January 21 – April 29, 2020

Instructor: Allen V. Barker

Phone: (413) 545‑4733 Email: barker@umass.edu

Description of course: The course is an introduction to scientific principles and management of soil fertility. Students in this course will study material provided in 10 topics that correspond to instruction in the Spring 2019 Semester for a total of 13 weeks. The material for all topics are in the online textbook that is available in the Welcome Section and in the Weekly/Unit Content in the Blackboard system. A total of 10 tests with equal value will be taken as students progress through the course. The quizzes are based on readings that are in the online textbook. Students can take the quizzes at their own paces and in any order. All tests must be completed by the end of the Spring 2020 Semester when reporting of grades is due (May 12, 2020). The Students also will participate in a Discussion Forum that will include topics of general issues in soil fertility and on topics that are not necessarily in the textbook. Students are expected to participate in the discussions for an average of twice per week by making entries into the Discussion Forum. Discussion topics will be available in the course structure online. Students do not need to participate in all topics but must participate 26 times. The first two topics in the Discussion Forum were provided by Continuing Education and were left in the list and are valid for participation as are all topics in the list

The content and workload of the course is identical to the resident course in soil fertility at the University of Massachusetts.

Topics (from the online textbook):

  1. Introduction and factors of soil fertility
  2. Crop growth and factors affecting it
  3. Acid soil infertility
  4. Liming
  5. Modeling of crop growth
  6. Soil testing and plant analysis
  7. Cropping systems and soil fertility
  8. Tillage
  9. Livestock and soil fertility

Grading: Quizzes 90% & Discussion 10%

Textbooks: A textbook for the course is available online. The textbook includes all of the topics of the course and is written so that it is the text of lectures that would be given in a classroom presentation. The tests for the course are prepared from the textbook that is online. The textbook can be printed for a permanent copy.

Recommended: This book cited below is much more extensive in coverage of soil fertility than the online version that accompanies the course and may be useful to support the understanding of topics of soil fertility. This textbook has a lot more illustrations and written text than the online book. All tests are based on the information in the online book but the following textbook may be useful for obtaining additional information on the topics of the course or for a reference in the future. This book is not required to complete the course.

Havlin, J.L., J.D. Beaton, S.L. Tisdale, and W.L. Nelson. 2013. Soil Fertility and Fertilizers. Eighth Edition. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, or any edition of this book.


This class is part of the Sustainable Food and Farming Online Certificate Program and will count toward the Associate of Science degree as well as the Online B.S. degree. THis online class is a graduate class and therefore costs $569/credit.

To begin planning for the future, see….

Annual Class Schedule

NOTE: The UMass Sustainable Food and Farming Certificate has been declared eligible for Veterans Educational Benefits. For instructions see: Veterans Benefits.

Academic Honesty

No form of cheating, plagiarism, fabrication, or facilitating of dishonesty will be condoned in the University community. Academic dishonesty includes but is not limited to:

  • Cheating – intentional use or attempted use of trickery, artifice, deception, breach of confidence, fraud and/or misrepresentation of one’s academic work
  • Fabrication – intentional and unauthorized falsification and/or invention of any information or citation in any academic exercise
  • Plagiarism – knowingly representing the words or ideas of another as one’s own work in any academic exercise. This includes submitting without citation, in whole or in part, prewritten term papers of another or the research of another, including but not limited to commercial vendors who sell or distribute such materials
  • Facilitating dishonesty – knowingly helping or attempting to help another commit an act of academic dishonesty, including substituting for another in an examination, or allowing others to represent as their own one’s papers, reports, or academic works

Sanctions may be imposed on any student who has committed an act of academic dishonesty. Any person who has reason to believe that a student has committed academic dishonesty should bring such information to the attention of the course instructor as soon as possible. Formal definitions of academic dishonesty, examples of various forms of dishonesty, and the procedures which faculty must follow to penalize dishonesty are contained in the Academic Honesty Policy.


This class fulfills requirements for all three of the online programs offered by the University of Massachusetts Stockbridge School of Agriculture in Sustainable Food and Farming: