Module Identifier BS11210  
Academic Year 2001/2002  
Co-ordinator Dr John Scullion  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Dr Malcolm Leitch  
Pre-Requisite Normally A or AS Biology or its equivalent.  
Course delivery Lecture   20 Hours  
  Practical   9 Hours (3 x 3 hours)  
  Field Work   3 Hours 1 x 3 hours  
Assessment Continuous assessment   Continuous assessment of practicals. To be handed in 2 weeks after the last practical   30%  
  Exam   2 Hours Semester written examination.   70%  
  Resit assessment   2 Hours One 2 hour written examination; re-submission of failed course work.   100%  

Aims and objectives

To introduce the main components of soils. to show how variations in these compnents influence soil properties and management.


This module describes soil properties including nutrient availability and relates these concepts to practical soil management. There is an emphasis on agricultural land use with consideration of both production and environmental issues. However, other land uses are considered as appropriate.

The lecture course opens with a consideration of soil physical and chemical processes. It then goes on to describe their implications for soil management and plant growth.

Soil constituents and physical properties covered include particle size distribution; organisation of soil particles and creation of pore space; variations in soil texture, structure and their effects on aeration/water supply; processes leading to the development of structure in soils; soil water content, conductivity and moisture potentials; temperature and heat fluxes in soils. The soil nutrient and fertility section covers soil acidity and liming; major nutrient cycles, the assessment of nutrient availability; principles of using manures and fertilisers; nutrient losses and their environmental impact.

Soil management practices described include drainage problems and their alleviation; irrigation need and practice; cultivation and its effect on soils; compaction, erosion and soil degradation problems.

The course finishes with a consideration of soil-climate interactions as they affect agricultural systems. Included in this section is a discussion of classification systems for various land use and pollution control purposes.

Practical classes provide experience across the themes covered in lectures. Field visits demonstrate soil variation and its implications for land use/vegetation. Laboratory sessions include assessments of basic soil constituents (texture, moisture, organic matter and pH) for samples taken from the field visit sites. Computer workshops use an N-cycle model to provide data on flows of nitrogen for different agricultural management and soils.

Learning outcomes

On completing the module students should

Reading Lists

** Reference Text
Rudeforth, C.C. et al. (1984) Soils and their use in Wales. Soil survey of England & Wales
MAFF Technical Bulletin 29. Soil physical conditions and crop production. MAFF Technical Bulletin 29
Wild, A.. (1988) Russells soil conditions and plant growth. 11th. Longmans
Practical examples. Soil use and management.
Subject reviews. Advances in soil science.
Bradey, N.C. & Weil, R.R.. (1996) The nature and properties of soils. 11th. Macmillan, New York
Batey, T.. (1988) Soil husbandry; a practical guide to the use and managment of soils. Soil & Land consultants, Aberdeen
Castle, D.A., McCunnal, J.A. & Tring, T.. (1984) Field drainage principles and practice. Batsford Academic
Cresser, M., Killham, K. & Edwards, T.. (1993) Soil chemistry and its applications.. Cambridge University Press