Aim of the course is to introduce the students to the knowledge of soil constituents and to their chemical and physical properties. Particular emphases will be given to the role of soil organic matter, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles and to biogeochemical cycles of other macro- and micro-nutrient essential for plant nutrition.
The soil as a three-phase system. Soil constituents. Rocks (notes). Structure and properties of soil minerals. Structure and properties of clays. Soil organic matter: constituents and their chemical properties. Liquid and gaseous phases of soil (notes). The origin of charges on the surphace of solid components. Cation and anion exchange capacity. Soil pH. The carbon cycle in the soil. The functions of soil organic matter. Movement of nutrient in the soil. The rhizosphere. Fate of nutrients: nitrogen phosphorous and sulphur cycles; forms and reaction of potassium, calcium and magnesium in the soil. Micronutrients in the soil and factors affecting their solubility and availability. Soil analyses: methodology and data interpretation.
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