Sustainable Agriculture

The B.S. degree in Sustainable Agriculture is an interdisciplinary major and overlaps some faculty and coursework with Agribusiness, Biology, Chemistry, Geography, Physics, Manufacturing Engineering, and Water Resources Management.

Study Life's Complexity

At Central State, biology majors study the beauty and complexity of the natural environment. You’ll hone your critical thinking and problem-solving skills through hands-on research. You’ll discover the origins of the present in courses like evolution and molecular genetics. And you’ll transform the future of our world by delving into fields like bioinformatics and environmental plant physiology.    

  • All students conduct research —– in and outside the classroom. 

  • Opportunities for paid summer laboratory internships 

  • All faculty hold PhDs and bring real-word experience to the classroom. 

  • All students benefit from small-class settings and one-on-one mentoring from professors. 

Agricultural Science Course Descriptions


    AGR 1150. Introduction to Sustainable Agriculture (I, II, III; 3)

    This course introduces conservation techniques for the production of food, fiber and other plant and animal products using farming techniques that protect the environment, public health, human communities and animal welfare. Both local and global issues of agricultural and food production sustainability will be explored from environmental, social, political and economic aspects. Three lectures per week. Course may be taught online. Prerequisite: None.

    AGR 1220. Horticulture (II, III; 4)

    This course introduces the basic principles and practices of horticulture including the structure, development, growth, distribution and utilization of fruits, vegetables, and ornamental plants. Focus will be on plant response to environmental conditions and sustainable management techniques. Three, one hour lectures and one, three-hour lab per week. Prerequisite: None.

    AGR 1250. Principles of Precision Agriculture (I; 3)

    This course introduces the basic principles and practices of precision agriculture including the history, applications, terminology, platforms, data, software and associated components available for use to improve yield and sustainability in agriculture systems. Career opportunities in the precision agriculture field will be explored. Three, one hour lectures per week. Prerequisite: None.

    AGR 2150. Introductory Animal Science (I; 4)

    An introduction to the field of animal science: Students will be exposed to fundamental information on comparative functional anatomy and physiology of livestock, poultry and companion animals. Emphasis will be placed on basic knowledge and its practical utility central to animal health and the use of animals for food production. The class meets three days a week and a three-hour lab. Prerequisite: BIO 1802.

    AGR 2340. Careers in Sustainable Agriculture (I; 1)

    This course introduces students to career choices in sustainable agriculture through highlighted speakers. Students will interactively discuss the pros and cons of various careers and the required skill sets and level of education for each. Students will also begin development of their professional resumes for future application to internships and other avenues of employment. One hour per week. Required of Sustainable Agriculture majors. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing, Sustainable Agriculture major.

    AGR 2350. Community Agriculture (II, III; 3)

    This course introduces the social, economic and ecological foundations of civic agriculture and sustainability. Topics will include community based food systems, supply chains, urban agriculture, food deserts and farmer markets. Students are expected to engage in a public problem-solving situation involving agriculture and feeding or nutrition/health programs. There is a service learning component to this course and all students are expected to participate in provided opportunities for at least 10 documented hours outside of the scheduled lecture time. Prerequisite: AGR 1150.

    AGR/WRM 2450. Soil Science (I, II, III; 4)

    This course introduces students to soils; their formation, classification and survey. It covers physical, chemical, and biological characteristics; soil management and its role in crop production. Lab is required as part of the four-hour course credit. Students are to register for both the course and laboratory. Three-hour lecture and two lab contact hours. Prerequisite: CHM 1202, PHY 2612, BIO 1500 or permission of the instructor.

    AGR/INT 3120. Agriculture Machines and Mechanization (I; 4)

    This course introduces students to mechanization in agriculture which involves selection, basic design, operation, maintenance and management of machinery and power systems typically used in the agriculture field operations and in production. The course also provides an overview of precision agriculture and sensors, GPS and real time kinematic GPS, remote sensing technologies, and computer guided delivery systems for precise and targeted delivery of irrigation water, fertilizers, and pesticides. Course in particular introduces agricultural power and machinery (engines, power transmissions including hydraulics, tillage machinery, calibrations, and harvesting machines), agricultural mechanization for improved agricultural materials handling, pest control applications, agricultural electrification including (circuits, motors, controls) and agricultural structures plans and constructions. Three-hour lecture and two lab contact hours per week. Prerequisite: INT 1210, AGR 1150, AGR 1250 and MTH 2501.

    AGR 3250. Grain Crops (I; 4)

    This course presents a study of the history, adaption, and distribution of cereal, forage, and miscellaneous crops around the world with emphasis on botany, physiology and sustainable crop production. Major cereal grain crops such as corn, wheat, rice, barley, sorghum, millet, triticale, rye and oats; grain legumes such as soybean and black eyed pea; and pseudo grains such as amaranth and quinoa will be emphasized. This class will teach the production principles of grain crops; postharvest handling; utilization options including food, feed and biofuel; and international trade. Three, one hour lectures and one, three-hour lap per week. Prerequisite: AGR 3330.

    AGR/WRM 3308. Environmental Law (II; 3)

    A case by case study of state and federal legislation relative to water use. Federal laws relating to water and environment; Land use legislation as it impacts the management of water resources and environment is also considered. Prerequisites: WRM 2200 or AGR 1150 or permission of the instructor.

    AGR/WRM 3330. Soil and Water Conservation (II; 4)

    Hydrological processes in agricultural fields - rainfall, infiltration, evaporation, evapotranspiration and runoff; Ground Water Processes; Water conservation practices; Soil erosion due to rainfall, its effect on agricultural productivity and water quality-estimating soil loss from agricultural lands using Agriculture Research Service (ARS-USDA) models - Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE) and its revisions; Practices to mitigate soil erosion; Design of grassed waterways, terraces and conservation structures; Wind erosion -estimation using ARS-USDA models and its mitigation; An examination of the federal, state and local organizations which carry out soil and water conservation programs. Field experience includes on-site observation of soil and water conservation practices. Three-hour lecture and one-hour lab/field work. Prerequisites: MTH 1750 and WRM 2200 or AGR 1150.

    AGR/WRM 3335. Irrigation and Drainage (I; 3)

    A first course in the study of irrigation and drainage and practices. Soil structure, soil moisture processes and infiltration; evapotranspiration processes and their applications in irrigation and drainage; Models for evapotranspiration and introduction to irrigation scheduling; Irrigation and drainage practices in different parts of the world; Introduction to on farm and main systems in large scale irrigation projects. Water control and distribution in large scale systems. Sprinkler irrigation for non-agricultural purposes and the on-site observation of irrigation and drainage systems in the area. Prerequisites: MTH 1750 and WRM 2200 or AGR 1150.

    AGR 3450. Agriculture Extension (II; 3)

    This course presents different forms of cooperative extension work in agriculture. Students will explore agricultural non-formal education, extension, and leadership. Oral and written communication will be stressed as students’ design educational training programs and professional presentations. Prerequisite: AGR 2350.

    AGR 4350. Principles of Integrated Pest Management (I; 4)

    This course introduces the principles and practices of Integrated Pest Management (IPM): Concepts, principles, development and application of IPM. IPM constitutes a series of pest control tactics and strategies toward more sustainable agriculture, natural resources, and urban and rural health and well-being. Three hours of lecture and one, three-hour lab per week. Prerequisite: AGR 3250 and AGR 3330.

    AGR/WRM 4406. Agricultural Development (I; 3)

    The role of agriculture in the economic development in the world. The course examines theories of agricultural growth and agriculture policy issues, with extensive use of case studies. Emphasis will be placed on the use of economic theory and its application to specific problems in the field of agriculture. Prerequisite: WRM 2200 or AGR 1150 or permission of the instructor.

    AGR/WRM 4420. Irrigation Systems Design (II; 4)

    An applied course in the design, of on-farm irrigation systems. Advanced evapotranspiration modeling and irrigation scheduling; Design and operational principles of surface, sprinkler and drip irrigation systems; Water losses in irrigation systems and the definitions of various efficiencies associated with on-farm and main irrigation systems. Hydraulic structures associated with distribution of water systems. On-farm application equipment selection and maintenance. Irrigation system performance and irrigation water management impacts on design; Introduction to irrigation water quality. Field visits to sprinkler irrigation systems in the area. Prerequisites: WRM/AGR 3335 or permission of the instructor.

    AGR/WRM 4425. Agricultural Drainage Systems Design (II; 4)

    An applied course in the design, construction and maintenance of drainage systems for agricultural fields. Surface drainage systems layout and design. Design of hydraulic structures associated with surface drainage systems - chutes, drops, outlet structures and culverts. Surface drainage systems in irrigated areas. Sub-surface system design principles. Steady state and unsteady state theories of tile drainage. Introduction to analysis of oxygen transport in root zone and the effect of submergence. Salt balance and water quality issues in subsurface drainage. System layout, construction materials and methods. Design of structures associated with subsurface drainage systems. Cost recovery of drainage systems and maintenance issues. Field visits to drainage systems in the area. Prerequisite: WRM/AGR 3335or permission of the instructor.

    AGR 4430. Topics in Sustainable Agriculture (On Demand; 3)

    This course is designed to present an in-depth study of topics not normally covered in other agriculturally related courses. This course meets for three hours per week. The topics selected will be dependent on the needs of the student. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

    AGR 4500. Internship in Sustainable Agriculture (I, II, III; 2)

    For this non-formal experience, students will work with a faculty mentor at Central State University directly, or may fulfill this requirement by doing an off-campus internship or job-shadowing experience. For the latter option, the student will work with a CSU faculty mentor during and upon return to campus to prepare and present a written and oral presentation for credit. Course meets minimum of four contact hours per week. Required for the major in sustainable agriculture. Prerequisite: sophomore standing and permission of the instructor.


Career Paths

Food and Agriculture is Ohio’s number one industry - only 10% of these jobs are traditional farming. To feed growing populations, the U.S. needs college graduates to enter agriculture related jobs and a lack of diversity is limiting new ideas to increasing food production and maintain the environment. The U.S. awards 35,400 degrees in agriculture each year, but at least 57,900 job openings in agriculture are available, especially in highly-skilled areas. New hires have expertise in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources and the environment – exactly the expertise a major in Sustainable Agriculture provides.  

  • Nutrition, Food chemistry, Food production

  • Biomaterials, Biofuels

  • Plant science, Forestry

  • Water Management and Conservation,

  • Sustainable Agriculture, Agriculture Technology, Management and Business;

Cadance Lowell, Ph.D.

At Central State University, we are continuously looking at new ways of doing things, in our fields, with sensors, and technology.

Cadance Lowell, Ph.D.

Experiences and Opportunities

Learning doesn’t stop when class ends. Opportunities to increase your knowledge and expand your network include hands-on research for all students, top speakers and CSU’s chapter of the national biology honors society. 

  • At CSU, even undergraduates do research, whether it’s at the campus lab or off-campus at an internship. You’ll work with professors and research scientists, and some students present and publish nationally. 

  • You’ll hear about research, the bedrock of the field from guest speakers throughout the year. And you’ll begin to imagine the career paths you can take with your degree and the impact you’ll be able to have. 

  • Students who qualify for induction have access to national speakers and networks in the discipline.  

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You’ll gain invaluable hands-on experience teaching in Dayton or Xenia public schools as you prepare for certification.

 You’ll discover the origins of the present in courses like evolution and molecular genetics. And you’ll transform the future of our world by delving into fields like bioinformatics and environmental plant physiology.