Soils and Environmental Interactions

Module summary

Module code: ENVI1168
Level: 6
Credits: 15
School: Engineering and Science
Department: Natural Resources Institute
Module Coordinator(s): Peter Burt

Specification

Aims

• To show the role of soils and soil processes in ecosystem studies;
• To develop students’ knowledge of the importance of soils, soil studies and soil organisms;
• To show how soil development and dynamics are influenced by natural and anthropogenic environmental processes such as erosion, flooding, drought and climate;
• To demonstrate the skills needed to apply this knowledge to practical management of soils for sustainable use.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course a student will be able to:

1 Appreciate the integrated nature of soils and environments and apply a knowledge of the key elements involved in the formation of soils, assessing the relative roles played by each in various parts of the world.

2 Apply a knowledge of the diversity, distribution and functions of the major groups of soil biota in controlling soil formation and ecology;

3 Recognise the origins and importance of erosion and desertification in soils, evaluating the various the roles of environmental conditions in governing these, and apply approaches to combat them;

4 Appreciate the role of man in maintaining and enhancing soil fertility and structure through appropriate cropping systems and the effects of such interventions on soil biota, and apply this information in appropriate contexts.

Indicative content

Soil formation and classification: the principles of soil formation with particular reference to the role of environments and soil biota in these processes; a review of the principal systems of soil classification and their application in soil management; effects and control of erosion and desertification in soils: the importance of soil erosion and “desertification”, and approaches to their control; soil organisms and biological processes in soils: the distribution, diversity and ecology of soil micro-organisms and fauna and their interactions with other components of the ecosystem, decomposition processes and nutrient cycles as influenced by soil organisms; cropping systems and soil management: Practical options for maintaining and improving soil fertility and structure in cropping systems.

Teaching and learning activity

The course will be presented through a combination of formal lectures, case studies and a field visit.

Assessment

Methods of SUMMATIVE Assessment: Essay
Outcome(s) assessed by summative assessment : 3, 4
Grading Mode: Numeric
Weighting: 50%
Pass Mark: 40%
Word Length: Up to 2,000 words
Outline Details: Essay on an aspect of soil/environmental relationships.

Methods of SUMMATIVE Assessment: Examnination
Outcome(s) assessed by summative assessment: 1-4
Grading Mode: Numeric
Weighting: 50%
Pass Mark: 40%
Outline Details: 3 hour examination

Nature of FORMATIVE assessment supporting student learning:
Discussions of case studies, general lecture material and contemporary issues