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ACE2063 : Managing Soils in Agricultural Systems

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Julia Cooper
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


The overall aim of the Module is to present the principles of soil management for agricultural systems and thereby enabling students to critically assess approaches to practical soil management in cropping and grassland systems. Student 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,
•       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
•       Plant response to nutrients (K, N, P), response curves – factors affecting nutrient availability in soils
•       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 an system-approach to soils and soil forming processes is taken.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture171:0017:00Lectures
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion27:3015:00Preparation of assessed individual reports to interpret data collated in practicals
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion114:3014:30Revision for and completion of examination
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical14:004:00Practical class on-farm
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical43:0012:00Practical sessions
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study120:3020:30Reading to extend understanding and application beyond the course materials
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study171:0017:00Consolidation and follow up of lecture material
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures introduce key knowledge and appropriate reading.
Field work introduces techniques in description of soil properties and assessment of soil quality and and practicals consolidate learning from lectures by problem solving. Practical soil management skills such as fertiliser recommendation and irrigation scheduling will be developed through practicals and their assessment.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination901A50Mixture of question types including one essay type question
Exam Pairings
Module Code Module Title Semester Comment
ACE2074Soils in Terrestrial Ecosystems1N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Practical/lab report1M25Nutrient management planning report. Total word count
Computer assessment1M25Online BB assessment based on practical classes in soil biology, soil chemistry and irrigation
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The examination tests the assimilation of a broad body of knowledge and understanding (LOs 1-2).

The reflective practical reports test application of soil information to guide management in practice (LOs 3-5).

Reading Lists