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Plant & Soil Sciences Courses

Plant & Soil Sciences | Courses | Faculty


(All courses carry 3 credits unless otherwise noted.)

(Also see Horticulture, Fruit and Vegetable Crops, and Turfgrass Management courses listed under Stockbridge School heading.)

100 Basic Plant Science (BS) (1st sem)

Focuses on world crop production and environmental constraints. Stresses general aspects of plant growth, physiological responses of plants to the environment, and manipulation of the plants and their environment to further agricultural production. High school chemistry recommended.

105 Soils (BSL) (2nd sem) 4 cr

With lab. Interrelationship of soils and higher plants. Physical, chemical, and biological properties of soils. Practical approach to current problems through basic soil principles. Prerequisite: some knowledge of chemistry.

106 Soils (BS) (2nd sem)

Same as PLSOIL 105, but lecture only.

115 Plants, Soils, and the Environment (I) (2nd sem)

Introduction to understanding the biological and physical relationships among plants, soils, and the environment. Exploring how various human activities affect the environment with specific attention to plant and soil resources. Topics include ecosystem sustainability, ecosystem structure and function, agriculture and the impacts of biotechnology, food access, soil and its preservation, wetlands, water pollution and treatment technologies, and resource conservation.

120 Organic Farming and Gardening (BSL) (2nd sem)

With lab. Introduction to principles of soil fertility and crop management by organic procedures which are contrasted with and evaluated against conventional chemical methods of farming. A science course.

200 Plant Propagation (1st sem)

With lab. The basic principles and techniques for propagating plants by both sexual and asexual means, including seeds, cuttings, bulbs, and tissue culture. The hormonal and physiological factors affecting rooting, seed dormancy, grafting, budding, and layering. Prerequisite: BIOL 103 or equivalent.

230 Introductory Turfgrass Management (1st sem)

With lab. Basic principles of selecting and managing turfgrass for home lawns, parks, golf courses, and other turf areas. Topics include: climatic adaption, grass identification, establishment practices, pest control, fertility, environmental stresses, etc. Prerequisites: (or concurrent) introductory botany, soils, or consent of instructor.

235 Pruning Fruit Crops (2nd sem) 2 cr

With lab. Theory and practice of pruning deciduous fruit plants/trees. Emphasis on practical, hands-on experience.

250 Bedding Plant Production
(2nd sem) 2 cr

With lab. Survey of plants started under controlled environmental conditions and sold to home gardeners and landscapers for use outdoors. Emphasis on culture, crop scheduling, identification, and use in the landscape. Eight-week course. Prerequisite: PLSOIL 315 or consent of instructor.

255 Herbaceous Perennial Plants (2nd sem)

With lab. Study and identification of herbaceous perennials; their uses as ornamental plants for home, park, and business.

260 Growing Plants Indoors (2nd sem)

Introduction to the indoor culture of tropical plants and other species. Artificial lighting, acclimatization, moisture requirements, soils and nutrition, and diagnosing plant problems. Information applicable to professional indoor plant maintenance, retail marketing, and growing plants in the home.

275 Turfgrass Physiology and Ecology (2nd sem)

First half of the semester: an introduction to basic concepts in agricultural chemistry as related to the growth and culture of turf grasses. Second half: the overall growth and development of grasses including such areas as soil fertility and mineral nutrition. Prerequisite: PLSOIL 230.

280 Herbs, Spices, and Medicinal Plants (2nd sem) (BS)

With lab. Introduction to the growth, culture, and science related to the production and use of herbs, spices, and medicinal plants. Emphasis on plants used in the home; discussion of bioactivity of plant extracts. Practice in seeding, growing, oil extraction, and utilization of these plants.

297A Sustainable Agriculture (1st sem)

With lab. For agriculture and non-agriculture students who want to explore ethical, practical, scientific, and personal aspects of the quest for long-term agricultural sustainability. Students evaluate specific farming, food system, and lifestyle practices from economic, social, and environmental perspectives. Includes field trips, lectures, Web-based readings, discussion of current topics, and individual research. OIT UNIX account required for access to WebCT. Includes field trips. Some knowledge of basic agricultural principles helpful.

297M Pruning and Maintenance of Woody Plants I (2nd sem) 2 cr

With lab. Hands-on experience in planting, pruning, and landscape maintenance of woody ornamentals. Offered during the last eight weeks of the semester.

300 Deciduous Orchard Science (1st sem odd yrs)

With lab. Principles and practices involved in the establishment and maintenance of deciduous orchards. Basic botany course suggested.

305 Small Fruit Production (1st sem
even yrs)

With lab. Principles and practices governing the establishment and management of small fruit plantings. Basic botany course suggested.

310 Principles of Weed Management (1st sem)

With lab. History of weed control; importance of weeds and their relationship to people and the environment; ecology of weeds, competition, persistence and survival mechanisms; reproduction, seed germination, and dormancy; methods of weed controlócultural, biological, chemical, and integrated pest management strategies; classification of herbicides and their selectivity; soil factors affecting herbicide performance, persistence and degradation; application equipment and calibration of sprayers; weed management systems for various crops and non-crop areas.

315 Greenhouse Management (1st sem) 4 cr

With lab. Introduction to the greenhouse environment and the technology used in production of greenhouse crops. Greenhouse experiments in crop production; exercises on greenhouse structures, heating and cooling, growing media, crop nutrition, photoperiod control and lighting, and crop scheduling; field trip to local greenhouses. Prerequisite: BIOL 103 or equivalent.

321 Greenhouse Crop Production I
(1st sem)

With lab. Greenhouse culture of seasonal crops, stressing modern concepts of production and management. Prerequisites: PLSOIL 315 and BIOL 103 or equivalent.

325 Vegetable Production (2nd sem) 4 cr

With lab. Principles of sustainable production of vegetable crops; emphasis on cultural practices used in home gardens and in commercial operations. Topics include specific practices used for the major vegetable crops grown in New England, water and soil fertility management, season extenders, and crop rotation. Prerequisite: introductory botany or plant science course.

335 Greenhouse Crop Production II (2nd sem)

With lab. Greenhouse culture of spring greenhouse crops. Postharvest handling of cut flowers and potted plants. Prerequisites: PLSOIL 315 and 321.

340 Advanced Turfgrass Management
(2nd sem)

Management of environmental stress in turfgrass. Special practices in managing high-quality turfgrass areas such as golf courses, athletic fields, and ornamental areas. Prerequisites: PLSOIL 230 and 275.

350 Crop Science (2nd sem)

With lab. Examination of sustainable farming systems for forage and field crop production. Cultural requirements and physiological responses of crops. Illustrations of concepts, discussions of topics, and examination of distinguishing morphological characteristics of selected crop species during laboratory sessions. Prerequisite: BIOL 103 or PLSOIL 102, or consent of instructor.

360 Nursery Management (2nd sem) 4 cr

With lab. Cultural practices of field and container production; how these practices and environmental factors influence nursery crop growth and development. Topics include: site selection, planting and spacing, mineral nutrition, harvesting, irrigation practices, pest management, and overwintering. Basic economic management of nursery crops production and marketing reviewed. Prerequisites: PLSOIL 105, 200; ENVDES 335 highly recommended.

365 Hydroponics (2nd sem) 4 cr

With lab. Instruction in and practice of soilless culture of plants by hydroponics. Topics include plant nutrition, nutrient solutions, media, systems and techniques of hydroponics, and marketing. Prerequisite: PLSOIL 105 or 120.

370 Tropical Agriculture (1st sem)

Tropical regions of the world, their environment and classification; influence of climate, population, and socioeconomic conditions on agriculture; major crops and cropping systems of sub-humid tropics; introduction to dry land agriculture; importance of rainfall and irrigation on productivity; green revolution; desertification; present and future research needs of region and state of agricultural technology.

375 Soil and Water Conservation (1st sem even yrs)

With lab. Soil management and control of water and wind erosion. Environmental aspects of soil and water conservation. Discussion of cropping and tilling systems and their effect on soil loss. Principles of soil drainage and irrigation for agricultural and engineering practices. Prerequisite: PLSOIL 105 or equivalent.

380 Technical Writing (both sem)

Satisfies Junior Year Writing requirement for PLSOIL majors, through a series of writing exercises based on the types of written materials commonly used in plant and soil sciences. Exercises include developing and writing professional correspondence, resumes, reports, and bibliographies. Students work individually and in groups to master sentence and paragraph structure. Oral presentation required. Prerequisite: ENGLWP 112 or equivalent.

397C Community Food Systems (2nd sem)

With lab. Understanding the movement of food from the grower to the consumer. Emphasis on how consumers get access to food from emergency and non-emergency sources. Direct marketing, Community-Supported Agriculture, farmers' markets, and small-scale farming discussed. Outside speakers from area community food banks, CSA's, non-profit organizations, faith communities, soup kitchens, and farmers' markets lead to discussions on various topics related to food access. A Service Learning course.

397P Introduction to Plant Physiology
(both sem)

Basic aspects of water relations and mineral nutrition in plants, plant biochemistry including photosynthesis, respiration and synthesis of important compounds, topics in plant growth and development such as growth regulators, photomorphogenesis and photoperiodism, and environmental physiology. Prerequisites: Introductory botany or biology and introductory chemistry.

397S Controversial Issues in Agriculture (1st sem) 2 cr

Introduces students to controversial agricultural issues, exploring diverse perspectives, and developing an individual and community-based understanding of current issues affecting American agriculture. Issues may include sustainability, alternative economics, organic agriculture, spirituality, genetic engineering, food safety, green revolution, urban farming, and others suggested by students. Includes weekly readings, exploratory dialogue, and reflective writings. Intended for PLSOIL students, but open to any interested junior, senior or graduate student. Some knowledge of agriculture helpful but not required.

496 Independent Study (both sem)

Research in plant and soil sciences or instruction in introductory PLSOIL course laboratories. Prerequisite: contract with instructor and PLSOIL Undergraduate Affairs Office, 206 French Hall.

515 Microbiology of Soil (2nd sem)

Microbial processes in the soil and sediment environment. The ecology of the various microbial communities; the decomposition of organic matter, carbon transformation, nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus and other mineral transformations; chemistry of these reactions and their biogeochemical implications; biological equilibrium, the rhizosphere, and microbial associations. Prerequisites: basic biology and organic chemistry or consent of instructor.

520 Physiology of Crop Yield (1st sem)

Physiology of crop plants, carbon fixation, partitioning, growth and development, competition in crops, environmental factors and yield relationships of crops. Prerequisite: PLSOIL 325 or 350 or consent of instructor.

530 Plant Nutrition (1st sem) 4 cr

With lab. The acquisition, translocation, distribution, and function of the essential inorganic elements in plants. Genetic control of plant nutrition and ecological adaptation to nutritional variables. Diagnosis of nutritional disorders. Prerequisites: introductory botany, chemistry, and soil science.

540 Plant Breeding (1st sem)

Introduction to the principles of plant breeding. Basic breeding methods and the new techniques of genetic engineering, reproductive systems of crop plants, inbreeding depression and hybrid vigor, interspecific hybridization, use of genetic markers for crop improvement, breeding for disease resistance, conservation of germplasm, and crop evolution. Some attention to hybridization of plants, analysis of offspring from hybrids, selection for disease resistance, and applications of gel electrophoresis. Prerequisite: BIOL 283 or similar course in introductory genetics.

545 Postharvest Physiology (2nd sem) 4 cr

The basic biochemical and physiological processes occurring in fruits, vegetables, and flowers after harvest; postharvest treatments to modify these processes. Reading of periodicals required. Prerequisite: CHEM 111 or consent of instructor.

550 Plant Growth Regulators in Agriculture (2nd sem)

The influence of naturally occurring plant hormones on regulating physiology, growth, and development in plants. Also, the uses and potential uses of synthetic plant growth regulators, cultural techniques, and horticultural practices to improve the production of food, fiber, and ornamental plants. Introductory botany and chemistry suggested.

555 Environmental Stress and Plant Growth (2nd sem alt yrs)

Identification of environmental stresses affecting crop plant growth and development. Emphasis on terminology and techniques employed in study of stress physiology. Water, temperature, and salt stresses emphasized; consideration of atmospheric pollution and radiation stress. Discussion of the physiological effects of environmental stresses on plants and mechanisms of avoidance or tolerance. Prerequisite: PLSOIL 397P or consent of instructor.

560 Advanced Weed Science (2nd sem
odd yrs)

With lab. Ecological concepts in weed management; historical and ecological perspectives. Weed-crop competition and allelopathy; reproductive strategy; seed dormancy, seed production, allocation of resources in perennial weeds. The physiology and biochemistry of herbicides in plants and their relationships with the soil environment. Prerequisite: PLSOIL 310 or consent of instructor.

565 Soil Formation, Classification, and Land Use (2nd sem) 4 cr

With lab, field trips. Effect of environmental factors on soil formation and land use. Relationship between soil morphology, classification, and use interpretations. Application of soils information to on-site sewage disposal, wetland identification, and other environmentally significant problem areas. Some full-day field trips. Prerequisite: introductory course in chemistry, geology, soil or environmental science; or consent of instructor.

570 Soil Physics (1st sem alt yrs)

Physical properties of soils and how they relate to water and solute movement in hydrologic systems, energy exchange, soil-water relations, environmental problems, and soil-water management. Prerequisites: basic courses in soils, geology, or environmental science, with chemistry and physics also required; or consent of instructor.

575 Environmental Soil Chemistry
(1st sem) 4 cr

With lab. Fundamental chemical processes in soils such as precipitation/dissolution, ion exchange, redox reactions, partitioning and adsorption, and ion speciation as well as the nature of soil minerals and organic matter. Chemical processes affecting fate, transport, availability and remediation of heavy metals and organic contaminants in soils and other related terrestrial environments also addressed. Computer models used to examine some current environmental, agricultural, and engineering problems. Problem solving requiring algebraic and numerical manipulations. Prerequisites: CHEM 112, PLSOIL 105 or consent of instructor.

580 Soil Fertility (1st sem)

Mineral elements in the growth of plants; plant response to fertilizers and other soil amendments; soil reaction; mineral deficiencies and toxicities; environmental impact of soil fertility management practices. Prerequisites: introductory botany, soils, and chemistry.

597 Special Topics

Organic Contaminants in Soils, Waters, and Sediments
(1st sem even yrs)

Transport and fate of manmade compounds in natural and managed environments: abiotic and biotic effects including partitioning, interfaces, concentration, biodegration and biotransformation. Examination of specific examples of compounds and classes of contaminants in affected environments, such as pesticides and petroleum products in soil and ground water. Prerequisite: organic chemistry; knowledge of biochemistry helpful.

Soils Field Trip (2nd sem odd yrs)
1-3 cr

Regional field trip in soil formation and classification to Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia or Pennsylvania in alternate cycles with trips to New England states. Prerequisite: PLSOIL 565.

Inorganic Contaminants in Soil, Water, and Sediment (2nd sem)

The physical, chemical, and biological factors affecting the fate and transport of heavy metals and other inorganic contaminants in soil, water, and sediment. An introduction to heavy metals chemistry, sources, pedogenic and geochemical behavior, and methods used for their analysis. Remediation technologies, options, and goals also discussed. Includes class presentation. Prerequisites: CHEM 111 and 112, college algebra, knowledge of transition metal chemistry, or consent of instructor.

Wetland Delineation: Federal Procedure (1st sem odd yrs)

All aspects of the federal procedure for wetland identification and delineation, including wetland classification, wetland plant identification, hydric soils recognition and various delineation procedures. Field exercises; individual delineation project; literature studies required for final report.

Constructed Wetlands for Wastewater Treatment (1st sem)

Aquatic plant selection, sizing, and design techniques. Pollution parameters of primary concern: biological oxygen demands, suspended solids, nutrients, heavy metals, pathogens, organics. Treatment applications include primary and secondary effluents and sludges; storm water and agricultural runoff; solid and hazardous waste leachates, liquids, industrial wastes. Field trips. Prerequisites: college algebra, introductory chemistry, introductory physics, botany, or consent of instructor.

Agricultural Systems Thinking
(2nd sem)

An opportunity to learn and practice holistic systems thinking, a way of understanding complex real-world situations, such as those often encountered in food and agricultural arenas. Introduces soft systems tools for understanding complex situations and for personal and professional decision making. Prerequisites: some coursework in agriculture, biology or environmental studies. Junior, Senior, Graduate standing required. OIT UNIX account required for access to WebCT.

Plant & Soil Sciences | Courses | Faculty