PSC 5200: Course Syllabus

Course Syllabus

Course Syllabus Document: Download PDF

Course Description:

Site specific management (Precision Agriculture) is designed to optimize off farm inputs and enhance environmental economic sustainability. This course will focus on the technology available for implementation of a comprehensive site-specific management program for agriculture and horticulture. Topics will include computers, GPS, yield monitors, variable rate control systems, mechanized soil sampling, and post harvest processing controls. Applications of precision agriculture in planning, tillage, planting, chemical applications, harvesting, and post harvest processing of the crop will be emphasized. Horticultural applications will utilize analogous operations (turf clipping, sod harvesting, etc.).

Course Objectives:

  • Develop an understanding of the concept of site specific management.
  • Critically evaluate the technology used in site-specific management.
  • Evaluate the operating principles of GPS, yield monitors, variable rate control systems, and field computers.
  • Recognize types and sources of data and information necessary for a comprehensive precision agriculture program.
  • Understand basic scientific principles of sensors used in precision site specific systems.
  • Critically evaluate GPS and DGPS systems for site specific, sustainable management systems.


  • Lecture (3 credit hours): Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (7:30-8:20 a.m.)
  • Laboratory (0 credit hours): Tuesday and Thursday (7:30-8:20 a.m.)


V. Philip Rasmussen, Ph.D., Professor and Geospatial Extension Specialist; Department of Plants, Soils and Climate, Utah State University

Course Text:

The text used for this course is The Precision Farming Guide for Agriculturalists. Dan Ess, Mark Morgan, and Ralph Reynolds (eds.) John Deere Publishing (paperback).

Many handouts and websites will also be utilized. In addition, fact sheets, lecture notes, homework assignments, and other materials will be available from the instructor.

Class Meetings:

Contact hours for this course consist of three hours of lecture and two hours of laboratory each week. The lecture portion will be used to introduce topics, hold discussions, present material, and take exams. The laboratory portion will be used for activities to support the lecture material.

Academic Integrity:

All students are expected to follow USU policies on academic integrity. Cheating and plagiarism are to be dealt with severely.

Attendance and Grading:

Attendance is expected at all class meetings. Students are expected to be responsible for any lecture material that is missed from student colleagues. There will be three exams during the semester. These exams will be given as shown in the attached course schedule. In addition, a comprehensive final exam will be administered. Make up of missed exams will be allowed only in the case of a documented excused absence. Arrangements must be made immediately with the instructor.

Laboratory exercises and homework will be assigned to cover pertinent topics of discussion and practice. These will be graded dependent upon the nature of the exercise. Written materials will be graded based on technical content neatness and thoroughness. You will not receive credit for sloppy or incomplete work. Homework assignments and their due dates will be posted on the course website for you to copy or download. Lab assignments are due as indicated upon assignment. All assignments must be presented to the instructor for evaluation by the due date. Labs completed late will be assessed a 5% per week penalty. Homework assignments are due on the day specified. Assignments turned in late will be assessed a 5% per day penalty. Under no circumstances will assignments be accepted more than 1 week late!

Course Grade:

The final course grade will be determined as follows:

  • Homework: 15%
  • Laboratory Exercises: 30%
  • Hour Exams: 40%
  • Final Exam: 15%

Letter grades will be assigned based on the final numerical average and will be based on the following scale:  A+ (98-100%), A (92-97%), A- (90-91%), B+ (88-89%), B (82-87%), B- (80-81%), C+ (78-79%), C (72-77%), C- (70-71%), D+ (68-69%), D (62-67%), D- (60-61%), and F (59% and below).