Soil sciences and plant physiology

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
AGR/13 AGR/14
Learning objectives
The course aims to provide:
- knowledge on soil properties and its main functions. The soils will be studied for their agronomic characteristics and for their vulnerability in relationship to different uses.
- knowledge on 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.
- knowledge on biochemical and physiological processes occurring in plants. A main objective will be the study the effects of environmental conditions on these processes. A particular attention will be on crops.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course the student should have acquired:
- knowledge on chemical, physical and biological characteristics of the soil.
- ability in laboratory activity for the determination of the main soil properties.
- capacity to interpret soil chemical, physical, descriptive and cartographic data in relation to vegetation, lithology and geomorphic dynamics in the rural or natural environment.
- knowledge on biochemical and physiological processes of plants. These notions will establish a basis for further studies as well as for research activity.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
The lessons will be delivered using the Microsoft Teams platform, partly synchronous and partly asynchronous. Compatibly with the laws and regulations, some face-to-face meetings will be held aimed at discussing program topics. The laboratory exercises of soil chemistry will take place in small groups. All detailed information will be posted on the Ariel website which is recommended to be consulted frequently. The practical exercises of soil mapping will take place will be delivered using the Microsoft Teams platform, synchronous with recording, also in this case one face-to-face meeting will be held aimed at discussing program topics.
The exams will be conducted remotely on the Microsoft Teams platform.
All detailed information will be posted on the Ariel website which is recommended to be consulted frequently.
Prerequisites for admission
Basic knowledge of inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry and botany.
Assessment methods and Criteria
Soil chemistry
The exam will be held remotely in oral form using the Microsoft Teams platform. 3 questions will be submitted: on the basis of the data provided, the student will have to illustrate the method suitable for formulating a fertilization or amendment plan + 2 open questions. A maximum score of 10 points will be applied to each question. The vote is expressed out of thirty

The exam will be held remotely in oral form using the Microsoft Teams platform, with questions relating to the topics of the lectures, at the end of which a mark expressed out of thirty will be recorded. Honors will be given when the level of preparation is more than excellent. The final evaluation will consider the acquired knowledge (60%) and the ability to organize and illustrate the arguments (30%) and the expository skills (10%).

Agricultural biochemistry and physiology of crop plants
The oral examination is structured in 5 open questions on different subjects of the course and lasts 30 minutes. Each question is evaluated with a score from 0/30 to 6/30. The overall score is given by the sum of each application ones. For the evaluation are considered different aspects, such as the accuracy of the response, the terminology used to define the process and the level of depth of the answer.

The final mark is calculated by using the weighted average, that is depending from the number of credits, of the votes obtained in the single modules.
Chimica del suolo
Course syllabus
Soil definition: the soil as an open system.
The main soil functions: productive function, protective function, naturalistic function.
The soil as a three-phase system: solid, liquid and gas phase.
Minerals and rocks: non-silicate minerals, classification and structure of silicate minerals. Processes of mineral alteration. -Alteration of phyllosilicates: clays. Structure of clays: 1: 1 clays, 2: 1 clays, heterovalent isomorphic substitutions.
The soil physical properties: real and apparent texture, structure, density and porosity.
Organic matter: non-humic component and humic component, accumulation and consumption processes in relation to soil fertility. Role in soil fertility.
Soil chemical properties: adsorption and exchange: main theories; the characteristics and composition of the soil exchange complex, degree of basic saturation, specific and non-specific cationic and anionic adsorption.
The soil / water ratios.
Soil / air relationships: soil as a respiratory system.
Red-ox potential of the soil.
pH current and potential. Acid, saline, sodium, submerged soils. Soils with abnormal pH and their correction. Biogeochemical cycles: nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur and other meso and micro elements in relation to availability in the soil.
Fertilizers, soil improvers and corrective agents.
Fertilization plans.
Soil analysis with laboratory exercises.
Teaching methods
Basic knowledge of inorganic chemistry and organic chemistry.
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
Lectures + classroom exercises for the cartography part.
Teaching Resources
Course lecture notes and bibliography indicated.
Biochimica agraria e fisiologia delle piante coltivate
Course syllabus
Credit I: Principles of bioenergetics and thermodynamics Kinetics of enzymatic catalysis. Michaelis-Menten's equation. Inhibition and regulation of enzyme-catalyzed reactions.

Credit II: Glycolysis and fermentation. Energy yield of glycolysis. The TCA cycle. Electron flux and oxidative phosphorylation. Energy yield of respiration. The pentose-P pathway.

Credit III: Photosynthetic pigments. Photosystems, light-harvesting complexes, reaction centers. The Z scheme. Photophosphorylation. C3 and C4 cycles, CAM metabolism. Photorespiration. Biosynthesis and degradation of starch and polysaccharides. Ecophysiology of photosynthesis.

Credit IV: The water potential. Plasmolysis, cell turgor. Water absorption by roots: the apoplastic and symplastic pathways. Transpiration. The lift of the xylem sap in the xylem. Loss of water through the stomata, regulation of stomata opening.

Credit V: Transport in plant cells. Chemical and electrochemical potentials. Diffusion, active and passive transport. The Nernst's equation. Carriers and ion channels. Role of the PM H+-ATPase in secondary active transport. Translocation in the phloem. Plant mineral nutrition.

Credit VI: The responses to light: phytochrome and blue-light photoreceptors. Plant growth regulators. Description of a few physiological effects of plant growth regulators. The responses to abiotic stresses.
Teaching methods
Teaching Resources
- Taiz L., Zeiger E. Moller I.M. Plant Physiology and Development, Sixth Edition. ISBN-13: 978 1605353531
Biochimica agraria e fisiologia delle piante coltivate
AGR/13 - AGRICULTURAL CHEMISTRY - University credits: 6
Lessons: 48 hours
Professor: Espen Luca
Chimica del suolo
AGR/13 - AGRICULTURAL CHEMISTRY - University credits: 6
Laboratories: 16 hours
Lessons: 40 hours
Professor: Tambone Fulvia
AGR/14 - PEDOLOGY - University credits: 4
Practicals: 16 hours
Lessons: 24 hours
Professor: Trombino Luca
appointment by e-mail
DiSAA - soil chemistry section - I Floor
On appointment
Mangiagalli 34, 2nd floor, room 77