Soil Properties and Processes (SOIL2003)


This unit of study is designed to introduce students to the fundamental concepts within pedology, soil physics and soil chemistry. These concepts are part of the grounding principles that underpin crop and animal production, nutrient and water cycling, and environmental sustainability taught by other units of study in the Faculty. Students will participate in a two-day field excursion in the first week of semester to examine some common soils of the Sydney Basin, they will also learn to describe soil, and measure soil chemical and physical properties in the field. Referring to common soil profiles of the Sydney Basin, students will concentrate on factors affecting soil formation, the rudiments of soil description, and analysis of soil properties that are used in soil classification. Students will also develop knowledge of the physics of water and gas movement, soil strength, soil chemical properties, inorganic and organic components, nutrient cycles and soil acidity in an agricultural context. At the end of this unit students will become familiar with the factors that determine a soil's composition and behaviour, and will have an understanding of the most important soil physical and chemical properties. Students will develop communication skills through essay, report and practical exercises. The final report and laboratory exercise questions are designed to develop team work and collaborative efforts.

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Further unit of study information


3x1hr lectures and 1x3hr practical/week, commencing week 1, and a compulsory field excursion to be held on the Thursday and Friday in the week preceding (Week O) the first semester.


Soil description report (10%), Quizzes (or Essay) (15%), Practical exercise book (20%), Practical exam (15%) and Written exam (40%).


Campbell, K.O. & Bowyer, J.W. (eds) (1988). The Scientific Basis of Modern Agriculture. Sydney University Press.
White, R.E. (2006). Principles and Practice of Soil Science: the Soil as a Natural Resource. 4th ed., Blackwell Science, Oxford.
Charman, P.E.V. & Murphy, B.W. (2000). Soils: Their properties and management. 2nd ed. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

Faculty/department permission required?


Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.