Scheda insegnamento

Anno Accademico 2023/2024

Conoscenze e abilità da conseguire

Students will learn concepts of crop ecophysiology, and quantitative ecological processes occurring at ecosystem level. Students will gain an understanding of the complex interactions between plants and their environment and of the use efficiency of resources. All these knowledge will allow the students to understand how to design sustainable horticultural crop systems.


a) Prerequisites

Students taking this class must possess strong bases in biology and botany, in addition to knowledge of arboriculture, agrometeorology, chemistry, biochemistry and soil chemistry, to properly understand the subjects addressed here, which relate to advanced fruit growing aspects. Students must also possess knowledge in organic chemistry and physics to understand the water relations of the tree and its interactions with the environment. These prerequisites are obtained during the first level degree.

Combining basic knowledge with the capacity of identifying and managing highly efficient and sustainable fruit production methods is paramount in the making of a modern, sustainable fruit growing specialist.

b) Teaching units


The module is made up of 6 main teaching units:

  1. Tree water relations:
    water potentials;
    training system effect on water potentials;
    environment conditions and water potentials.
  2. Tree-Light relations :
    physical properties of light; methods to measure light in the orchard;
    biochemical aspects;
    biological aspects;
    the effect of growing practices on tree-light interactions;
    orchard design.
  3. Photosynthetic efficiency :
    photosynthesis - why and how to measure it;
    photosynthetic parameters;
    environment effects on tree photosynthesis;
    light excess and consequences on primary photoproductivity;
    photo-oxidation, water-water cycle and photorespiration.
  4. Growth
    parameters to express growth and their relevance to the study of growth;
    sampling methods and data processing; fruit growth models;
    cell demography and fruit growth;
    effect of time of thinning on the growth of fruit;
    thinning strategies and environment effects on fruit growth.
  5. The flows of fresh and dry matter that allow fruit growth
    measurement methods;
    importance of phenological stages;
    the xylem contribution to fruit growth;
    the phloem contribution to fruit growth;
    the role of transpiration in fruit growth;
    a typical daily growth in apple, peach and kiwifruit.
  6. Precision fruit growing :
    analytical approaches;
    the peach case study.


The course focuses on the functioning of crop systems under different managements and environmental conditions. Findings from recent research will be given as examples to illustrate how ecosystems respond to agricultural practices.

The course aims at scaling up from single plant to ecosystem physiology, offering the student knowledge on the use of resources for a sustainable production.

Main topics:

  1. Ecosystem concept and terminology :

Boundaries of the ecosystem

Turnover rate, residence time

Resistance, resilience, feedback mechanisms

  1. Energy and radiation:

Short and long wave radiation

The radiation path from the atmosphere to the soil

Energy and radiation balances

External energy input in the production system

  1. Carbon cycle:

Standing biomass, Net primary productivity, below and above ground productivity

Productivity indexes, C use efficiency

C allocation, Ecosystem respiration

Net ecosystem productivity and C balances; C footprint

Measurement techniques

  1. Use of Stable isotopes in crop ecosystem studies:

  1. Water fluxes:

Water needs

Water footprint, green, blue and grey water

Water use efficiency

Water balance, ET, Kc, models

Soil available water, Water deficit

  1. Nutrient cycle

Nutrient availability

Nutrient budgets

Uptake fluxes

Nutrient partitioning

Nutrient inputs

Nutrient losses


Lecture notes, handouts and articles provided by the instructor through internet services managed by UNIBO.

Selected chapters from the book Principles of Modern Fruit Science. Sansavini et al (ed). 2019. ISHS

Metodi didattici

Classroom lectures make up for 2/3 of the time allotted to this course. The remainder time is made up of classroom experiences (practicum), exercises and field or greenhouse activity.

Modalità di verifica e valutazione dell'apprendimento

The course is comprised of two modules, each of 3 credits, the first one taught by dr. Morandi and the second taught by professor Tagliavini. Therefore, the evaluation of the integrated course jointly considers the knowledge level acquired by the student, in relation to all the materials covered in both modules. The goal of the evaluation is to assess the overall capacity of the student to recognize and address problems in the area of ecophysiology and ecosystems and devise solutions to these problems.

Strumenti a supporto della didattica

Classroom lectures are provided with the aid of visuals. Practical examples are offered in the classroom, focused on the determination of physiological parameter by use of portable instrumentation. Exercises will be carried out in the computer room. On occasion, seminars may be offered by visiting professors from other institutions, to integrate the instructor's lectures.

Orario di ricevimento

Consulta il sito web di Massimo Tagliavini

Consulta il sito web di Brunella Morandi