At the conclusion of this course, the student should be able to:
1. Collect, prepare, and test a representative soil sample for a variety of crop and forest environments and landscape situations.
2. Compare the functions of the four physical components of soil: air, water, mineral solids, organic matter.
3. Compare USDA Web 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. Distinguish the attributes of the typical horizons within a soil profile.
6. Relate the importance of soil texture to water holding capacity, aeration, permeability to plant roots, and drainage characteristics of soils.
7. Analyze soil texture using "feel" method and classify soils by percent sand, silt and clay content using the soil textural triangle.
8. Explain the natural processes that result in the formation of soil aggregates and recommend practices that enhance or maintain good soil structure.
9. Summarize the cation exchange process in relation to plant nutrient availability.
10. Describe the sources of soil acidity.
11. Describe harmful effects of pH imbalances and recommend materials and methods for managing soil pH.
12. Categorize the major groups of soil microflora and microfauna and explain benefits supported by the soil food web.
13. Explain the beneficial significance of nitrogen-fixing bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi.
14. Explain mineralization and immobilization of nutrients.
15. Describe the role of soils in the global carbon cycle and select management practices that support carbon farming.
16. List the factors that influence decomposition and describe the process of decomposition of organic matter.
17. Analyze the nutrient content of synthetic and organic fertilizer materials and predict suitability and effectiveness of fertilizers for a variety of crops.
18. Define accelerated erosion by wind and water and describe control methods.
I. Soils and Society
A. Ecosystem services supported by soils.
B. Material composition of a healthy soil.
C. Soil health
II. Soil Profiles - Six Master Horizons
III. Soil Formation
A. 3 Types of Rock
B. Types of Weathering
C. Factors of soil formation
D. Parent material influence on soil formation
E. Climate influence on soil formation
F. Topography influence on soil formation
G. Organisms influence on soil formation
H. Time influence on soil formation
I. Soil formation processes
IV. Soil Physical Properties
A. Soil color
1. Soil processes that influence color
2. Munsell soil color system
B. Soil Texture
1. Size of primary soil particles
2. Influence of texture on soil physical and chemical properties
C. Soil Structure
1. Aggregate hierarchy
2. Chemical and physical processes involved in aggregation of soil
3. Biological processes involved in aggregation of soil
4. Management of soil tilth
D. Bulk density and compaction
V. Soil Classification
A. Soil taxonomy
B. Properties used to classify soils
C. Diagnostic horizons
D. Soil orders: characteristics and geography
E. Soil series: definition and Official Series Description (OSD)
F. Soil survey
G. Digital soil mapping
H. Web soil survey
VI. Soil Water Dynamics
A. Structure of water molecule
B. Cohesion and adhesion
C. Water potential
D. Soil water availability and status
1. Field Capacity
2. Permanent Wilting Point (PWP)
3. Available water capacity
VII. Soil and the Hydrologic Cycle
A. Hydrologic cycle
C. Factors influencing water infiltration and runoff in soils
D. Saturated hydraulic conductivity
E. Septic systems
F. Subsurface drainage methods
VIII. Soil Colloids
A. Properties of colloids
B. Structure of clay molecules
C. Surface charge of clays
D. 1:1 and 2:1 clays
E. Cation exchange capacity
IX. Soil Acidity and Alkalinity
A. pH scale
B. Processes that contribute to soil acidity
C. Processes that contribute to soil alkalinity
D. Pools of soil acidity
E. Buffering capacity
F. Management of acidity with lime
G. Salinization of dryland soils
X. Nutrient Cycles and Soil Fertility
A. Essential plant nutrients
B. Nitrogen cycle
C. Nitrification and denitrification
D. Management of soil nitrogen
E. Biological Nitrogen fixation
F. Haber Bosch process
G. Phosphorous cycle
H. Phosphorous fixation in soils
I. Phosphorous management
J. Soil fungi and Phosphorous
K. Potassium cycle
L. Potassium management
XI. Nutrient Management
A. Nutrient management plan
B. Ecological problems associated with nitrogen and phosphorous
C. Tools for field nutrient monitoring
D. Diagnosing nutrient deficiencies in crop plants
E. Riparian buffers
XII. Soil Erosion and Conservation
A. Land degradation: extent and causes
B. Process of soil erosion by water
C. Types of soil erosion by water
D. Factors that influence rate of soil erosion by water
E. Process of soil erosion by wind
F. Management of soil cover by vegetation and crop resides
G. Soil conservation practices
XIII. Soil Organisms and Ecology
A. Quantities of soil organisms
B. Soil food web
C. Types of soil organisms and their ecological roles
D. Benefits to agriculture provided by soil food web
E. Effect of soil management practices on organisms
XIV. Soils and the Carbon Cycle
A. Global carbon cycle
B. Pools, fluxes, and residence time in carbon cycle
C. Role of soils in generating carbon emissions
D. Effect of cultivation on soil carbon
E. Factors affecting decomposition of plant residues
F. Types and pools of soil carbon
G. Carbon Farming
H. Potential of land management to offset greenhouse gas emissions
XV. Laboratory Topics
A. Scientific method applied to soils and agriculture
B. Collecting and processing soil samples from field for nutrient management
C. Calculating land area
D. Conversion of units
E. Web Soil Survey
F. Munsell soil color chart
G. Texture by "feel" method
H. Water infiltration with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) method
I. pH and liming of soil
J. Fertilizer grades and nutrient content
K. Calculating fertilizer application rates
L. Interpreting a laboratory soil nutrient test
M. Bulk density
N. Land evaluation
O. Visual soil assessment
P. Interpretation of soil property data under different land uses