Plant Nutrient Diagnosis in the Tropics

TPSS 475


James Keach


To help you become a Plant Nutrient Doctor.  To improve your ability to apply scientific knowledge to real world problems, in particular, those concerning plant nutrient disorders in the field, nursery, woodland, garden, or home.

Learning Objectives:  At the end of this course, the student learner will be able to: 1) list the essential macro- and micronutrients required by plants; 2) recognize common nutrient disorders of plants; 3) follow the appropriate steps in order to diagnose a nutrient disorder; 4) explain why plants require each nutrient element or why excesses injure plants; 5) explain why particular nutrient disorders are common under tropical conditions; 6) explain why management of certain nutrients is critical due to environmental concerns; 7) be able to propose a solution (such as fertilizers or other amendments) to correct the nutrient disorder, taking into consideration environmental protection; 8) search for reputable sources of internet-based information and scientific publications; 9) write a concise report using the expository writing style; and 10) present a well-organized, online talk about an essential micronutrient, beneficial nutrient, or topics in course textbook not covered by course teaching modules.


Online course with periodic synchronous sessions.

Computer skills to be acquired:

Literature searching via online databases. Zoom software for synchronous sessions. Various video editing for assignments.


BIOL 172 and TPSS/ NREM 304

Cross-Listed courses:

NREM 475


Marschner’s Mineral Nutrition of Higher Plants, 3rd ed.  Marschner, P. (ed.) 2012.  Academic Press.  ISBN: 978-0-12-384905-2.

Course organization:

Mostly asynchronous course with narrated PowerPoint lectures.   In the Laboratory assignment, the student will locate a nutrient-stressed plant and diagnose the problem, using tissue and soil samples and a literature review.  In the Term lecture assignment, students will develop a course presentation on a topic of choice in Plant Nutrition. 

To succeed in an online course, you will need to be (or quickly learn to be):

1.      Self-motivated and a self-starter;

2.      Well-organized and diligent (not a procrastinator); and

An active-learner (i.e., take responsibility for learning).


Grading system:

Homework (Introduction and mnemonics)          = 70 points

Quizzes after each teaching module                  = 190 points

Laboratory 1                                                      = 265 points

Term lecture                                                       = 265 points

Final exam (open-book)                                      = 150 points

Participation in Synchronous Sessions                = 60 points

Total:                                                                     1000 points

Bonus Points:                                                         60 points