S2: Second Semester
Coordinator: Professor Richard Morgan
The purpose of the paper is to provide a scientific basis for understanding the nature, causes, and implications of soil system problems that result from human actions.
Soil is a fundamental resource, both for people and for natural biological systems. It supports plant life and, as a consequence, all terrestrial ecosystems are dependent on it. Soil is also the basis of production agriculture and forestry, which provide food and materials for the global community. However, it is very vulnerable to misuse and abuse. Erosion is thought by many experts to be the most important environmental problem facing humanity today. But even where the soil cover is kept intact, the quality and characteristics of the soil can be drastically altered by our actions. Many of the changes are unseen, and often unsuspected, because they occur within the soil. But the results of those changes - to soil structure, processes and properties - can often affect food production, food quality, ecosystem viability, and the general welfare of communities, both human and non-human, dependent on the soil for their wellbeing and life.
The characteristics and structure of soils; nutrient systems; human impact on soils; laboratories as required.
Soils are the basis of life on Earth: they support natural terrestrial ecosystems, and those created by humankind, on which we rely for food and other key resources. But increasingly our activities, from agriculture and forestry, to urban, industrial and even recreational land uses, threaten the health of this major resource. In this paper, we look at soil from an ecological point of view, to understand human impacts on soil health and provide a basis for addressing those problems through informed environmental management.
|Paper title||Soils and the Environment|
|Teaching period||Not offered in 2019, expected to be offered in 2021|
|Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD)||$1,059.15|
|International Tuition Fees (NZD)||$4,627.65|
- GEOG 101
- GEOG 390
- Schedule C
- Arts and Music, Science
- An environmental science background will be an advantage.
- More information link
- View further information about GEOG 284
- Teaching staff
- Co-ordinator: Professor Richard Morgan
- Paper Structure
There are four main sections to the paper:
- the first section deals with the form and dynamics of the soil from an ecological perspective,
- the second section provides the theoretical basis for understanding soil formation processes,
- the third section covers the influence of soil conditions on plant life and
- the fourth section deals with the impact of human actions of soil, and indirectly on vegetation, using the principles established earlier in the course.
Assessment is 50% internal (on-going during the semester) and 50% external (final examination)
- Teaching Arrangements
Two 50-minute lectures per week
A series of 2:50-minute laboratory sessions run in scheduled weeks over the 13 weeks of the semester. In the laboratory programme, students will work in groups of 6-8, and work through a series of soil tests to investigate a soil affected by a particular human activity.
Main course text: McLaren, R.G. and Cameron, K.C. (1996) Soil Science. Oxford University Press., Auckland (2nd edn.)
Entry-level text:Ashman, M.R. and Puri, G. (2002) Essential soil science. Blackwell
Extension text:Brady, N.C. and Weil, C.C. (2007) The nature and properties of soil. (14th edn.)
- Graduate Attributes Emphasised
- Communication, Critical thinking, Environmental literacy, Information literacy, Research,
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
- Learning Outcomes
- On completion of the paper students should have:
- An understanding of the structure and processes of the soil, from an ecological perspective
- An appreciation of the nature of the main New Zealand soil types and the environmental factors that gave rise to them
- An understanding of the main processes by which people affect the soil system, and the implications of such effects
- A familiarity with the main techniques for the chemical analysis of soils
- An awareness of the opportunities for postgraduate research in this field