
and general criteria for fertility management and control of
adversity. The biotech agriculture.

The agricultural biodiversity: concepts, levels, meaning and
measurement.

Crop rotations dand polyculture cropping systems: definitions,
criteria and technical aspects.
Prerequisites:  Adequate background is needed in mathematics, physiscs, chemistry and statistics and it may derive from previous classes of the same degree course.
Preparatory instructions:  Though propedeuticites are not strictly required, students are kindly advised to take first year examinations before attending the course.
Learning materials:  Slides of the lectures and tutorials.
Referenced books:
1. Miguel A. Altieri. Agroecology, The Science of Sustainable Agriculture. Westview Press, 1995 Second Edition.
2. Fausto Gusmeroli. Prati, pascoli e paesaggio alpino (first part). www.sozooalp.it, 2012.
Other info:  Oral exam at the end of the course, consisting in the presentation of a topic chosen by the candidate in the program and a series questions about the content of the lessons and exercises.
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Program of Agroecology and cropping systems - teaching unit 1 (pdf version)
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