72666 - Principles of Horticulture

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

No poverty Zero hunger Sustainable cities Responsible consumption and production

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student will know the main features and problems of vegetable crops and floriculture sectors, with reference to the Italian and international markets. The student will have a good preparation on the aspects dealing with cultural practices, economy and market in horticulture, and will be skilled to manage greenhouses and the most current horticultural farming systems.

Course contents

a) Prerequisites

The students who access this course have a good knowledge of the fundamentals of biology and botany and are skilled in agronomy, agro-meteorology, bio- and soil-chemistry that allow him to understand the issues of both open field and greenhouse crops. The students also have the basics of inorganic chemistry and physics that allow them to learn about aspects of water and mineral nutrition of horticultural crops. These prerequisites are provided during the first two years of the bachelor program

Under the big theme of the innovations in crop production, to acquire the ability to check, select and manage the most efficient and sustainable production systems in horticulture is a priority in the formation of a modern agronomist, and for those who want to continue their studies enrolling in master courses.

b) Contents / teaching units

The course covers the bases and principles of production in horticulture and deals with the general criteria that are useful for the analysis and selection of crops and technologies. It includes topics of interest for the design, organization and management of sustainable productive systems in horticulture, with particular attention to the rational use of resources. The course consists of six teaching units supported in part by a textbook (see section readings/bibliography) and partly by the teaching material (e.g. slides) distributed by the teacher.

The teaching units (UD #) are:

UD # 1) Reference scenarios

1.1) Vegetable crops

1.1.1) Statistics on vegetable crops (economic importance)

1.1.2) Vegetable farming systems (vegetable crop production for: professionals and amateurs, for processing and the fresh market, integrated and biological horticulture, urban horticulture, social and therapeutic horticulture)

1.1.3) Quality of Vegetable crops (quality characteristics, evolution of the concept of quality, regulatory and legislative aspects)

1.2) Floriculture and Ornamentals

1.2.1) Statistics on floriculture and ornamentals (economic importance)

1.2.2) Characteristics of the sector, trends and innovative species

1.2.3) The market of flowers and ornamentals

1.3) Sustainability and ethics of horticultural production

UD # 2) Plant propagation

2.1) Vegetative propagation

2.1.1) Propagation by cuttings and layering

2.1.2) Propagation by grafting (herbaceous grafting)

2.2) Propagation by seed

2.2.1) Germination

2.2.2) Seed dormancy and pre-germination treatments

2.3) Micropropagation

2.3.1) Applications and phases of in vitro cultures

2.3.1) Main micropropagation techniques

2.4) The nursery

2.4.1) Business organization

2.4.2) Horticultural nursery

2.4.3) Containers and substrates

2.4.4) Control of the size of the plants

UD # 3) Vegetable cropping systems in open field

3.1) Farming systems

3.1.1) Conventional farming systems

3.1.2) Integrated and biological (organic) farming systems

3.2) Agronomic issues

3.2.1) The environment (general considerations on climate and soil) and concept of "vocational area"

3.2.2) Species and varieties, and rotations

3.2.3) Soil preparation and crop planting (direct sowing and transplanting)

UD # 4) Irrigation and fertilization of on-soil crops

4.1) Irrigation

4.1.1) Irrigation systems

4.1.2) Management of irrigation in open fields and in greenhouses

4.2) Fertilization

4.2.1) Deficiency and excess of nutrients

4.2.2) Fertilization plan

4.2.3) Regulatory and production disciplinary constraints

4.2.4) Optimization of fertilization and fertilization techniques

UD # 5) Protected crops

5.1) Types of protection

5.1.1) Defense systems (windbreak, mulch)

5.1.2) Semi-forcing and forcing systems (tunnels, greenhouses)

5.2) The climate and its conditioning in the greenhouse

5.2.1) Solar radiation and artificial lighting

5.2.2) Temperature and heating and cooling systems

5.2.3) Relative humidity and carbon dioxide

5.3) Greenhouse cover materials (outline)

UD # 6) Soilless culture

6.1) General aspects

6.2) The main soilless systems

6.2.1) Open- and closed-loop systems

6.2.1) Cultivation in liquid medium

6.2.2) Cultivation on substrate

6.3) The nutrient solution

6.3.1) Composition of the nutrient solution

6.3.2) Preparation of the nutrient solution

6.3.3) Management of the nutrient solution


The reference book is:

Pardossi A., Prosdocimi Gianquinto G., Santamaria P., Incrocci L. (editors), Orticoltura: Principi e pratica, Edagricole, Bologna, 2018. The study concerns the Parte Generale, chapters 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10.

The book will be integrated with slides and other material provided by the lecturer.

During the course, will be made available online a copy of the presentations made in the class.

For further information we recommend the following texts:

- Malorgio F., Incrocci L., Dimauro B., Pardossi A., La tecnica della coltivazione fuorisuolo, MIPAAF/UNIPI, Pisa, 2008

- Pimpini F. (coord.), Principi tecnico-agronomici della fertirrigazione e del fuorisuolo, Veneto Agricoltura, Padova, 2002 (***).

- Pisante M., Agricoltura Blu: La via italiana dell'agricoltura conservativa, Edagricole, 2007.

- Tesi R., Orticoltura mediterranea sostenibile, Pàtron, Bologna, 2010.

- Tesi R., Colture protette. Ortoflorovivaismo in ambiente mediterraneo, Il Sole 24 Ore Edagricole, Bologna, 2008.

- Tesi R., Colture fuori suolo in orticoltura e floricoltura, Il Sole 24 Ore Edagricole, Bologna, 2002.

- Tesi R., Colture protette – Ortoflorovivaismo, Il Sole 24 Ore Edagricole, Bologna, 2001.

- Zaccheo P., Cattivello C., I substrati di coltivazione: Aspetti teorici ed applicativi di un fattore chiave delle produzioni in contenitore, Edagricole, Bologna, 2009.

- Baudoin W., Nono-Womdim R., Lutaladio N., Hodder A., Castilla N., Leonardi C., De Pascale S., Qaryouti M., Good Agricultural Practices for greenhouse vegetable crops: Principles for Mediterranean climate areas, FAO Plant Production and Protection Paper n° 217, FAO-UN, Roma, 2013 (***).

(***) e-books made available in PDF format by the teacher

Teaching methods

The course consists of lectures (24 hours) and exercises (16 hours), which may include:

- Films and documentaries to explore the topics of class,

- Seminars held by visiting professors or experts on issues of particular interest,

- Technical tours to farms, nurseries and / or marketing centers.

Assessment methods

The course is part of the Integrated Course "72665 - Horticulture and Crop Science" together with the teaching " 2096 - Crop Science."

Therefore, the evaluation of the course takes into account jointly the level of knowledge and skills acquired by the student in relation to the contents of all the teachings.

For this course, the skills will be assessed through a final written examination, consisting of a quiz test, which involves 60 closed questions (51 of 1st level and 9 of 2nd level) chosen within the 2 teaching units and obtained from the chapters 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9 and 10 of the reference text and from the lecture notes. For each question there are 4-5 or sometimes 3 answer options. In any case, the right option is only one. For each correct answer a score of 1 is assigned, for each wrong answer or in the absence of an answer there is no penalty. The overall score is obtained as follows:

1) if student answers a number of questions less than or equal to 32, the mark is equal to the algebraic sum of the individual scores (e.g. 20 questions answered with 20 correct answers, mark = 20; 20 questions answered with 18 correct answers, mark = 18; 32 questions answered with 20 correct answers, mark = 20; 32 questions answered with 18 correct answers, mark = 18; 32 questions answered with 30 correct answers, mark = 30; 32 questions answered with 32 correct answers, mark = 30 cum laude);
2) if student answers more than 32 questions, the mark is calculated proportionally to the number of the given answers (e.g. 50 questions answered with 20 correct answers, mark = 20/50 * 32 = 12.8 (13 , thirteen); 50 questions answered with 29 correct answers, mark = 29/50 * 32 = 18.6 (19, nineteen); 50 questions answered with 40 correct answers, mark = 40/50 * 32 = 25.6 (26, twenty six); 50 questions answered with 47 correct answers, mark = 47/50 * 32 = 30.1 (30, thirty); 50 questions answered with 50 correct answers, mark = 50/50 * 32 = 32 (30 cum laude).

With a final score equal to or greater than 31, cum laude is attributed.

The maximum duration for the written test is 60 minutes.

Teaching tools

PC, projector, PowerPoint presentations, video / DVD.

Office hours

See the website of Giorgio Prosdocimi Gianquinto