Soil science

A.Y. 2019/2020
Overall hours
AGR/13 AGR/14
Learning objectives
The objectives are:
- to understand the basics of the physical structure of the soil, the main biochemical balances and the ecological role,
- to understand the basis of the processes involved in the formation of the different soil types and their interactions with the other environmental factors, such as natural vegetation and agricultural uses, climate, lithologic substrate, geomorphic properties; with particular reference to the natural and anthropic processes typical of the Alpine and pre-Alpine territorial context.
- soil description and sampling techniques will be learnt in the field during excursions in different mountain habitats;
- to know the basics of soil mapping and land evaluation will be treated as well, taking into account the soil degradation processes such as erosion.
Expected learning outcomes
The learning outcomes include:
- a general view of the soil functions in the ecosystem;
- acquire a systemic view of the ecological role of the soil and the use of the concepts of homeostasis and resilience,
- ability to read a standard soil analysis and formulate a judgment.
- capacity of interpreting the different soil types and their relationships with other environmental factors (geomorphology, geology, climate, vegetation and agriculture), their specific limitations and their sustainable use
To know how:
- formulate a fertilisation plan and plan soil modification interventions
- describe and sample a soil profile in the field, interpret laboratory-soil analyses, evaluate production capacities and the ecosystemic role of soils.
- Interpret a soil and land capability map
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
Prerequisites for admission
Basic knowledge of inorganic chemistry and organic chemistry
Assessment methods and Criteria
The written exam consists of 3 questions: Comment of a soil analysis and preparation of a fertilization plan + 2 open questions. A maximum score of 10 points will be applied to each question.
For pedology: written exam with multiple choice tests
Soil chemistry
Course syllabus
Definition of the soil: the soil as open system. The soil main functions: production function, protective,natural function. Soil as a three-phase system: solid, liquid and gaseous. Theoretical structure of a soilprofile. Minerals and rocks: mineral silicates, classification and structure of silicate minerals. Processes ofminerals alteration: disintegration and decay, action of water, wind, glaciers and biotic entities. Products ofalteration: clays. Structure of the clay: 1:1 clays, 2:1 clays, heterovalent isomorphous substitutions. Thephysical properties of the soil: real and apparent texture, structure, density and porosity. The organicmatter: humic and non humic component, processes of accumulation and consumption in relation to soilfertility. Action of the substance on the chemical, physical and biological properties of the soil. Chemicalproperties of the soil: adsorption and exchange: main theories, the characteristics and composition of theexchange complex of the soil, degree of base saturation, cation adsorption and anion specific andnon-specific, complex inner-sphere and outer-sphere. The soil-water relationships. The soil-air relations:soil as a "respiratory system". Red-ox potential of the soil. Chemical properties of soil: different pH values(in water and potential). Acid, basic, sodium, submerged soils. Soils with extreme pH: possible correction.Soil fertility. Nitrogen cycle. The phosphorus cycle. Sulfur cycle and other meso and micro elements inrelation to the availability in the soil. Fertilizers: mineral, organic, amendments and corrective.
Teaching methods
Teaching Resources
Principles of Soil Chemistry, CRC Press; Author: Kim H.. The book is available at the library of the faculty. Slides on ARIEL
Course syllabus
Structure and composition of the Earth and the Earth's crust. The main silicate and non-silicate minerals. Clay minerals. Tectonic principles. Geomorphological forms and processes in mountain and hilly areas. Classification and properties of igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks. The pedological profile: horizons, pedogenetic figures and bodies, campaign description cards, laboratory-soil analytical cards. Fundamental features of Soil Taxonomy. Basic and applied cartography of the soils of Lombardy.
Teaching methods
Teaching Resources
Course lecture notes and bibliography indicated.
AGR/14 - PEDOLOGY - University credits: 5
Practicals: 16 hours
Lessons: 32 hours
Soil chemistry
AGR/13 - AGRICULTURAL CHEMISTRY - University credits: 5
Lessons: 40 hours
Professor: Tambone Fulvia
Educational website(s)
appointment by e-mail
DiSAA - soil chemistry section - I Floor