Plant Nutrients

STOCKSCH 104 (2 Credits)

Instructor: George LoCascio 


Student (office) hours: email for appointment, we can meet on zoom.

George’s description

We will dive in and learn how plants take in, use, and move around mineral nutrients. We will also discover how and why plants show different signs and symptoms of nutrient deficiencies and toxicities. Ever wonder why only the lower leaves on a plant are turning yellow? Come along and find out! We will also discuss ways to alleviate these deficiencies with conventional and natural remedies.

Formal Course Description:

Functions of mineral nutrients in plants, effects of mineral deficiencies, and sources of these nutrients to prevent or alleviate deficiencies in crop production.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  1. Illustrate the fundamental concepts that micro and macro nutrients play in plant physiology
  2. Learn the signs and symptoms of mineral nutrient deficiencies and toxicities
  3. Understand how plants acquire and translocate mineral nutrients within the soil environment and within themselves
  4. Explain the differences between elements on a chemical level

Course Structure:

At the beginning of each week, students will be provided with a video lecture and power point slides. Please view the pre-recorded video lecture and lecture slides in order to take the weekly quiz no later than Friday night @11:59 EST. In addition to the lecture, there will be weekly reading and listening assignments on the weeks’ specific topics. We will have discussions on micronutrients, fertilizer use and other topics within Moodle. Please read the document(s), listen to the podcasts and post to the weekly discussion forum no later than Sunday night,@11:59 EST. There will be guiding questions for the discussions to get the conversation going and will need to do independent investigations to complete the assignment. Interacting with fellow students is part of the discussion grade and posting to at least one other student’s post is required.

Course expectations:

Students are expected to complete all assignments in a timely manner. Since our course is short, time management is a critical component to success. In addition to time management, being prepared to have meaningful and in-depth discussions with fellow students is critical. Our course is completely online within UMass-Amherst Moodle learning platform.

Suggested Text: (NOT required)


Weekly Quizzes (6 total) 60%

Discussions 30%

Reading a fertilizer label ‘lab’ practical 10%

UMass grading system:

A =  95-100 A – =  90-94 B+ =  87-89  B =  83-86  B- =  80-82  C+  =  77-79 C =  73-76 C- =  70-72  D+  =  67-69 D =  60-66  F =  59 or below


Weekly quizzes will vary from 15 to 20 questions. All weekly content (Podcast, readings, lecture videos/slides) from a giving week are fair game for being the quizzes.


In addition to the guiding questions I provide and the research you will need to do for the discussions, we will utilize the the ‘QCC’ method. For each week you will need to respond to at least one fellow student’s post and; Ask a Question, make a Comment, and pose a point of confusion that needs Clarification (QCC).

‘Lab’ practical:

Based on several soil test and tissue diagnostic laboratory test results, students will be asked to answer questions about the results and asked to provide recommendations.

Student Responsibilities
 We will both grow and develop just like the plants we seek to learn from. This course requires you to work independently and collaboratively, and seek assistance when needed. Even plants need assistance from time to time which we will soon learn. You will receive support and guidance from instructors and mentors, but the final product is a result of your effort. I ask that you remain aware of all assignments and their due dates. Making sure that you complete the weekly tasks are critical for success. When in doubt take a glance at this syllabus. Please reach out to me if anything is unclear in the syllabus after you have taken a look at its contents first.

Late Policy

Due to the nature of our fast paced independent course, late work is hard to accept. BUT, please reach out to ask for an extension. After asking for two extensions, it will be extremely difficult for me to grant any more. I do recognize that life can get in the way! But my leniency cannot be abused.  If an assignment is two or more weeks late and the reason why has not been discussed with me, there will be a 20% point reduction for each week the assignment is late.

Course Technology Requirements

Students will require a reliable computer and fast WiFi or broadband service.  Smartphones and tablets may not give you adequate access to all aspects of the online course material.

Accommodation Statement:

The University of Massachusetts Amherst is committed to providing an equal educational opportunity for all students.  If you have a documented physical, psychological, or learning disability on file with Disability Services (DS), you may be eligible for reasonable academic accommodations to help you succeed in this course.  If you have a documented disability that requires an accommodation, please notify me within the first two weeks of the semester so that we may make appropriate arrangements.

Academic Honesty Statement:

Since the integrity of the academic enterprise of any institution of higher education requires honesty in scholarship and research, academic honesty is required of all students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  Academic dishonesty is prohibited in all programs of the University.  Academic dishonesty includes but is not limited to: cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, and facilitating dishonesty.  Appropriate sanctions may be imposed on any student who has committed an act of academic dishonesty.  Instructors should take reasonable steps to address academic misconduct.  Any person who has reason to believe that a student has committed academic dishonesty should bring such information to the attention of the appropriate course instructor as soon as possible.  Instances of academic dishonesty not related to a specific course should be brought to the attention of the appropriate department Head or Chair.  Since students are expected to be familiar with this policy and the commonly accepted standards of academic integrity, ignorance of such standards is not normally sufficient evidence of lack of intent

Technical Support

The 24/7 Help Desk is available to strudents using Moodle for their online courses at UMass Amherst through the University Without Walls. If you are experiencing technical issues with the system, please contact them directly.

Contact information is located:

  1. On the Moodle Learn login page under “Need Technical Support?”
  2. Within the “Help Desk Information” module within Moodle

Library Services and Support – See; for available services, library locations, databases & collections and more.  For additional support about the usage of web resources for assignments please contact the instructor as well as the UMass Library Services.

Stockbridge School or Agriculture Online –

%d bloggers like this: