Learning outcomes of the course unit
To provide the student with elementary knowledge relating to the process of plant production, with special reference to the processes of growth and development, maturation, harvest and storage of plant food productions for processing. Knowledge on the effects of agricultural practices on crop production (yield and quality) is also provided.
Objective of the course is also to provide the student with knowledge on specific crop productions and their possible transformation at farm level, for fresh uses, conservation and industrial transformation. The student will acquire knowledge on various food crop products and the effects of the environment and agricultural management on food quality (healthy, nutritional, technological).
Course contents summary
INTRODUCTION TO PLANT PRODUCTION. Factors of production. Origins of agriculture and of cultivated crops. Yield and quality.
GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT. Development and dry matter partitioning. Analysis and indexes of growth (canopy).
SEED PROPAGATION. Seed characteristics and germination in field crops. Dormancy. Sowing and sowing machinery.
AGAMIC PROPAGATION. Apomixy. Layering and other traditional techniques. Cuttings and grafting. Micropropagation. Nursery.
CLIMATIC VARIABLES: radiation, temperature, rainfall. Damages to crops by high and low temperatures.
PLANTS AND WATER: needs of the crops. Available water in the soil. Field capacity and wilting point. Effects of drought and water flooding. Methods of irrigation and their efficiency.
PLANTS AND MINERAL ELEMENTS. Main mineral nutrients; excess and deficiency. Antagonisms. Interactions. Macronutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulphur. Micronutrients: iron, manganese, boron, zinc, copper, molybdenum, chloride.
FERTILIZATION. The main available mineral fertilizers. Organic fertilizers. Fertirrigation. Needs of crops.
WEEDS AND HERBICIDES. Agronomical and chemical control. Effects of herbicides and their behaviour in the soil.
SOIL: physical, chemical and biological properties. Management of water flooding. Drainage.
ROOT SYSTEMS. Development of the root system of field and fruit crops. Methods of root investigations. Indexes of root growth.
SOIL TILLAGE. Preparatore and complementary tillage operations. Plough and ploughing. Other tillage tools. Alterantive techniques.
PRODUCTION SYSTEMS. Monoculture, polyculture; intercropping; crop rotation. Organic farming. Cover crops.
PLANT AND SOIL WATER. Hydrologic cycle. Goals of soil water management. Irrigated crop production.
MAIN HERBACEOUS FOOD PLANTS that are at the basis of human nutrition, including those of warm environments:
Cereals: Wheat, Rice, Maize, Barley, Sorghum.
Grain legumes: Soybean, Bean, Peanut, Pea, Faba.
Starch plants: Potato, Cassava, Sweet potato, Yam.
Vegetables: Tomato, Onion, Cabbage, Lettuce, Carrot, Mushrooms, etc.
Sugar plants :Sugarcane, Sugar beet.
Oil plants: Sunflower, Sesame, Canola (oilseed rape), Castor.
For each species the considered aspects are:
Botany, morphology, anatomy, physiology of food plants, with special reference to edible parts, and to the processes leading to their formation on the plant;
Genetics - Origin and distribution of species, subspecies and cultivars, and their characters of hardiness and quality;
Cultivation - Prevailing agricultural techniques, and their effects on quantity and quality of productions;
Transformation and storage - In farm or site techniques adopted for conditioning and preserving products.
Fabbri A., 2001 - Produzioni Vegetali. Edagricole.
Giardini L., 2002 - Agronomia generale : ambientale e aziendale. 5. ed. – Patron, Bologna.
Giardini L., 2003. A come Agronomia. Patron, Bologna.
Bonciarelli F. 1995 - Fondamenti di Agronomia Generale. Edagricole.
Hartmann H.T., Kester D.E. - Propagazione delle piante. Edagricole.
Landi R., 1999 - Agronomia ambiente. Edagricole, Bologna.
Baldoni R., Giardini L., 2000 - Coltivazioni erbacee.Patron, Bologna (vol. I e II)
Rehm S., Espig G., 1997 - La coltivazione delle piantetropicali e subtropicali. Edagricole, Bologna
Rinallo C., 2005 - Botanica delle piante alimentari. Piccin.
Lecture and practical lessons
Assessment methods and criteria
Test with open questions and oral exam.