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Unit of study_

AGRI2001: Plant Management in Agroecosystems

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.

Code AGRI2001
Academic unit Life and Environmental Sciences Academic Operations
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge:
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

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. explain the defining features of dryland agroecosystems
  • LO2. assess the value, and extent, of importance dryland crops
  • LO3. identify key crop growth stages and the importance in agroecosystem management
  • LO4. evaluate the relationship between crop growth and soil and aerial environments and the importance of water and water-use efficiency
  • LO5. analyse the physiology of crops - including germination, vegetative and reproductive growth and development, transpiration, and mineral nutrient acquisition and use
  • LO6. evaluate the value of biological nitrogen fixation and crop rotation in agroecosystem management
  • LO7. assess the importance of integrated methodologies for weed, disease and pests management in cropping systems
  • LO8. recognise and justify approaches and technologies for managing spatial and temporal variability in farming systems
  • LO9. review the benefits of an integrated systems approach to managing agricultural systems
  • LO10. discuss and rank the importance of sustainability issues in dryland farming systems
  • LO11. develop and articulate management options that will increase crop productivity per unit area and rainfall to produce long-term, sustainable profits, while at the same time preserving natural resources such as water, soil and biodiversity.