AGRIC 1510WT - Agricultural Systems I

Waite Campus - Semester 1 - 2023

The need to develop sustainable and profitable agricultural systems to meet the demands of a burgeoning global population at a time of major changes in the environment is an important challenge for agricultural science. This course provides a general introduction to Australian agriculture. It examines some of the physical, biological and economic characteristics of Australian agricultural systems and how technology is used to manage these systems. Topics include climatology and meteorology, genetic resources and the importance of genetic improvement, water use efficiency and the application of current and emerging technologies in agricultural production. Practical and tutorial classes will help develop skills in data handling and presentation, written communication, plant identification and animal handling.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code AGRIC 1510WT
    Course Agricultural Systems I
    Coordinating Unit School of Agriculture, Food and Wine
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s Waite Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 6 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Assessment Essay, Tutorial Assignments, Practical Reports, Quiz & Examination
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Glenn McDonald

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

    The course is timetabled for Thursdays in Semester 1. The course is based at the Waite Campus but there are a number of full-day sessions at Roseworthy. On those days at Waite, there will be a combination of lectures, tutorials and practical sessions. The classes at Roseworthy will present lectures in animal production as well as include practical activities and demonstrations in animal and plant production. Each day will have 6 contact hours.
  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
    1 understand the biophysical and socioeconomic factors underpinning the major agricultural industries in southern Australia and how they inter-relate with one another
    2 understand the essential features of sustainable agricultural systems and the importance of physical and biological resource base as the foundation of sustainable production systems.
    3 develop a systems approach to agricultural science, where knowledge from different disciplines is integrated to develop an improved understanding of the operation of production practices in agriculture.
    4 know and understand essential key concepts and terms used in professional practice
    5 find, collate and critically evaluate information from different sources as an individual or as part of a team; and; perform basic calculations related to specific topics in the course
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)

    Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth

    Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.

    1, 2, 4

    Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving

    Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.


    Attribute 3: Teamwork and communication skills

    Graduates convey ideas and information effectively to a range of audiences for a variety of purposes and contribute in a positive and collaborative manner to achieving common goals.


    Attribute 4: Professionalism and leadership readiness

    Graduates engage in professional behaviour and have the potential to be entrepreneurial and take leadership roles in their chosen occupations or careers and communities.

  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    The course requires access to shared facilities at the Roseworthy farm, in particular access to animals and stockyards on the days students are designated to be at Roseworthy.

    Glasshouse space to grow plants for practical classes

    Additional bus transport between North Terrace and Roseworthy for ~35 students is required for those days when students need to travel to Roseworthy.
    Recommended Resources
    There is no standard text book for the course, but recommended references are:
    (a) Malcolm, B, Sale, P., and Egan, A. (2009). Agriculture in Australia: an Introduction (2nd edition) (Oxford University Press).

    (b) Tow, P, Cooper, I, Partridge, I and Birch C (eds) (2011) Rainfed Farming Systems
    (Springer) – this is an e-book available from the library. A link to the book is provided in MyUni

    The booklet “Written Communication in the Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences” by M Cargill and M Bellotti is used as a guide to writing and a copy is also provided on MyUni.

    TURNITIN will be used as part of the assessment of the essay
    Online Learning
    The lectures and practicals are posted on MyUni. Other material that support student learning, but which is not a core component of the lectures and practicals, will also be made available. These include links to on-line glossaries, YouTube videos of farming practices in Australia and overseas and links to websites that provide additional information supporting lectures and practicals. There are students in the course that have little or no experience with agriculture and the purpose of these resources is to provide additional support for their learning.

    Articulate Storyline has been used to develop seedling identification keys and these have been supplemented with multiple choice tests to assist with revision.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    Lectures are used to provide basic information about key concepts and important characteristics of agricultural systems.

    Tutorials serve to reinforce and extend some of the ideas raised in the lectures and practicals. They are also designed to require students to find information and interpret it.

    Practical demonstrations are used to illustrate some of the production practices described in the lectures and to intoduce students to some of the terminology used in agriculture. The students work as a group and many of the demonstrations also help to build teamwork and to foster the relationships between students.  Aspects of these demonstrations are assessed in a practical exam.

    The formal practical classes are used to (a) introduce students to terms commonly used in agricultural science (‘the language of the discipline’), The practicals are interactive with periods of discussion interspersed during the practical exercises. The activities of the practical exercises are assessed in a practical exam at the end o the semester as well as a short report on two practicals.

    The essay is used to develop written communication skills and to encourage critical evaluation if information. Students have the choice to resubmit the essay after it is marked after responding to the comments on the essay from the marker. Students are also required to find primary sources of information and are encouraged to use the library data bases to find relevant information.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The work load is 6 contact hours per week, which will be based on 2-3 hours of lectures, a 1-hour tutorial and 2-3 hours of practical work or practical demonstrations. The amount of contact time will vary from week to week depending on the nature of the practicals. For example, in a number of weeks at Roseworthy there will not be any lectures but there will be demonstrations and practical exercises in the morning and afternoon.

    It is expected that students will spend an average of approximately 5 hours per week in addition to the formal contact time on assignments, reports and essays
    Learning Activities Summary
    Classes will be devoted to group and open discussion of what applied biology is and how it works. This will include introducing and developing scientific literacy skills, basic experimental design and presentation skills, consideration of key elements of scientific practice and utilisation of the students’ developing scientific literacy skills. Numerous sites on the Waite Campus will be used as the basis for the demonstration of applied biology in real world situations, selected from but not limited to The Plant Accelerator, The Hickinbotham Wine Science Laboratories, The Australian Wine Research Institute, Adelaide Glycomics, Australian Genome Research Facility, and the Waite Arboretum. Students will be introduced to basic experimental design through practicals.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary

    Assessment Task Task Type Weighting Hurdle Learning Outcome Due

    Tutorial exercises (reports):

    Finding information and preparing a figure

    Analysis of agricultural production in relation to climate

    Formative &

    15% No 5

    Week 2

    Week 4
    Practical exercises
    and reports:

    Analysis of production
    data in agriculture

    Analysis of changes in plant type with breeding
    Formative &
    15% No



    Week 3

    Week 6
    Essay: A 1500 word essay on a contemporary topic Summative 20% No 1,2,3,5
    Practical exam Summative 15% No 4 Week 12
    Final (Theory) exam Summative 35% No 1,2,3 Exam period
    Assessment Detail
    Tutorials (15%)
    Tutorial work is assessed by written reports and a quiz.
    (a) Tutorial reports. Two tutorial reports of will be submitted, one on the presentation of data and one on an analysis of beef production systems in northern and southern Australia. In both reports students are required to find data and information on the topic. The first report is to assess their ability to collate and present data in a figure and the second report requires students to integrate information on climate, agronomy and animal production to interpret and explain differences in the production systems in two regions.

    (b) Quiz. This short quiz of 15 minutes is based on commonly-used terms related to agricultural production that have been used in lectures and practicals or which are widely used in agricultural practice. The definitions of these terms is provided in a glossary for the course as well as in individual tutorials and practicals. The quiz consists of multiple choice questions. The aim of the quiz is to allow students to become familiar with the terms that are commonly encountered in agriculture and can be considered as professional literacy.

    Practical reports (15%)
    Students will submit short reports on two of the practicals, one based on an analysis of production trends in Australia and one other country and the other on data collected that examines changes in plant characteristics in a collection of wheat varieties that span >100 years of breeding. The first report requires them to find information related to production in another country and compare that with Australia and to present the information clearly. It reinforces the concepts that are covered in the first tutorial class and tutorial assignment. An aim is also to prompt students to assess production within a global context. The second report requires the students to collate information gathered in the class, present it clearly and interpret the information

    Practical exam (15%)
    A number of the practicals are based on practical skills that are introduced in the class. The practical exam assesses these skills. There are three components: (a) identification of seeds and seedling of common crop and pasture species; (b) calculations and short answer questions on topics covered in the practicals and (c) correct animal handling.

    Essay (20%)
    Students submit a 1500 word essay on a topical issue related to agricultural production, food or the environment. Students will generally be given a choice of topics, and the topics changes each year. Tutorials on essay writing and the use of references are held to support the students. The essay assesses their ability to write clearly and to present ideas in a logical and clear manner.

    Final (Theory) Exam (35%)
    The final theory exam will examine all components of the course. It will consist of multiple choice, short answer and long answer questions.
    Essays are handed in through TURNITIN, and practical and tutorial reports are submitted electronically through MyUni or emailed to tutors.

    Late submission of assessed work will be penalised.

    Depending on the nature of the assessment, the aim is provide feedback and marks on the assessment within 2 weeks after submission. Rubrics and mark sheets as well as additional comments on the work are used to provide feedback to students.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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