STOCKSCH 106 – Soil Science and Management


Instructor:  Renee Ciulla                                  Contact:

Credits: 3

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Course Overview: This class introduces the importance of soils globally as well as in your own backyard. Throughout the course, a fun approach is taken for students to appreciate intricate soil ecosystems and feel more comfortable understanding the science of soils. Interrelationships of soil and higher plants will be studied as well as the physical, chemical, and biological properties of soils. Factors of soil formation are covered as are soil classification. The hydrologic cycle is emphasized as well as drainage and irrigation, soil and water conservation, plant growth, nutrients, fertilizers and organic amendments. Whether you are a farmer, home gardener or simply curious about environmental issues, students will admire the significance of  sustainable soil management.

Learning Objectives: Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  1. Understand the importance of soils, world soil distributions and soil classification
  2. Manage soil in a home garden or farm sustainably (fertilizers, organic amendments, understand what weeds are indicating, etc)
  3. Recall and define the basic terms used for the description, study, and management of soils.
  4. Describe the soil forming factors and the effect of each factor on soil development.
  5. Identify and describe soil physical properties such as texture, structure, and color.
  6. Explain how soil physical, chemical, and biological properties and processes affect agricultural and nonagricultural land use and management.
  7. Explain the importance of maintaining proper soil pH and levels of essential nutrients for optimum plant growth.
  8. Summarize the ecological functions of soil and explain the role of soil management in maintaining and improving environmental quality.

Course Structure: At the beginning of every week students will be provided with a list of all the work to be completed during the week of class. There will be Discussion Questions which students will post responses to in the “discussion forum” section of Blackboard. These responses are due by midnight on Thursday. To receive full Discussion credit for the week, students are also required to comment on at least on peer’s post by Sunday at midnight. Required Readings are listed in the Weekly Content Folder with required Homework questions that are due by Sunday at midnight. The Final Research Project will be created from the vast array of topic covered throughout the semester and determined by the student’s personal interests.

soilsbookRequired Text: Soil Science and Management by Edward J. Plaster.  Delmar Publishers. (the 6th edition is VERY expensive but if you purchase the 4th and 5th editions online they are fine and much less expensive, but if you purchase it online be sure not to buy the lab manual by mistake which looks similar).


Class Participation and Discussion Assignments: 50%

Homework Assignments: 25%

Final Project: 25%

A        =  95-100 total points

A –     =  90-94

B+      =  87-89

B        =  83-86

B-      =  80-82

C+      =  77-79

C        =  73-76

C-       =  70-72

D+      =  67-69

D        =  60-66

F         =  59 or below


Other online courses offered during the fall semester

STOCKSCH 197 S – Plants in Our World (GenEd; BS & G – 4 credits)

STOCKSCH 297R – Raising Dairy Goats Sustainably (3 credits)

STOCKSCH 297V – Organic Vegetable Production (3 credits)

STOCKSCH 397 GF – Global Food Systems (3 credits)

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