Linear Programming in Agriculture

Ag Business 435

Instructor: / Dr. Sean Hurley
Office: / 22-208
Phone: / 756-5050
e-mail: /
Web Page: /
Class Meeting Time: / MW2:10 – 4:00 in 10-215
Office Hours: / TR1:30 – 4:00, or by appointment

Prerequisite: AGB 313

Primary Textbook:

Introduction to Management Science (4th edition) by Hillier and Hillier.

Reference Textbooks:

Practical Management Science (3rdedition) by Winston and Albright.

Applied Management Science (2nd edition) by Lawrence and Pasternak.

Resource Websites:

Course Objectives:

  • Analyze and abstract the important components of agricultural business problem
  • Classify the different types of agricultural business scenarios that can be solved using linear programming
  • Set-up and use spreadsheets to solve agricultural business problems
  • Solve a case study using Excel
  • Write a professional business report


Grading Components: / Weight
Problem Sets, Case Studies, andActivities / 20%
Attendance Quizzes andReading Quizzes / 15%
Class Participation and Effort / ε
Final (6/4/12; 1:10p.m. – 4:00 p.m.) / 35%
Executive Summaries / 10%
Group Project—Report (Due 5/23/12) / 20%

Problem Sets, Case Studies, and Activities

There will be approximately four problem sets and/or case studies. These problem sets are meant to be challenging, so you can expect that they should take, on average, at least six to ten hours of work. You are allowed and encouraged to work on the problem sets in groups. If you work in groups on the problem sets, make sure that you personally know how to do each problem. A problem set that is submitted late will receive a 0. A problem set is defined as late if it is submitted after the problem sets submitted on the due date have been graded by the professor and returned to the students.

There will be approximately eight in-class activities. These activities will primarily be computer activities that are applied problems to linear programming and spreadsheet modeling. While time will be allocated in class to do these activities, you should expect that some activities might need to be finished outside of class. An activity is always due the next class period unless otherwise stated by the professor.

Attendance Quizzes, Pop Quizzes and Class Participation

Since the textbook is an integral part of this course, there is an expectation you will read the text. To provide incentive for you to read the text, quizzes will be given approximately once a week related to the material being covered that week. Anything in the chapter is fair game for the quizzes. These quizzes may also ask questions from the previous two or three lectures or related to the activity recently conducted. To do well on the pop quizzes, it is suggested that you review your notes on a daily basis and keep up-to-date on the reading.

The professor reserves the right to give attendance quizzes. If you have to miss a class, you need to send a business memoto the professor before class has begun. If the memo is deemed professional and an attendance quiz is given you will receive credit for the attendance quiz for that day. If you are unsure of the structure of a business memo, you can find templates in Word or you can find examples on-line.

While this course is primarily lab oriented, class participation is strongly encouraged. It is a minimum expectation of the professor that you will ask questions when you are confused on a topic being covered in the course.[1] To motivate class participation, a value of ε is being used. The term ε in mathematics is often used to mean a small number. In the case of this course, ε is being used as the professor’s subjective measure that he will assign to each student for his/her participation and effort in the course. The value of ε will be nonnegative and worth no more than 3%, i.e., 3% ≥ ε ≥ 0, and will only be given a positive value for extraordinary class participation and/or effort. Please note that ε can take a student above 100% making this measure similar to extra credit. Also, you should expect the percentage of students getting a positive ε will be no larger than 20% of the class. Please note that ε is non-negotiable and any attempt to do so will guarantee that a zero for this value is assigned to the person that attempts to negotiate.


There will be only one exam for the course. This exam is comprehensive and will cover everything done in activities, lecture, class-assigned case studies, and problem sets.

Group Project

You will be required to do a group project. This project will consist of your group choosing a case study from the many textbooks the professor has available in his office or on course reserve. There are also case studies available at: You must get the permission of the professor for the case study your group will do.

The group project will require your team to examine a case study and write a five page professional business report. This report will summarize the case study, explain how you examined the problem, demonstrate the results of the case study, discuss the sensitivity analysis you conducted, and give final suggestions and conclusions. This report should be written as if you were presenting it to the board of directors of a company. You should also include a one page executive summary (beyond the five pages). If you are unsure how to write an executive summary or a business report, please check the web or ask the professor for guidance. Students will have an opportunity to grade the performance of their group members which will be incorporated into the final project grade.

Each group will consist of three people unless prior arrangements have been made with the professor. It is your responsibility to find members for your group. By April 2, 2012, at 4:00 p.m. your group will need to submit a list of your group members to the professor in a business memo. Every day this business memo is late your group will lose 1 percentage point on the final grade of the project.

The grade for the project will be assigned to all the people in your group whose first and last name are on the first page of the report. Hence, if there is one person in your group that has not participated in the project, the group can leave that person’s name off the report. Each member in the group will also have the opportunity to grade the other members of the group.

Executive Summaries

You are required to identify and read three articles from the journal Interfaces. These articles should somehow relate to the food and fiber industry. If you are unsure if the article you are examining is pertinent to this industry, please check with the professor before reviewing. To find this journal, you can go to the library website. You must develop an executive summary for each of these three articles. Each summary along with a PDF of the article must be emailed to me by 2:00 p.m.on the due date. The first executive summary is due on April11th, the second on April25th, and the third on May9th. Each executive summary is worth 20 points. A late executive summary will automatically lose half of the total points. Early executive summaries will be accepted. For each spelling and/or grammatical error, you will lose 1 point. The summary should be single-spaced and no longer than one full page. The margins of the paper should be 1-inch around the whole document. Make sure you properly cite the article in your executive summary. Any deviations from these technical criteria will lose you a point for each occurrence.

The executive summary should be broken-up into the following components. The first component should discuss the problem statement of the article, i.e., what is the issue that is being examined. The second component of the summary should discuss the methodology employed by the researchers. The third component should talk about the major results and findings of the study. The final component should talk about the summary and conclusions made in the article. For each missing component, you will lose five points. You should judiciously use bullet points in the text, but do not overuse them.

Final Grade

Your final grade will be based on the weighted average of the five components of the course. Grades will be issued on the following scale:

  • 90% of weighted average guarantees an A-,
  • 80% of weighted average guarantees a B-,
  • 70% of weighted average guarantees a C-,
  • 60% of weighted average guarantees a D-,
  • Below 60% of weighted average guarantees an F.

Professor’s Expectation

It is the expectation of the professor that you will spend at approximately 2 hours outside of class working on problem sets, readings, and group projects for every hour you are supposed to spend in class. These hours may not be equally distributed across the quarter. Please budget your time wisely.

Course Policies

Right to Syllabus Change Policy

The instructor reserves the right to make any changes to this syllabus at anytime during the course. If a change is made, a new syllabus will be handed out.

Students with Learning and/or Physical Disability Policy

Any student with a learning and/or physical disability who needs accommodations or assistance in this course should make an appointment to speak with the instructor as soon as possible.

Cheating Policy

Cheating/academic dishonesty will not be tolerated in the course. If you are discovered cheating or are an accomplice in helping someone cheat on an exam, quiz, or homework you will receive a zero on the respective item. You will also be reported to the dean’s office for disciplinary matters. For a description on Cal Poly’s cheating policy please go to the following web page:

Cell Phones

Cell phones are strictly prohibited on exam days. If you are caught with one, you will receive a zero on the exam. During class time cell phones must be turned to silent mode. If you have a call, you must take it outside the classroom. If the instructor hears your cell phone and is able to identify you in class, he has the option of deducting up to 5% off your final grade for each occurrence. If you do not wish to have the 5% deducted from your grade, you will need to purchase a slice of pizza or its equivalent for each student in the class for the next class meeting.

Make-Up or Early Exam Policy

No make-up exams will be given in the course except for the final. If you miss a midterm for a valid reason, then the weighting for that midterm will be placed on the final. If you miss a final for a valid reason, you will receive an Incomplete grade in the course and will be required to take a make-up exam within the first four weeks of the next quarter you attend. There are only two valid reasons for missing an exam: 1) a family member dies, or 2) you are unexpectedly sick or injured to the point that you need to see a medical doctor the day of the exam. If a family member passes away, you will need to bring to the make-up exam the death certificate to be able to take it. Please note that the family pet is not considered a family member under this policy. If you are unexpectedly sick or injure to the point that you need to see a medical doctor the day of the exam, you will need to bring a note from the doctor that explains that the illness or injury was so bad that there would have been no way you could have taken the exam the day it was scheduled. Family vacations or any other type of vacations are not an acceptable reason for obtaining a make-up exam. No early exams will be given.

Classroom Civility Policy

It is expected that you will be respectful to both the professor and other classmates. If you choose to be disrespectful, you will either 1) be asked to leave and your total grade will be adjusted down by three percentage points, or 2) you will be required to come to the board and lecture on the concept being presented, and your total grade will be affected by zero to three percent dependent upon how well you present the material. Anything that is disruptive to the class is deemed disrespectful including the following behavior:

Text messaging

Listening to your music player when lecture is in session

Playing games on your mobile device/computer

Talking loudly during lecture that is not related to the course

Packing your bag before class is finished

Consistently arriving late to class without providing a valid reason to the professor

Verbally attacking a person rather than attacking the person’s ideas

Leaving early without telling the professor beforehand (The only exception to this is if you become ill during class.)

Showing-up to class intoxicated

Chewing tobacco

Bringing your pet to class

FERPA Policies

The professor of this course respects your FERPA rights. As a policy, the professor will only discuss your grades to you in person. No grades will be given over the phone or through email. No student other than yourself will be allowed to pick up your homework or exams. To facilitate the class, the professor may call on you by name. If you would prefer your name not to be used in the course, it is your responsibility to notify the professor in writing by the end of the first week.

Dr. Hurley’s Key to Success:

Attend ALL classes!!!

Do all the homework and problem sets

Understand the homework and problem sets

Work in groups to do the homework and problem sets

Attend ALL classes!!!

Start all homework and problem sets on the day they are distributed

Utilize Dr. Hurley’s office hours

Ask questions in class

Attend ALL classes!!!

Topics for Ag Bus 435

Topic / Chapter(s) in Primary Text

Introduction to Management Science

/ Chapter 1
Linear Programming: Basic Concepts / Chapter 2
Linear Programming: Formulation and Applications / Chapter 3
The Art of Modeling with Spreadsheets / Chapter 4
What-If Analysis for Linear Programming / Chapter 5
Network Optimization Problems / Chapter 6
Using Binary Integer Programming to Deal with Yes-or-No Decisions / Chapter 7
Nonlinear Programming / Chapter 8
PERT/CPM Models and Project Management (If time allows) / Chapter 16 on CD
Decision Analysis (If time allows) / Chapter 9
Computer Simulation (If time allows) / Chapters 12 and 13

Agribusiness / Roles, Rights, and Responsibilities of Students, Faculty, and Staff, September, 2011
Academic Community / Students, faculty, and staff in the Agribusiness Department and Cal Poly are all members of the academic community. We have chosen to be members of this community, which means that we have roles, rights, and responsibilities.
We must respect important aspects of our community:
  • Respect each other and ourselves,
  • Respect the classroom as a place of exploration where the freedom to learn should flourish, and
  • Respect the different cultural and racial backgrounds and experiences of members of our community and beyond.

Roles / We each have a role in the academic community.
Students / Faculty / Staff
Learners and active participants / Educators, scholars, and mentors / Providers of services that enable teaching, learning, and scholarship to occur
Rights / As members of the academic community, we have some basic rights. We all have the right to be treated with respect, in a fair and non-discriminatory manner. Additional rights are more specific to one’s role in the community.
Students / Faculty / Staff
To expect substantial presentation of course material, clear expectations and reasonable accessibility to faculty / To decide course content, instructional methods, and how to evaluate student learning / To be treated as professionals, to be addressed as they choose and to manage the priorities of their workloads
Responsibilities / In order for the academic community to flourish, we must all treat others with respect and take responsibility for our actions. Additional responsibilities are more specific to one’s role in the community.
Students / Faculty / Staff
  • To register, add, and drop classes in a timely fashion
  • To meet the standards of performance and conduct as established by the University and course instructor
  • To read e-mail and respond in a timely manner
  • To be a model representative of Cal Poly beyond the academic community
  • To ensure that students have the opportunity to meet course objectives
  • To maintain a classroom environment that is conducive to learning
  • To inform students of their expectations of classroom conduct and academic performance (in the course syllabus)
  • To support the educational, administrative, and academic activities of the Department, College, and University
  • To facilitate adherence to Department, College and University policies
  • To prepare and monitor reports as required by the University, College, and Department

Sources / Standards for student conduct and the Cal Poly policy on academic dishonesty is available at
Cal Poly’s statement on Commitment to Community is available at
Official Cal Poly policies on the Rights and Responsibilities of Individuals are available at
Class Responsibilities / In the classroom, responsibilities of students and faculty are much more specific. Below is an inclusive, yet non-exhaustive, set of guidelines intended to ensure that all students have the opportunity to learn. Individual faculty may impose penalties for behavior that violates these guidelines, as described in the course syllabus.
Shared Responsibilities of Students and Faculty
  • Be well prepared for class
  • Arrive to class and exams on time and remain until class/lab is finished
  • While in class, engage only in activities that are related to that class
  • Communicate in a manner that conveys respect (in person and in e-mail)
  • Do not talk or text on cell phones
  • Do not use profanity
  • Dispose of trash appropriately

Students / Faculty
  • Attend and actively engage in class
  • Read assigned readings before class
  • Turn assignments in on time
  • Take exams at the scheduled dates and times
  • Do not behave in a manner that disrupts the classroom environment (e.g., loud noises)
  • Do not sleep, read the newspaper or consume other types of media while in class
  • Do not eat or use tobacco products
  • Do not lie, cheat, or plagiarize
  • Address the instructor as “Dr.” or “Professor” unless told otherwise
  • Communicate expectations clearly
  • Be available during office hours
  • Administer exams at scheduled dates and times
  • Communicate grading criteria clearly, and apply it fairly and uniformly to all students
  • Be respectful of students’ needs and rights, as communicated to faculty
  • Address disruptive behavior of students
  • Inform students when material is an area of opinion, belief, or refutable fact

Resources for Students with Disabilities / Accommodations are available for students with a disability that is documented and approved by the Disability Resource Center (756-1395, building 124, room 119, It is the student’s responsibility to make initial contact with the DRC and to notify the instructor during the first week of class of any accommodations needed for the course.
Guidelines for
E-mail Communication / E-mail is an official Cal Poly means of communication to students, and is frequently used among Cal Poly students, faculty and staff. The e-mail guidelines listed below are intended to foster efficient communication and should be followed even when sent from a hand-held device.
E-mail Guidelines
  • Include a descriptive and detailed subject line
  • Use an appropriate salutation and address the recipient appropriately (when in doubt, it is better to be more formal than less formal)
  • Capitalize appropriately, use spell check, and don’t use acronyms or short-cuts (like one might use in a text message)
  • Proofread so that there are no typos or “thinkos” (errors in logic or expression)
  • In closing your e-mail, include your name and your Cal Poly username if you send e-mails from your non-Cal Poly e-mail address (e.g., gmail, yahoo, aol)
Additional tips to make e-mail correspondence as efficient as possible:
  • Send your e-mail at least 48 hours before you expect a reply
  • Be specific about the action or information you are requesting
  • If an e-mail asks for a response, provide a response (for example, if an e-mail asks if you will attend a review session, and you do not intend to go, indicate that in a response. Not responding does not mean you do not intend to go)
  • Do not write and send an e-mail when you are angry (doing so will rarely result in the outcome you desire)

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