World population is projected to reach 9 billion within 50 years and food production needs to double in a sustainable manner in order to feed human population. This profound challenge will be met by improving our knowledge and management of agroecosystems. This unit of study is designed to provide an introductory understanding of the biology and management of plants in dryland agroecosystems, with a focus on major Australian broad acre crops. Dryland agroecosystems can be defined as ecosystems modified for the purpose of producing crops, pastures and animals in environments where water limits productivity during part of the year (and are typical in Australian agriculture). These agroecosystems are characterised by regular agricultural interventions, such as cultivation, sowing, nutrient, weed, pest and disease management, and harvest. The program will involve developing an understanding of the interactions between the environment, crops/pastures and agricultural management in dryland agroecosystems. The model for describing and analysing agroecosystems will be centred on a typical cropping cycle, with an emphasis on cereals. You will gain knowledge and skills on crop physiological, growth and development responses to the combined climatic, edaphic, biotic and management factors in the growing environment. The unit will also provide a sound understanding and analysis of the practical farming framework in which this knowledge is applied through weed, disease and pest management, approaches to managing climate variability and precision agriculture. There will be a focus on assessing the effects of climate and weather in dryland agroecosystems, especially on understanding crop-water-nutrition relationships. Successful students will be able to appreciate and analyse the most important limitations to crop production and yield in Australia and how those limitations can be minimized or overcome through science-based planning and agronomic management practices.
Lectures two hours per week; tutorial three hours per week; three one day field trips
Quizzes, practical report, exam
Pratley J (Ed.) (2003) Principles of Field Crop Production. 4th edition. Oxford University Press: Melbourne, Australia. Marschner P (Ed) (2012) Marschner's Mineral Nutrition of Higher Plants, 3rd edition. Elsevier, London Anderson WK, Garlinge JR (Eds) (2000) The Wheat Book. Department of Agriculture Western Australia: South Perth, Australia. Whelan, B.M., Taylor, J.A. (2013) Precision Agriculture for Grain Production Systems. CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne, Australia. Pearson CJ, Ison RL (1998) Agronomy of Grassland Systems. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, New York, Melbourne.
Understanding of experimental design and analysis including dependent and independent variables, random and representative sampling, t-tests a simple designs and interpretation of univariate analysis.