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Modules

Modules

ACE2062 : Soils - Mapping and Managing properties and processes

Semesters
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0

Aims

The overall aim of the Module is to present the principles of soil science within the context of management for agricultural systems and the delivery of ecosystem functions. The Module will provide practical training in soil survey, classification and mapping and the measurement of key soil properties in the laboratory thereby enabling students to critically assess approaches to practical soil management. Students will gain a foundation in the basics of soil science and apply this within practical case studies.

Outline Of Syllabus

Topics are introduced in the lecture programme (21 lectures),
•       Why soil matters; soil quality as integration of soil physical, chemical and biological properties
•       Factors driving land use patterns – links between land quality, soil, productivity and environmental impacts
•       Soil texture, OM and structure
•       Soil forming factors – spatial variability of soil, soil profile and classification (E&W)
•       Soil acidity – managing and maintaining pH
•       Soil nutrient cycles (C, K, N, P), factors affecting nutrient availability in soils, management of nutrients in agricultural systems,environmental implications of human intervention in nutrient cycles, environmental regulations
•       Factors affecting soil water balance
•       Managing soils in practice – tillage systems
•       Managing soils in practice – integrated approaches to manage soil health

This will be supported through field and laboratory classes, where a systems-approach to soils and soil forming processes is taken. Practical aspects of soil survey techniques are covered in more detail in two practical classes and two field classes in Semester 2 leading to production of a soil map and accompanying professional soil survey report. This allows application and consolidation of theoretical knowledge and practical skills gained from earlier parts of the module.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion110:0010:00Preparation for report from fieldwork mapping exercise (2000 words). N.b. Partly in practical
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion27:3015:00Preparation for lab report on practical x2
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion15:005:00Preparation for group oral seminar presentation
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture211:0021:00Lecture programme largely in Semester 1
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion113:3013:30Revision and completion of exam
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion110:0010:00Preparation for individual seminar report (500 words)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical73:0021:00Soil practical classes
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching100:305:00Semester 2 Group Seminars. 15 min oral presentation followed by 15 min discussion by the class
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork38:0024:00Time allocated excludes travel to field sites.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study148:3048:30Research and reading beyond the taught material on module topics
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study127:0027:00lecture follow-up, including assigned reading
Total200:00
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures introduce key knowledge and appropriate reading.
Practicals introduce techniques in soil description and analysis in the field and laboratory and soil physical and chemical laboratory methods; introduce techniques of soil survey; and consolidate learning from lectures by problem solving. They also develop laboratory skills.
Practical soil management skills such as fertiliser recommendation and irrigation scheduling will be developed through practicals and their assessment.

Student-led seminars allow students to explore and illustrate the significance of fundamental processes and their link to ecosystem services by reference to topical issues.
Fieldwork serves to integrate the module learning outcomes by providing the opportunity to observe, handle and sample soils from a defined ecosystem(s) and to complete a soil survey exercise leading to a soil map and professional report.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Exams
Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination901A30Short answer questions followed by one essay type questions from a choice of three
Oral Presentation152M10Group seminar presentation (15 minutes) on soil processes and environmental/ecological issues
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Practical/lab report1M25Management recommendations reports (2) from practical classes; each < 1000 words
Report2M5Seminar report summarising research and literature for another group oral seminar presentation (500 words max)
Report2M30Group soil map with individual survey report produced after field-based soil mapping exercise. 2000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The examination tests the assimilation of a broad body of knowledge and understanding.

The reflective practical reports tests application of soil information to guide management in practice.

The seminar report and oral presentation tests the ability to research a body of information about soil processes and environmental/ecological issues in a critical way, using library and skills to present a reasoned argument.

The individual report from the fieldwork soil mapping exercise is required to be completed as a consultancy style report to a landowner and provides tests of the students ability to plan and carry out a field survey of soils; to report findings concisely and accurately; and to interpret soil distribution in relation to the environment and assess practical implications for land use potential and/or ecosystem management.

Reading Lists

Timetable