Organic Weed Control

STOCKSCH 290W Organic Weed Control – Online

( 3 Credits)

To be scheduled….

Instructor: Vahram Elagöz     

Contact:  or


Course Description: Weed management for organic crop production should be seen as a proactive approach, based on the biology of weeds and the size and the scope of cultivation practices. Conventional crop production practices create conditions generally favorable to many weeds. A multitude of cultural practices mimicking the nature’s principles as realistically as possible are shown to reduce the proliferation of weeds while promoting the production of crops with acceptable yields and quality. The application of ecological principles as well as the adoption of creative practices should be preferred over quick-fix approaches. In this course the principles and practices of weed management in organic and sustainable crop production will be covered, the emphasis being on alternative weed management approaches that are less dependent on herbicides and utilize practices detrimental to weed and weed seed survival.

Students will learn how such approaches can be utilized to manage weeds: the basics of weed physiology and ecology; the application of cultural, mechanical, and biological techniques to manage weeds within an integrated organic weed management system. This course is designed considering organic farming practices in New England (i.e. small in size with many plantings of diverse crops) that may also be utilized in other regions or large-scale production.

Student Learning Objectives: This course aims to look at the biological, economic, and social components of organic and sustainable farming systems, emphasizing principles, concepts, and techniques of organic and sustainable production of crops. After taking this course, students will be able to:

  • Recognize the biological and ecological characteristics of weeds that allow them to be susceptible to organic management methods
  • Recognize the biological and ecological characteristics of crops that impact their coexistence with weeds
  • Understand and value the varied methods of organic weed management and the science and technology behind it
  • Describe history of organic agriculture development nationally and globally and explain the growth of organic industry and consumer trends
  • Demonstrate a working knowledge of the regulatory procedures and requirements of certified organic production
  • Evaluate critically opportunities and challenges for organic farming

Prerequisites: No prerequisites

Textbook: No required textbook. Lecture notes, supporting reading material, supplemental notes, and other information will be provided during the course of the semester.

Tentative Course Outline (Subject to change)*:

*(A more detailed outline is available on UMass Sustainable Food and Farming Program website)


Course Structure: On a weekly basis students will be provided with new Course Material. Each Friday a new Learning Module for the following week will be released, each consisting of Lecture, Discussion, Assignment, Quiz, and Supplemental Material Folders. While Lectures (PowerPoint Presentations in PDF format) will remain available until the end of the semester, Weekly Discussions, Assignments and Quizzes have set deadlines for completion. Active student participation is, therefore, necessary. Assignments, Quizzes, and Discussions will be released each Friday and remain open until the following Sunday. Assignments, Discussion Forums, and Quizzes are accessible from within the Learning Modules. Although all required work will come with clear instructions on how to complete/ submit within a given deadline, it is the student’s responsibility to submit the required work in a timely manner. Finally, a Term Paper on a course-related topic of choice will be due during the last week of class. Please check out the above tentative course outline for important deadlines.

Grading criteria:

  • Weekly Quizzes (25 %)
  • Weekly Assignments (25 %)
  • Weekly Discussions (25%)
  • Final Paper (25%)

Weekly Quizzes are based on lecture material and additional notes only and will be made up of easy to answer questions (e.g. True/False, Multiple Choice Question, and Short Response).

Weekly Assignments are based on the lecture material as well as a subject of interest suggested by the instructor whereupon students will submit a written one-page document before a set deadline. Weekly Discussions, on a topic assigned by the instructor, are the most stimulating part of the course, and will give students as well as the instructor the opportunity to exchange ideas/ opinions and interact with each other. It is expected that students actively participate in discussions, starting with an original, thoughtful discussion thread followed by at least one or two thoughtful posts as a response to posted comments. Students are expected to show a willingness to engage with their fellow students. In addition, each student has to submit a written final Term Paper on a course-related topic of choice no later than during the last week of class. The student’s performance throughout the semester will be assessed based on these assignments and quizzes.

Grade determination:

A   = (93-100)  A- = (90-92)       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 or IF = (59 or below)

Late Work:

  1. Assignments submitted after the due date is listed as “late.”
    • Assignments are listed as “late” until the cut-off-date.
  2. Assignments cannot be submitted after the cut-off
    • Assignments are listed as “missed” after the cut-off

Academic Honesty: Understanding the Academic Honesty policy is VERY important.

Ombuds Office and Academic Honesty Office

Students are expected to read and abide by guidelines for academic honesty detailed in the Undergraduate Rights and Responsibilities.

Accommodation Policy Statement:

Disability Services

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) that requires an accommodation, please notify me within the first two weeks of the semester so that we may make appropriate arrangements.

Technical Support:

The 24/7 Help Desk is available to students using Blackboard for their online courses at UMass Amherst through Continuing & Professional Education. If you are experiencing technical issues with the system, please contact them directly.

Contact information is located:

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

Library Services and Support: 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 U Mass Library Services. Students are strongly encouraged to contact Madeleine Charney, one of the Research Services Librarians at for further inquiries.

Netiquette (Online Course Expectations):

Style: I strongly encourage to separate academic language from slang for official communication. It is required that written material to be graded (e.g. written assignments) has formal sentence structure: no abbreviations or emoticons. Usage of caps in informal correspondence such as “I HAVE A QUESTION” may be regarded as yelling and thus discouraged whereas professionalism, positive attitude, proper and courteous language is expected.

Contacting the Instructor: I strongly advise and expect that the Mail Tool on Blackboard is used for standard communication. It is my aim and goal to respond to student inquiries within 24 hours during the weekdays, if on weekends the following Monday morning. Except for emergencies phone calls are discouraged. Phone numbers as well as personal email information may be provided with in exceptional cases.


This class is part of the Sustainable Food and Farming Online Certificate Program and will count toward the Associate of Science program.   Online classes cost $472/credit.  If you would like to register for the Certificate program, you may apply here.

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.

If you are not interested in earning college credit, there are many non-credited workshops and short courses you can take outside of the university.  For a list see: non-university workshops and courses.

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