SRJC Course Outlines

4/16/2024 12:32:50 AMAGRI 60 Course Outline as of Fall 2004

Changed Course

Discipline and Nbr:  AGRI 60Title:  SOIL & PLANT NUTRITION  
Full Title:  Soil & Plant Nutrition
Last Reviewed:1/28/2019

UnitsCourse Hours per Week Nbr of WeeksCourse Hours Total
Maximum3.00Lecture Scheduled2.0017.5 max.Lecture Scheduled35.00
Minimum3.00Lab Scheduled3.0017.5 min.Lab Scheduled52.50
 Contact DHR0 Contact DHR0
 Contact Total5.00 Contact Total87.50
 Non-contact DHR0 Non-contact DHR Total0

 Total Out of Class Hours:  70.00Total Student Learning Hours: 157.50 

Title 5 Category:  AA Degree Applicable
Grading:  Grade Only
Repeatability:  00 - Two Repeats if Grade was D, F, NC, or NP
Also Listed As: 
Formerly:  AG 53

Catalog Description:
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Presents the study of soil as a growth medium for plants and a valuable natural resource.  Physical, chemical and biological properties of soil; soil-water relationships; organisms, organic matter decomposition and soil ecosystem principles; soil reaction, cation exchange and essential nutrients; synthetic and organic fertilizers; soil conservation and land management principles.  Students perform laboratory analyses on their own soil samples.  Math calculations include land areas, fertilizer costs, formulations and application rates, percentages, and unit conversions; field trips and soil survey report required.


Recommended Preparation:
Eligibility for ENGL 100 or ESL 100 and completion of AG 78.

Limits on Enrollment:

Schedule of Classes Information
Description: Untitled document
Presents the study of soil as a growth medium for plants and a valuable natural resource. Students perform laboratory analyses on their own soil samples. Field trips and soil survey report required.
(Grade Only)

Recommended:Eligibility for ENGL 100 or ESL 100 and completion of AG 78.
Limits on Enrollment:
Transfer Credit:CSU;
Repeatability:00 - Two Repeats if Grade was D, F, NC, or NP


Associate Degree:Effective:Fall 2019
Natural Sciences
CSU GE:Transfer Area Effective:Inactive:
 B1Physical ScienceFall 2019
 B3Laboratory Activity  
IGETC:Transfer Area Effective:Inactive:
CSU Transfer:TransferableEffective:Fall 1981Inactive:
UC Transfer:Effective:Inactive:
 CID Descriptor: AG - PS 128L Introduction to Soil Science SRJC Equivalent Course(s): AGRI60

Certificate/Major Applicable: Certificate Applicable Course


Outcomes and Objectives:
At the conclusion of this course, the student should be able to:
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Upon successful completion of this course the student will be able to:
1. Collect, prepare, and test a representative soil sample for a variety
of crop and forest environments and landscape situations.
2. Measure parcels using a variety of common units of distance measurement
and calculate land areas in acres and hectares.
3. Compare USDA Soil Survey maps and data with actual soil conditions
encountered in field observations.
4. Define and cite examples of the five soil-forming factors: parent
material, climate, topography, living organisms and time.
5. Identify examples of the three classes of soil-forming rocks: igneous,
sedimentary and metamorphic.
6. Evaluate soil productivity based on Land Capability Classification and
Storie Index ratings.
7. Compare the functions of the four physical components of soil: air,
water, mineral solids, organic matter.
7. Distinguish the attributes of the typical horizons within a soil
9. Relate water holding capacity, aeration, permeability to plant roots,
and drainage characteristics to sand, silt and clay content of soils.
10. Analyze soil texture using "feel" method and classify soils by percent
sand, silt and clay content using the soil textural triangle.
11. Explain the natural processes that result in the cementing of sand,
silt and clay particles into secondary aggregates and recommend practices
that enhance or maintain good soil structure.
12. Relate soil moisture tension terminology to field and nursery
container soil conditions.
13. Predict water movement in soils with non-uniform textural and
structural characteristics.
14. Summarize the cation exchange process in relation to plant nutrient
15. Describe how soils become acidic naturally and through soil management
16. Describe harmful effects of pH imbalances and recommend materials and
methods for adjusting soil pH.
17. Categorize the major groups of soil microflora and microfauna in the
soil ecosystem.
18. Explain the beneficial significance of nitrogen-fixing bacteria and
mycorrhizal fungi.
19. Select organic amendments according to carbon:nitrogen ratio
20. Select materials and recommend management practices for rapid
21. Compare and contrast artificial soil media such as peat moss, perlite,
vermiculite, scoria, and ground fir bark for nursery container culture.
22. List and describe plant uses and deficiency symptoms of the essential
mineral nutrients.
23. Interpret a fertilizer label and predict crop response to the use of a
nitrogen fertilizer.
24. Analyze the attributes of synthetic and organic fertilizer materials.
25. Recommend fertilizer application methods appropriate for various crop
and landscape scenarios.
26. Evaluate various cover crops for perennial and annual cropping
27. Define accelerated erosion by wind and water and describe control
28. Explain how the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and
Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs) assist landowners in
implementing soil conservation practices.

Topics and Scope
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I.  Soil formation
       A. Classes of common soil-forming rocks
           1. Igneous
           2. Sedimentary
           3. Metamorphic
       B. The 5 soil-forming factors
           1. Parent material
           2. Living organisms
           3. Climate
           4. Topography
           5. Time
       C. Weathering processes
           1. Physical
           2. Chemical
           3. Biological
       D. Basic soil components: 50% solid particles, 50% pore space
           1. Mineral particles 45%
           2. Organic matter (O.M.) particles 5%
           3. Air +/- 25%
           4. Water +/- 25%
       E. Soil profile development and typical horizons
           1. O, A, B, C, R horizons
           2. Temperate and arid region soil profiles
           3. Profiles in various landforms and environments
II. Soil physical properties
       A. Texture
           1. Sand, silt and clay particles as primary soil
               a. Proportional sizes, surface area haracteristics
               b. Aeration, drainage, water holding capacity
                  characteristics of the primary soil separates
           2. Textural classification system and soil textural
       B. Structure
           1. Types of aggregates and aggregate formation
               a. Crumb, granular
               b. Blocky, angular
               c. Prismatic, columnar
               d. Platy
           2. Beneficial effects of good soil structure
               a. Gas exchange, aeration
               b. Heat transfer, soil warming
               c. Permeability to roots and germinating seedlings
               d. Water infiltration and percolation
           3. Maintaining and improving soil structure
               a. Addition of various forms of O.M.
               b. Cover crops
           4. Problems of compaction and subsurface impermeable
           5. Role of organic matter in aggregate formation
           6. Soil tilth and proper tillage practices
           7. Mulches
       C. Color
           1. Abundance of certain minerals
           2. Organic matter content
           3. Seasonal waterlogging and gleying
       D. Temperature
           1. Moderation effects of soil on air temperature
           2. Daily and seasonal variation
           3. Moist vs. dry soil effects on temperature
           4. Effects of aspect (north vs. south facing slope)
           5. Effects on seed germination and root growth
           6. Mulched or vegetated cover vs. bare soil
       E. Bulk density and porosity
           1. Effects on aeration and drainage, permeability to
           2. Inverse relationship of BD and porosity
           3. Desirable BD values and factors affecting BD
III.    Soil-Water relations and water holding capacity (WHC)
       A. Soil moisture tension conditions
           1. Saturation
           2. Field capacity
           3. Permanent wilting point (or wilting point)
           4. Available vs. unavailable water
       B. Forces affecting water movement in soil
           1. Properties of the water molecule
               a. Adhesion
               b. Cohesion
           2. Saturated flow and gravitational force
           3. Unsaturated flow and capillary forces
               a. Movement from moist to dry soil
               b. Thickness of water films on soil particles
           4. Osmotic (dissolved salts) potential differences
       C. Soil physical conditions affecting water movement and WHC
           1. Relationship of particle size and total surface area
                    to water holding capacity
           2. Movement across layers of non-uniform
           3. Depth and consistency of profile and horizons
           4. Perched water tables in soil profile and in growing
              containers; shallow vs. deep containers
           5. Texture and structure influences on infiltration,
       D. Moisture-sensing devices
           1. Gypsum block
           2. Tensiometer
           3. Neutron probe
           4. Other conductivity meters and commercial products
IV. Soil chemical and colloidal properties
       A. Structure and properties of clay colloids
       B. Humus and organic colloids
       C. Negative charges of clay and humus micelles
       D. Principle soil cations and anions
       E. Cations and significance of cation exchange
           1. Adsorption of nutrient cations on micelles
           2. Leaching potential of mineral anions
           3. Cation exchange capacity related to soil texture and
                    organic matter content
           4. Role of cation exchange in soil fertility
V.  Soil acidity
       A. Acidity, alkalinity, pH and related terms pH scale
           1. Exponential relationship of pH values
           2. Desirable pH values for plant growth
           3. Effects of undesirable pH on plant growth and soil
       B. Buffering and buffering capacity of various soils
       C. Adjusting pH
1. Benefits of liming acid soils, various liming
           2. Acidifying alkaline soils
VI. Soil biology and ecology
       A. Principles of diversity and stability of soil organism
       B. General groupings of macro- and micro-organisms
           1. Macro- and micro-fauna
           2. Macro- and micro-flora
       C. Classification of organisms by feeding habits and
              beneficial or harmful effects on plants
           3. Autotrophs
           4. Heterotrophs
           5. Herbivores
           6. Carnivores
           7. Detritivores
           8. Parasites
       D. Symbiotic organisms
           1. Rhizobium bacteria and nitrogen fixation on legume
           2. Mycorrhizal fungi on roots of most plants
       E. Rhizosphere characteristics
VII.    Organic matter addition and decomposition
       A. Types of organic soil amendments
       B. Value of cover crops in O.M. management
       C. Common groups of aerobic decomposing organisms beneficial
            to plants
       D. Carbon:Nitrogen ratio of organisms and organic matter
           1. Effects of C:N ratio on decompositon rate of O.M.
           2. Immobilization of N by decomposing microbes
       E. Composting methods overview
           1. Rapid composting or hot composting
           2. Pit composting or other cold composting methods
           3. Worm composting
       F. Composting fundamentals
           1. Green, moist nitrogen materials
           2. Brown, dry carbon materials
           3. Temperature indications related to decomposition rate
               1. Ambient
               2. Mesophilic zone
               3. Thermophilic zone
           4. Moisture levels within 40%-60% for aerobic organisms
           5. Aeration through regular turning and mixing of
VIII.   Essential mineral nutrients
       A. Primary nutrients and their functions and deficiency
           1. Nitrogen cycle
           2. Available forms of nitrogen for plant uptake
       B. Secondary nutrients
       C. Micronutrients
IX. Fertilizers
       A. The need for and benefits of proper fertilizer use
       B. Common synthetic and organic fertilizer materials
       C. Speed of availabilty of nutrients in various materials
       D. Effects on pH
       E. Fertilzer label
       F. Complete fertilizers
       G. Balanced fertilizers
       H. Starter fertilizers
       I. Calculating nutrient content, application rates and cost
              per pound of selected nutrients in fertilizers
       J. Methods of application
       K. Environmental concerns related to fertilizer use
X.  Soil conservation, management and erosion control
       A. Comparison of conventional tillage systems and conservation
          tillage effects on soil erosion
       B. Land Capability Classes
       C. Storie Index
       D. Erosion by wind
       F. Erosion by water
           1. Slope angle and length
           2. Soil texture and structure
           3. Surface cover
           4. Volume and velocity of flow
       G. Erosion control methods
       H. Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and Resource
          Conservation Districts (RCDs)
       I. Global significance of soil erosion
XI. Laboratory tests, calculations and field activities
       A. Collection of representative soil samples

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1. Weekly laboratory procedures and associated homework questions.
2. In-class calculations and exercises.
3. Weekly text reading assignments.
4. Soil survey report.

Methods of Evaluation/Basis of Grade.
Writing: Assessment tools that demonstrate writing skill and/or require students to select, organize and explain ideas in writing.Writing
10 - 30%
Written homework
Problem solving: Assessment tools, other than exams, that demonstrate competence in computational or non-computational problem solving skills.Problem Solving
10 - 40%
Homework problems, Lab reports, Quizzes, Exams
Skill Demonstrations: All skill-based and physical demonstrations used for assessment purposes including skill performance exams.Skill Demonstrations
5 - 20%
Class performances
Exams: All forms of formal testing, other than skill performance exams.Exams
30 - 60%
Multiple choice, True/false, Matching items, Completion
Other: Includes any assessment tools that do not logically fit into the above categories.Other Category
10 - 30%
Lab participation.

Representative Textbooks and Materials:
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Brady, N., Weil, R. (2000). Elements of the Nature and Properties of
Soils, Prentice Hall, NY.
Brady, N., Weil, R. ( 2002). The Nature and Properties of Soils, 13th
ed., Prentice Hall, NY.
Kohnke, B. (1995). Soil Science Simplified, 4th Ed.
Miller, R., Gardner, D. (1998). Soils in Our Environment, 8th ed.,
Prentice Hall, NY.

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