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Facoltā di Scienze Agrarie e Alimentari Universitā degli Studi di Milano
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General Agronomy
Code: G280E-
Teacher:  Pietro Marino Gallina
CFU subdivision: Lectures: 6,5
Practices in classroom: 1
Other: 0,5
Basic aims:  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.
Acquired skills:  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 contents:  Aims and methods of agronomy. Role of meteorological variables in crop production: radiation, temperature, humidity, wind, hydrometeors. Defence of crops against bad weather and improvement of microclimate at crop level. Physical properties of soils. Soil erosion, waterlogging, practices to reduce erosion and waterlogging. Irrigation methods and water quality. Tillage: purposes and types. Fertility of soils and fertilization management. Weed flora and weeding. Seeds, production and control. Tutorials: a day on farm, calculation of fertilization plans.
Program:  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 the experimental farm of the faculty.
Training to calculate and compile fertilization plans.
Training to recognize weeds.
Prerequisites:  Knowledge of differences between monocotiledon e dycotiledon plants. Basic of photosynthesis. Basic of plant respiration. Basic of role of N, P and K in plants. Basic elements of conversion among measure units. Basic of geometry (surfaces and volumes computation). Basic of chemistry.
Preparatory instructions:  General biology and genetics. General and systematic botany. General, inorganic and organic chemistry. Physics. Mathematics . Data statistical analisy. Informatics fundamentals. Crop biochemistry and physiology. Soil science. Soil chemistry. Soil microbiology.
Learning materials:  Giardini L. (2012). L`Agronomia. Per conservare il futuro. Pātron editore,
pagg. 704, VI edizione. ISBN: 9788855531689
Other info:  Final examination is composed by a written test, concerning the drawing up of a fertilization plan, and an oral discussion of five subjects randomly selected from the programm. The written test and the discussion of each selected subject are evaluated with a score from 0 to 30. To pass the exam must be reported a score of at least 18 in the written test and in the discussion of each selected subject. The final score is the average of the 6 scores.
Program of General Agronomy (pdf version)
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