Managing Agro-Ecosystems (AGRO3004)


This unit of study is designed to provide a solid introductory understanding of the biology and management of cropping systems, with a focus on major Australian broad acre crops. The course examines a typical crop cycle, with an emphasis on cereals, especially wheat. An overview of the main crops grown in Australia is presented. The relationship between crop growth and soil and aerial environments is discussed, and the importance of water and water-use efficiency is highlighted. The physiology of crops--including germination, photosynthesis, vegetative and reproductive growth and development, transpiration, photosynthate partitioning, and mineral nutrient acquisition and use--is studied as the basis of crop yield and production. Biological processes associated with seed (grain) development are described. Weed management, pasture management, and precision agriculture are discussed in theoretical and practical terms, and an introduction to crop adaptation and breeding is presented. Successful students will attain the ability to appreciate and analyse some of the most important limitations to crop yield and production in Australia and how those limitations can be minimized or overcome through science-based planning and management practices.

Further unit of study information


1x 2hr lecture/wk; 1x 2hr tutorial/practical each week. Half-day field trips during weeks 3. 9, 10, 11 (no lecture or tutorial those weeks).


3x quizzes (30%), 1 x Viva Voce (30%), 1x 2hr exam (40%).


Reference Books: Pratley, J. (ed) (2003) Principles of Field Crop Production. 4th Edition, Oxford Univ. Press, Melbourne
Connor DJ, Loomis RS, Cassman KG (2011) Crop Ecology: Productivity and Management in Agricultural Systems, 2nd Ed. Cambridge Univ Press, Cambridge
Marschner, P. (ed) (2012) Mineral Nutrition of Higher Plants. 3rd Edition, Academic Press, London.

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules

Prerequisites and assumed knowledge

(BIOL2023 or BIOL2923 or PLNT2003 or AGEN 2001) and SOIL2003., (BIOL2023 or BIOL2923 or PLNT2003 or AGEN 2001) and SOIL2003., (BIOL2023 or BIOL2923 or PLNT2003 or AGEN 2001) and SOIL2003.

Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.