93662 - Precision Field Cropping

Course Unit Page


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

Zero hunger Quality education Responsible consumption and production Climate Action

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At course completion, the student possesses knowledge on: geo-statistic techniques for the implementation of prescription maps for the main production inputs (fertilizers, water, etc.) in order to answer questions where, when, how much and how; techniques and tools for precision cultivation of arable crops; models for the management of nutrition, irrigation, and product quality. In particular, the student possesses the skills to: organize cultivation strategies for homogeneous areas of arable land, based on satellite images, proximal sensors, and IT support systems; evaluate vegetation state during cultivation and final production performance in herbaceous species; identify the factors limiting the quantity-quality production of herbaceous species and the possible site-specific mitigation measures, through an environmental sustainability perspective.

Course contents

a) Prerequisites

Students entering this course need to have a general knowledge of field crop systems including cereals and other arable crops (forage, industrial and vegetable species). They also need to have good bases in Agronomy and the related disciplines addressing crop environment (soil science and agro-meteorology) and the main crop practices (soil management, fertilization, crop propagation, water management, and weed control). A basic knowledge of physics, chemistry and information technology is also needed to get acquainted with the tools introduced during the lectures and exercises, and properly use them.

b) Teaching units

The course is composed of three teaching units:

Bases and tools for precision field cropping (18 hours)

Introduction to precision field cropping in the framework of conventional methods of crop management. Methods and platforms for proximal and remote sensing of soil and crop characteristics. Continuous mapping of soil, crop growth and yield traits, and assessment of spatial and temporal variability. Decision support systems and simulation models in precision field cropping.

Precise management applications in field crops (18 hours)

  • General problems, opportunities and perspectives in the diffusion of precision field cropping
  • Variable soil tillage and seed spacing
  • Precision fertilizing
  • Precision irrigation
  • Precision weeding

    Computer lectures and exercises (24 hours)

  • Importing and creating raster data and vector layers; setting boundaries to raster layers
  • Statistical/geostatistical data management
  • Selection of datasets from satellite images, and calculation of principal vegetation indices
  • Use of soil, crop and satellite data for thematic multi-criteria maps for precision crop management
  • Creating prescription maps for precision crop management


Course material:

  • PDF presentations, URLs for software downloads and other material provided by the teacher. The presentations will be accessible from the IOL platform to students registered in the distribution list.

Precision in Crop Farming – Site Specific Concepts and Sensing Methods: Applications and Results. H.J. Heege (editor), Springer Science & Business Media, Dordrecht, 2013.

Teaching methods

Class lectures, computer lab lectures and exercises, study visits to farms where precision cropping is implemented. Seminars held by experts operating in the specific domain.

Assessment methods

This course, together with Precision Orchard Management is part of the Integrated Course “Precision Agriculture”. The final grade will be the average of those assessed in the two courses.

In this course the assessment is based on an oral exam (⁓30 minutes) where three/four questions are posed.

Teaching tools

Class lectures and seminars also through remote platforms (e.g., Teams), depending on the status of the Covid-19 epidemics. Lectures and exercises with specific softwares in the computer lab or through remote platforms, using students’ own computers.

Office hours

See the website of Lorenzo Barbanti