The aim of the course is the knowledge of the characteristics of the soil and its principal functions. The soils will be studied for their agronomic characteristics and for how much it concerns their vulnerability in relationship to different uses.Soil genesis, processes and dynamics of soil formation in relation with the landscape; interpretation of main soil characters connected with soil environmental functions and main international classification rules; world soil distribution, genesis of soil maps, and evaluation of soil capability.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course the student will to: - Know chemical, physical and biological soil characteristics, and their relationships. - Know how to carry out laboratory analyses of the most important properties of agricultural soils. - Properly use descriptive, analytical and cartographic data about soils, and their relationships with vegetation, lithology and geomorphic dynamics in the rural or natural environment they are generated from.
Lesson period: year
(In case of multiple editions, please check the period, as it may vary)
Basic knowledge of inorganic chemistry and organic chemistry
Assessment methods and Criteria
Soil Chemistry: 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. Geopedology: oral discussion on course topics.
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.
Lectures and laboratory exercises
Principles of Soil Chemistry, CRC Press; Author: Kim H.. The book is available at the library of the faculty. Slides on ARIEL
1 - Soil as interface between biosphere, atmosphere and lithosphere: definitions of soil; soil constituents. 2 - The pedological profile and its differentiation into horizons: characteristics of the different types of horizon and their nomenclature; the description of the profile on the soil. 3 - Pedogenesis, processes and factors: general soil evolution processes; the fundamental processes of pedogenesis; soil evolution factors and Jenny's equation; the time factor and paleo-soils. 4 - The classification of soils: the genetic classifications and the French ecological classification of Duchaufour; hierarchical classifications and Soil Taxonomy; the referential classifications, FAO-Unesco, IRB, WRB. 5 - Soils in the environmental context: soils and geomorphology; relationships between soil and landscape; pedological survey and cartography; the evaluation of lands, capacity of use and attitude of the territory.
Frontal lessons + classroom exercises for the cartography part.
CASALICCHIO G. (2006). Geopedologia con elementi di geoarcheologia. Pitagora Editrice, Bologna. - DAZZI C. (2013). Fondamenti di pedologia. Le Penseur, Brienza (PZ). - GIORDANO A. (1999). Pedologia. UTET, Torino. - CREMASCHI M. & RODOLFI G. (1991). Il Suolo. La Nuova Italia Scientifica, Roma. - SANESI G. (2000). Elementi di Pedologia. Calderini Edagricole, Bologna. - DUCHAUFOUR P. (1995). Pédologie: Sol, Végétation, Environnement. Abregés (IV Édition). Masson, Paris. - LEGROS J.P. (2007). Les Grands Sols du Monde. Presses Polytechniques et Universitaires Romandes, Lausanne. - SCHAETZL R. & ANDERSON S. (2005). Soils: Genesis and Geomorphology. Cambridge University Press. - BRADY N.C. & WEIL R.R. (1999). The Nature and Properties of Soils (XII Edition). Prentice Hall, New Jersey.