Study the chemistry of soil and water for better soil and water management in horticulture and agriculture.

Course Code: BSC307
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Explore How The Chemistry Of Soil And Water Affects Plant Growth

In this course the interactions between soil, water, and the environment are explored. The course explains in some depth key topics on soil structure and composition before moving on to hydrological cycles and the impacts of water. The topics are all highly relevant to both horticultural and agricultural activities as the content describes the features of different soils and which ones impact things like plant growth and yield.

It is very beneficial for anyone involved in any form of cultivation or management of land. It provides a strong foundation in understanding the importance of both soil and water types and how to monitor and assess them.

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Soil Chemistry - An Introduction
    • Chemistry Revision
    • Soil Redox Reactions
    • Biogeochemistry & Soil Structure Review
    • Biogeochemical Cycles
    • Mineralisation
    • Immobilisation
    • Ammonium Fixation
    • The Urea Cycle
    • Soil Adsorption/Desorption
  2. Soil Chemical Processes
    • Factors Of Soil Formation In More Detail
    • Weathering Processes Of Soil Formation
    • Soil Profile Description
    • Soil Classification & Description
    • Soil Types & Plant Growth
    • Properties Of Soils
    • Physical & Chemical Properties Of Soil
    • Soil Characteristics & Their Relationship To Plant Growth
    • Ph And Its Effect On Plant Growth
    • Cation Exchange Capacity
    • Chemical Terms Revision
  3. Soil-Chemical Testing
    • Obtaining Soil Samples For Testing
    • Do’s & Don'ts Of Soil Sampling
    • Common Soil Tests
    • Other Soil Cations
  4. Soil Chemistry – Applications In Agriculture
    • Components Of Soil Fertility
    • Nutrient Pools
    • Farm Chemicals
  5. Soil Chemistry – Applications In Environmental Management
    • Soil Pollutants
    • Soil Remediation
  6. Water Chemistry - An Introduction
    • Water - Chemical & Physical Properties
    • Hydrological Cycle
    • Water Resources
    • Water Footprint
    • Drought & Impact
  7. Water – Chemistry Of Water Sources And Drinking Water
    • Water Sources & Their Chemical Composition
    • Chemistry Of Seawater
    • Chemistry Of Groundwater
    • Chemistry Of Surface Water
    • Chemistry Of Potable Drinking Water
  8. Water – Chemical Testing
    • Water Ph
    • Electrical Conductivity (EC)
    • Total Alkalinity
    • Total Hardness
  9. Water Chemistry – Applications In Human & Environmental Health
    • Water Pollutants
    • Examples Of Pollutants/Contaminants & Remediation
  10. Water Chemistry - Applications In Agriculture PBL
    • Problem Definition
    • Problem Based Learning Report


  • Describe the dominant geochemical cycles on earth.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of basic chemistry including atoms and their components, elements, compounds and chemical reactions.
  • Explain the important chemical reactions occurring in soil and their consequences.
  • Differentiate between different soil fractions with respect to their nature, size and chemical activity.
  • Describe different soil test methods and explain how the test results are used.
  • Explore components of soil fertility.
  • Describe soil chemistry/fertility factors affecting crop growth in different farming environments.
  • Explain ways of improving soil fertility for crop production.
  • Discuss the impact of chemically altering soil vs. cycling and other natural methods.
  • Describe inorganic and organic soil pollutants.
  • Discuss effects on health and the environment.
  • Discuss ways to remediate soils.
  • Outline the components of the earth’s water cycle.
  • Describe the main chemical properties of water.
  • Explain the various ways in which water is classified.
  • Explain the chemistry of different water sources, giving examples of different properties and reactions.
  • Describe different water test methods and explain how the test results are used.

What You Will Do

  • Research redox reactions, then diagram the reductive and oxidative processes in photosynthesis.
  • Discuss the chemical structure of a colour-causing compound.
  • Discuss how hydrogen defines the difference between acidic soil and alkaline soil.
  • Gather soil samples from 3 different locations and perform pH tests on each of the soil samples.
  • Conduct research about costs, operation and application of various types of soil testing equipment.
  • Research tillage, and how it affects all the components of soil fertility and chemical ratios in the soil.
  • Discuss the relationship between carbon and nitrogen in the soil and how nitrogen affects carbon availability.
  • Research pesticide heavy crops in your area, then alternative or low-chemical ways to reduce pests.
  • Research the chemistry of seawater, then diagram the oxygen and carbon dioxide movement in seawater.
  • Investigate potable water and potable water treatments.
  • Investigate the relevance of water hardness in agriculture.
  • Research the relationship between EC and pH.

Who Can Benefit From Taking This Course?

Those who work in;

  • Horticulture
  • Agriculture
  • Conservation
  • Land management
  • Forestry
  • Mining
  • Landscape design
  • Waste management
  • Production/Industry

Anyone with an interest in biology and life sciences, or geology and earth sciences.

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

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