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Module Code - Title:


Year Last Offered:


Hours Per Week:













Grading Type:


Prerequisite Modules:

Rationale and Purpose of the Module:

The purpose of the module is to educate students about the nature, properties and functions of soils with particular reference to soils in Ireland.


1. Introduction: 2. Physical properties of soil: Mineral matter, organic matter, water and air in soil, structure, structural stability and measurement of these, soil water and water movement, soil air, soil temperature. 3. Soil chemistry: Soil colloids, cation exchange, soil pH 4. Soils and plant nutrition: Nutrient elements, soil testing, availability of elements, soil pH and liming, calcium, magnesium , sulphur and trace elements 5. Soil biology: Soil organisms, soil organic matter, C:N ratio 6. Soil genesis and classification (these 5 lectures not taken by Equine Science, who transfer to crop and grassland instead for grassland): Factors in soil formation, soil formation in Ireland, soil profiles and horizons, classification and mapping of Irish soils, Great soil groups, series and types, Great soil groups found in Ireland, County soil maps, soils and land use. Functions of compost, compost materials and growth substrates, making an organic compost. Nutrient requirements and deficiencies in horticultural plants & use of artificial and organic fertilisers. Laboratory: Preparing a compost for seeds and a blocking compost Preparing a compost for actively growing plants Preparing cuttings composts

Learning Outcomes:

Cognitive (Knowledge, Understanding, Application, Analysis, Evaluation, Synthesis)

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to: Physical properties of soils List the components of soil. Describe the physical properties of soils: structure and movement of water, air, and temperature. Identify soil textural classes, soil types, and soil structure and evaluate their importance in relation to the availability of soil air and water to plant roots. Recognize the nature and properties of colloidal soil properties. Soil Chemistry Illustrate and discuss the nature and functions of soil colloids in relation to the availability of nutrients to plant roots. Explain the importance of clay minerals in soils. Describe the process of cation exchange in soils. Discuss the importance of soil pH in nutrient availability and soil processes. Soils and plant nutrition Outline the reasons for soil testing. Recognise how to take an accurate soil sample and interpret the results. List the macro-nutrient and micronutrient elements of soils. Define sources of nutrients in soils. Outline the nitrogen content in soil and discuss its cycle. Discuss the availability of the fertilizer elements in soil. Describe liming and it practice and discuss the benefits and disadvantages of liming Soil Biology Discuss the composition of organic matter and its importance in soils. Describe the main classes of organisms in soil and their functional importance. Soil genesis and classification Explain how soil is formed Define and explain the importance of soil horizons. Describe how soils are classified according to soil profiles. Identify and describe the range and distribution of soil groups in Ireland. Composts Section: Describe the main functions of a compost, and will be able to evaluate the merits of various compost materials and substrates. Explain, using drawings, how to produce aerobically, a compost using organic raw materials. Recall the basics of plant nutrition from a horticultural perspective, and will be able to suggest methods of application and types of fertiliser used when fertilising horticultural crops.

Affective (Attitudes and Values)

Demonstrate an appreciation of the importance of soils for food production and environmental protection

Psychomotor (Physical Skills)

Perform a range of physical and chemical properties on soils

How the Module will be Taught and what will be the Learning Experiences of the Students:

Research Findings Incorporated in to the Syllabus (If Relevant):

Prime Texts:

Brady, N.C. (2001) The Nature and Properties of Soils , Prentice Hill

Other Relevant Texts:

Programme(s) in which this Module is Offered:

Semester - Year to be First Offered:

Autumn - 09/10

Module Leader: