Agricultural chemistry (2011/2012)

Course code
Zeno Varanini
Academic sector
Language of instruction
Teaching is organised as follows:
Activity Credits Period Academic staff Timetable
Teoria 11 II semestre, I semestre Zeno Varanini
Laboratorio 1 II semestre, I semestre Zeno Varanini

Lesson timetable

Learning outcomes

Aim of the course is to analyse with a chemical and biochemical approach the main phenomena and relationships taking place in the soil-plant system.
We intend 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.
Furthermore, we will give the students the bases necessary for the understanding of chemical transformations that matter undergo inside living organisms putting them in relation with qualitative and quantitative aspects of agricultural production with particular emphasis on viticulture and enology. The goal will pursued by describing the structure and the functions of biomolecules and the properties of the enzymes. Membranes transport phenomena and main metabolic cycles including nitrogen and sulfur assimilation will also be presented.


Structure and functions of biomolecules: amino acids and proteins, carbohydrates, lipids. Enzymes: kinetic, inhibition, regulation. Notes on cellular energetics. Membranes: functions, transport systems, characteristics of membrane proteins. Oxidation of sugars, ADP phopsphorilation. Notes on β-oxitdation of fatty acids and glioxylate cicle. Penthose phosphate cycle. Photosyntesis in C3 plants. Nitrogen and sulfur assimilation.
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. Essential nutrients and their biochemical role in plants. 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 and foliar analyses: methodology and data interpretation.

Assessment methods and criteria

Oral examination