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1 CALIFORNIA CERTIFIED CROP ADVISER PERFORMANCE OBJECTIVES California Certified Crop Advisers 1143 N. Market Blvd., Ste. 7 Sacramento, CA Telephone: (916) Facsimile: (916) Website: August, 2008

2 TABLE OF CONTENTS Table of Contents 1 Introduction 2 Nutrient Management Competency Areas I. Basic concepts of nutrient management 3 II. Nutrient movement in soil and water 3 III. Soil reaction and soil amendments 3 IV. PH modification 3 V. N, P, K plant requirements 4 VI. Secondary nutrient and micronutrient plant requirements 4 VII. Soil test reports and fertilizer recommendations 5 VIII. Fertilizer and application 5 IX. Plant tissue analysis 5 X. Fertilizer laws and regulations 5 XI. Certified organic nutrient management 5 Soil and Water Management Competency Areas I. Basic physical properties of soils and water 7 II. Drainage and water movement in soils 7 III. Soil conservation 7 IV. Tillage operation and soil characteristics 8 V. Saline and sodic soils and waters 8 VI. Water quality for irrigation 8 VII. Environmental impacts of soil and water management 9 VII. Irrigation and plant water use 9 Crop Management Competency Areas I. Basic Crop Science 10 II. General Crop Adaptation 10 III. Tillage systems used for seedbed preparation of row, small grain and forage crops 10 IV. Crop damage, mortality, and factors influencing 10 replanting decisions V. Cropping systems 10 1

3 INTRODUCTION The contents of this document outline the knowledge areas covered in the California Certified Crop Advisor (CA CCA) Exam. They constitute what a person needs to know to qualify as a Certified Crop Advisor in California. The CA CCA Performance Objectives are reviewed at least once every three years, updates are added, and outdated information removed. Updated: August, 2008 ********************************************************************* CA CCA Testing and Continuing Education Committee: *Franz Niederholzer, UC Farm Advisor; Sutter/Yuba Counties *Keith Backman, Certified Professional Horticulturist; Dellavalle Laboratory, Inc. Rob Mikkelsen, Western US Director; International Plant Nutrition Institute Bob Fry, Conservation Agronomist, USDA/NRCS Sharon Benes, Professor, Calfornia State University, Fresno. Richard Rosecrance, Professor, California State University, Chico Dan Putman, Extension Specialist, University of California, Davis. *Co-chairs. 2

4 NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT COMPETENCY AREA I. BASIC CONCEPTS OF NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT A. The soil as a source of nutrients 1. List the 16 nutrients essential for plant growth 2. List the ionic form in which each nutrient is available to plants 3. Describe the role of cation exchange in plant nutrition 4. Define soil solution and describe its relationship to nutrient mobility 5. Describe how immobilization and mineralization affect nutrient availability 6. Describe how soil ph affects nutrient availability 7. Explain how cation exchange capacity affects nutrient leaching 8. Describe potential environmental problems with nitrogen and phosphorus B. Assessment of soil productivity based on soil physical properties 9. Describe how texture, structure, organic matter, and bulk density affect the productivity of soil 10. Describe how banding and broadcasting affects nutrient availability 11. Explain how soil layering and restricted zones affect productivity II. NUTRIENT MOVEMENT IN SOIL AND WATER 12. Distinguish between point and non-point sources of entry into the environment 13. Explain how soil, climatic, and nutrient properties affect movement of a nutrient in soil or water 14. Explain how soil properties, irrigation practices, and cropping patterns affect leaching of nutrients 15. Explain how application timing affects leaching of nutrients 16. Explain how fall fertilizer applications affects nutrient leaching III. SOIL REACTION AND SOIL AMENDMENTS 17. Define soil ph and the ph scale 18. List processes or practices that cause soil ph to change 19. Describe the benefits from lowering or raising soil ph 20. Explain how soil ph and physical properties affect soil processes such as nitrogen volatilization 21. Explain how free lime (calcium carbonate) affects nutrient availability 22. Describe the relationships of ph in saline soils, saline-sodic soils, or sodic soils IV. PH MODIFICATION 23. Describe the process of liming to increase soil ph. 24. Describe ph modification associated with addition of various nitrogen sources 25. Describe the process by which various sulfur sources cause soil acidification 3

5 V. N, P, K PLANT REQUIREMENTS A. Nitrogen 26. Describe the role of nitrogen for plant growth 27. Describe general nitrogen deficiency symptoms 28. Describe the nitrogen cycle and how it affects nitrogen availability 29. Describe the ways nitrogen may be lost from the soil 30. Describe how soil physical properties affect the effectiveness of nitrogen fertilizers to supply crop demands for nitrogen 31. Explain how cropping systems affect the rate of nitrogen fertilization 32. Explain how soil drainage, irrigation, precipitation levels, and potential for water contamination affect the rate of nitrogen fertilization 33. Describe the safety precautions that should be taken in handling various nitrogen fertilizers 34. Explain the role of nitrogen application timing on plant availability and potential for water quality pollution 35. Describe how to incorporate nitrogen contribution from soil sources including biological fixation, nitrogen mineralization and soil test nitrogen levels into fertilizer recommendations 36. Describe the analysis and chemical composition of different nitrogen fertilizers B. Phosphorus 37. Describe the role of phosphorus for plant growth 38. Explain general phosphorus deficiency symptoms 39. Explain how soil properties affect phosphorus fertilization rates 40. Explain how cropping systems affect phosphorus fertilization rates 41. Describe how the soil retains phosphorus 42. Describe the analysis and chemical composition of different phosphorus fertilizers 43. Explain how phosphorus applications differ relative to water quality pollution potential C. Potassium 44. Describe the role of potassium for plant growth 45. Describe general potassium deficiency symptoms in plants 46. Describe how the soil retains potassium 47. Explain how soil properties affect the rate of potassium fertilization 48. Explain how cropping systems affect the rate of potassium fertilization 49. Describe the analysis and chemical composition of different potassium fertilizers VI. SECONDARY AND MICRO-NUTRIENT PLANT REQUIREMENTS 50. Describe the general deficiency and toxicity symptoms of the secondary nutrients 4

6 51. Describe the general deficiency and toxicity symptoms of the micronutrients 52. List methods of correcting secondary and micro-nutrient deficiencies 53. Explain the affect of soil ph on micronutrient availability 54. Explain how secondary and micro-nutrients move/are retained in soil VII. SOIL TEST REPORTS AND FERTILIZER RECOMMENDATIONS 55. Use a map to locate a tract of land and give a legal description 56. Use a soil survey report to identify soils in a field and describe characteristics of each soil profile 57. Describe soil sampling and handling procedures 58. Describe the purpose of soil testing and the role of sampling, analysis, interpretation and recommendation in making a fertilizer recommendation 59. Describe the agronomic importance of items on a soil test report 60. Use information from soil test reports and calibration data to determine economically and environmentally sound fertilizer recommendations 61. Use fertilizer analysis information to calculate amounts of different fertilizers required to meet a specific recommendation VIII. FERTILIZER AND APPLICATION 62. Describe potential advantages and disadvantages of different fertilizer placements and timing of application on productivity and crop quality 63. Explain how fertilizer placement and time of application affect nutrient availability and leaching as related to the environment 64. Describe special environmental concerns associated with fertigation IX. PLANT TISSUE ANALYSIS 65. Describe tissue sampling and handling procedures 66. List purposes of tissue testing. 67. Describe the relationship between nutrient critical concentration and plant part (old vs. new growth) and plant age. 68. Describe how tissue testing might be used to solve a field problem. X. FERTILIZER LAWS AND REGULATIONS 69. List requirements for a material to be a fertilizer. 70. List requirements for a material to be an amendment. 71. Describe and interpret the contents of a fertilizer label. 72. Identify who enforces fertilizer laws and regulations in California. XI. CERTIFIED ORGANIC NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT 73. Explain how the ratio and quantity of nutrients present in organic materials can be balanced with a plant s requirements, especially the amounts removed from the field in the harvested portion of the plant. 5

7 74. List advantages and disadvantages of (certified?) organic vs conventional nutrient sources. 75. Outline the original and intermediary sources of nutrients entering a farm that uses strictly organic materials (manures, residues, etc.) in production and the eventual fate of these nutrients. 76. Describe how soil fertility is managed in a certified organic system. 77. Explain the processes that occur during composting, and the pros and cons of composted materials. 6

8 SOIL AND WATER MANAGEMENT COMPETENCY AREA I. BASIC PHYSICAL PROPERTIES OF SOILS AND WATER A. Soil texture 1. List the characteristics of sand, silt, and clay 2. Use a textural triangle to determine textural classification of a soil when given the percents of two of the soil separates 3. Explain how texture influences many other soil physical and chemical properties. B. Soil structure 4. List the benefits of well-developed soil aggregation 5. List the problems associated with poor soil aggregation 6. Explain how soil organisms and organic matter affect soil structure 7. Explain how soil management (tillage, cropping systems...) affects soil structure. 8. Describe how exchangeable sodium and soil salinity affect soil aggregation and water penetration and movement in soils C. Soil organic matter 9. Explain how soil organic matter affects soil aggregation, water holding capacity and water infiltration 10. Explain how soil organic matter is related to CEC, color, structure, and soil warming 11. Describe the role of soil organic matter in pesticide movement in soil 12. List ways to maintain the organic matter content of an agricultural soil 13. Describe the importance of soil organic matter in nutrient management 14. Describe how the carbon:nitrogen ratio of organic materials in the soil may affect the availability of soil nitrogen to plants 15. List the advantages and disadvantages of using cover crops to modify soil fertility and tilth. II. DRAINAGE AND WATER MOVEMENT IN SOIL 16. Describe how pore size distribution affects the drainage characteristics and water holding capacities of soils 17. Explain how soil texture, structure, and organic matter content affects pore size, soil drainage and plant available water 18. Explain how plant residues and tillage affect infiltration rate 19. Explain the nature and development of clay, silica, and other cementable materials and how they can strongly influence drainage and root development. 20. Describe the influence of stratified layers on soil drainage and how to manage them. III. SOIL CONSERVATION 7

9 21. Describe wind erosion and the types of water erosion 22. List management practices that reduce water and wind erosion 23. Describe how soil loss through erosion can result in nutrient losses and impact the environment. 24. Describe how soil erosion affects field productivity IV. TILLAGE OPERATIONS AND SOIL CHARACTERISTICS 25. Explain how tillage operations influence erosion, soil structure, organic matter content, and compaction 26. Identify plant symptoms and soil characteristics associated with compaction and impermeable layers 27. Describe methods which alleviate compaction and conditions necessary for successful implementation 28. Describe the negative impacts of tilling or using heavy equipment on wet soils. V. SALINE AND SODIC SOILS AND WATERS 29. Define saline, saline-sodic, and sodic soils 30. Explain how the growth stage of the crop can affect its salt tolerance. 31. Explain how rootstocks can affect the tolerance of tree and vine crops to salinity and specific ion toxicity 32. Explain the relationship between sodium absorption ratio (SAR) and exchangeable sodium percentage (ESP) 33. Describe how soil salinity and exchangeable sodium interact to affect soil structure, and water penetration and movement in soils 34. Explain why good drainage is the key to soil reclamation and to the long-term sustainability of irrigation. 35. List techniques used to improve saline, saline-sodic, and sodic soils for crop growth. 36. Describe how to calculate the leaching requirement 37. Describe how to prepare seedbeds to minimize salt accumulation in the seedling zone 38. Describe how various amendments function in improving saline, saline-sodic, and sodic soils 39. Explain the difference between an amendment which supplies calcium directly and one that supplies calcium by the dissolution of soil lime (calcium carbonate) 40. Describe the complications associated with irrigation water management and control of saline conditions 41. Explain why drainage waters generated by irrigated agriculture can pose an environmental hazard to both surface and groundwater VI. WATER QUALITY FOR IRRIGATION 42. Describe the major constituents of irrigation water 43. Identify the chemical constituents that are commonly used to evaluate irrigation water quality. Which of these can cause specific ion toxicities 8

10 44. Explain the effect of bicarbonate on water quality. 45. Explain the effects of irrigation water salinity and SAR on soil degradation due to aggregate dispersion, soil crusting, and reduced infiltration rates 46. Describe how to convert ion concentrations expressed in ppm (mg/l) to concentrations expressed in meq/l using tabular values of the charge weight (millequivalent weight) for individual ions 47. Explain how the precipitation of the calcium and bicarbonate contained in the irrigation water as soil lime (calcium carbonate) can affect its sodicity hazard 48. Explain the influence of water-quality on the potential for clogging problems with drip irrigation systems VII. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF SOIL AND WATER MANAGEMENT 49. Describe how soil and water management practices can affect movement of nutrients and pesticides to surface and groundwater. 50. Describe what is meant by Risk Assessment for nutrient and pesticide loss from farmland. 51. Describe the purpose of a Phosphorus Index or a Nitrogen Index. 52. Explain how infiltration and percolation rates affect potential ground water contamination 53. Describe how sprinkler, furrow, flood, and drip irrigation methods can impact surface and ground water quality VIII. IRRIGATION AND PLANT WATER USE 54. Define plant available water and available water capacity (AWC) 55. Describe the differences between soil moisture saturation percentage, available water capacity, and permanent wilting point 56. Describe the relative amounts of available water held by soils of differing textures 57. List equipment used to measure soil water 58. Describe the effect of saline water on water use by plants 59. Explain the hazards associated with sprinkler irrigation. 60. Describe how to calculate the water requirement of a crop from the amount of water needed to meet evapo-transpiration (ET). Under saline conditions, how would you factor in the leaching requirement [keeping in mind that if high enough, salinity could reduce the crop water requirement]? 61. Describe how to use soil and crop characteristics, and climatic data to develop an irrigation schedule. 62. Explain the value of water meters in irrigation management. 63. Explain the role of backflow protection in irrigation systems. 64. Explain the importance of tailwater management to improve irrigation efficiency and protect surface water and groundwater quality. 9

11 CROP MANAGEMENT COMPETENCY AREA I. BASIC CROP SCIENCE 1. Define xylem and phloem and describe their functions in plants. 2. Define meristematic tissue. 3. Define photosynthesis and respiration. 4. Define physiological maturity. 5. Define transpiration. 6. Explain the interaction of internal (genetic) and external (environmental) factors on crop production. II. GENERAL CROP ADAPTATION 7. Describe how crops respond to soil fertility, soil ph extremes, and soil drainage 8. Describe the soil ph ranges where agronomically important crops will perform best 9. Explain how the water needs of a crop typically change during growth and development 10. Explain how the nutrient needs of a crop typically change during growth and development III. TILLAGE SYSTEMS USED FOR SEEDBED PREPARATION OF ROW, SMALL GRAIN AND FORAGE CROPS 11. Describe the environmental and management factors that influence the selection and use of a tillage system 12. Explain how cropping systems, environment, and tillage affect soil residue cover 13. List the advantages and limitations of a no-till system IV. CROP DAMAGE, MORTALITY, AND FACTORS INFLUENCING REPLANTING DECISIONS 14. Describe the types of damage hail, frost, flooding, drought, and wind can cause to agronomic crops 15. List climatic and plant factors which influence plant mortality or its ability to resume growth after injury V. CROPPING SYSTEMS 16. Describe the function(s) of fallow in crop production 17. Explain the advantages and limitations of growing cover crops 18. Explain the advantages and limitations of a monoculture system versus a crop rotation 19. List the advantages and limitations of precision farming techniques including global positioning systems (GPS) 10