Soil health and functioning

Subject description

Review of the basic chemical, biochemical, phsical and biological principles and indicators of soil quality and health.

Soil as Habitat. Soil Biodiversity and functions. Organism interaction and soil processes. Bioindicators of soil quality and health.

Effects of land use and agronomic practices on soil quality and soil health.

The effect of contaminants, physical factors and natural and anthropogenic processes of soil degradation on soil quality and soil functioning. Specifics of urban soils. Regulations and legislation on soil protection.

Remediation of contaminated soil and methods of rehabilitation and revitalization of degraded soils.

More detailed will be discussed on:

Chemistry and biochemistry of organic soil substances,

Equilibrium at phase boundaries, sorption on surface functional groups and complexes;

Oxidation-reduction reactions in soil and potentials,

Pproteolytic reactions of Al and Fe oxides, carbonate balance;

Biochemical reactions: role in processes of genesis and circulation of soil components; Kinetics of chemical and biochemical reactions and processes in soils;

Selected chapters of soil ecology. Recycling of nutrients, buffering and decontamination, ecosystem self-regulation of plant diseases and pests. Stability of soil ecosystem, resistance and resilience of soil microbial community.

The subject is taught in programs

Objectives and competences

Soils are the basic substrate in agriculture and an essential part of the environment. In studying the nutrition of plants, introducing contemporary agronomic practices and in researching the protection and sanation of degraded or polluted soils it is crucial to be well acquainted with the functioning of the soil, which is to a large extent dependent on the chemical, biochemical, physical and biological properties and processes in the soil.

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, seminars, laboratory exercises, individual work.

Expected study results

Knowledge and understanding:

The subject enables the student an in-depth insight into the properties of soil components, reactions and processes that direct the functioning of soils as a tripartite system of solid, liquid and gaseous phases and specific ecosystem. At the same time, it acquaints them with methods and instruments used in this kind of research.

Basic sources and literature

Brady, N.C., Weil, R.R. 2002. The Nature and Properties of Soils,13ed. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, ISBN 0-13-016763-0

Pierzynski,G.M., Sims, T., Vance, G. 2004. Soils and Environmental Quality, 3rd. ed. CRC Press, Boca Raton. ISBN 10-8493-1616-2

Sparks, D.L. 2003. Environmental Soil Chemistry. Academic Press, San Diego. ISBN 0-12-656446-9

Wall, D.H., 2012. Soil Ecology and Ecosystem services, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-957592-3

Bloem J., Hopkins D.W., Benedetti A., 2008. Microbiological Methods for Assessing Soil Quality. ISBN 0-85199-098-3.

revijalni članki s področja, tekoča periodika, druga učna gradiva…

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