Introduction to Soils
Fall Semester 2010
Kitty O’Neil Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Office: XXX Agriculture Science Building Phone 607 XXX XXXX
Class Meeting Times
Lecture Tuesday 9:10 – 10:30 in Ag Sci 100
Lab Thursday 9:10 – 10:30 in Ag Sci 101
AGPS 1103 is an introductory plant and soil science course covering the following topics:
Fundamental principles of soil science and the relationship of soil characteristics to plant growth and
productivity. Soil formation from parent materials; soil, physical, chemical and biological properties; soil life,
soil water, soil conservation; plant nutrition, lime and liming practices; and use of soil surveys for land use
This course includes lecture and complementary laboratory exercises to provide a broad understanding of
soils in preparation for subsequent success in Animal Science and Plant Science courses.
1. Brady, N.C. and R.R. Weil. 2004. Elements of the Nature and Properties of Soils. 2nd Edition. Pearson-
Prentice Hall publ.
2. Lab Manual
1. Know the basic terms and concepts used for the description, study, and management of soils.
2. Understand soil physical, chemical and biological properties and how these properties influence soil
3. Understand soil functions, relationship with soil properties and classification, and relationship to land
use and management for production of foods, fiber and fuels and also for environmental services and
4. Appreciate the role of soils and soil management as critical components of environmental systems and
improving environmental quality.
A. Introduction to soils, soil formation and soil taxonomy
B. Soil physical properties; soil color, texture, structure; density and pore space
- Lab 1 – introduction to soils, soil texture; Lab 2 – soil structure, bulk density, pore space
C. Behavior and characteristics of soil water; water potential, movement, availability and storage in soil,
- Lab 3 – soil water, water movement in soil
D. Soil aeration and gas exchange; thermal properties of soil, redox potential
- Lab 4 – soil mineral weathering
E. Soil colloids/clays, silicate and non-silicate clays, cation exchange
- Lab 5 – properties of soil colloids/clays
F. Soil acidity, pH, alkalinity, buffers, lime application
- Lab 6 – soil acidity, cation exchange capacity, lime application
G. Soil organic matter, humus, influence on soil properties, organic soils
- Lab 7 – soil organic matter
H. Soil biology and ecology; soil organisms, fungi, bacteria; abundance, biomass, activity
AGPS 1103 ▪ Fall 2010 ▪ Course Syllabus Page 1 of 2
- Lab 8 – soil biology
I. Behavior and cycling of macronutrients in soil – N, P, K and S; principles of soil fertility and nutrient
- Lab 9 – acid rain; Lab 10 – soil testing, calculations
J. Soil conservation; erosion and sediment control
- Lab 11 – soil erosion, conservation, RUSLE
K. Soil survey, GIS, wetland soils
- Lab 12 – soil survey project
Blackboard will be used regularly for announcements, distribution of course materials, supplemental
reading, exercises and posting of grades. You may also submit assignments electronically via Blackboard.
Grades will be based on the percentage of points earned on all exams, quizzes, assignments, and lab reports.
The following table is an approximate guide for how points will be accumulated:
Assignment No. Points Total
In class exercises Every lecture 12 5 points each 60
Mid-term Exams 1.5 hr 3 50 points each 150
Lab Reports Collaborative, 1 wk to complete 6 15 points each 90
Land Use Project Collaborative 1 50 points 50
Final Exam End of semester, cumulative 1 100 points 100
TOTAL (approximate) 450
The grading scale below, based on percentage of total points, will be strictly followed:
Percent Grade Percent Grade Percent Grade Percent Grade
91-100% 4.0 81-85% 3.0 71-75% 2.0 60-65% 1.0
86-90% 3.5 76-80% 2.5 66-70% 1.5 0-59% 0.0
Exams will be given during lecture class periods. In fairness to students who take exams as scheduled, a
valid and documented excuse is required to take a make-up exam at an unscheduled time. Exams and
assignments will be returned as quickly as possible. Answers will be discussed in class when the exam or
assignment is returned. If you need to discuss grading on an exam or test, before or after class is the best
time for this discussion.
All assignments have a non-negotiable due date that will be clearly stated when the work is assigned. Late
assignments may be submitted for a grade at the discretion of the instructor. Maximum grades for late
submissions will be reduced 10% for each day the assignment is late, up to 50% reduction for work that is 5+
The instructor will uphold the Academic Integrity Code, and the College policies on Academic Integrity.
Students should read and understand the code, particularly the definitions and examples of misconduct
under the ‘Student Responsibility’ section. Students engaging in any of these fraudulent practices will be
penalized and college procedures for reporting misconduct will be followed. If any of these responsibilities
are unclear, or if you are unsure how this applies to any course assignment, please ask.
Your questions and comments during lectures are always welcome and encouraged. Please participate
freely. In-class discussions are only discouraged when they distract from our course missions – I’ll take
responsibility for keeping our focus, so you can ask away. Also, please feel comfortable in approaching me
to discuss matters relating to your overall academic program, potential job opportunities, other schools,
reference letters, etc. My interest in your success extends beyond this course.
AGPS 1103 ▪ Fall 2010 ▪ Course Syllabus Page 2 of 2