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Soil Sampling, Analyses and Data Interpretation
APBI 403
Section: 001
Instructor: Maja Krzic
Sandra Brown
Sue Grayston
TA, Dylan Mendenhall

Office Hours: TA's Monday (noon-1 pm)
Class Schedule: lectures Fri 1-2pm

labs Tues 1-4pm

Classroom: MacMillan 160
Important Course Pages
Lecture Notes
Course Discussion

Course Description

Application of fundamental field and laboratory measurement procedures and techniques in soil science.

Course Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of APBI 403 / SOIL 503 course students will be able to:

  • Develop a proper field sampling plan and calculate basic statistics that describe the variability and accuracy of the measurements.
  • Measure fundamental soil physical properties and states
  • Measure fundamental soil chemical properties
  • Measure fundamental soil biological properties
  • Interpret and summarize laboratory and field soil data in a written format.

The course learning outcomes will be met through various lab exercises and field visits.

Course Format

The course is organized into three modules: soil physics, chemistry and biology.
Agriculture and forest sites will be sampled, and samples prepared and stored for subsequent analysis. Additionally, samples previously collected from throughout the province will be used to illustrate the variety of soil types. Analyses conducted during the course reflect common, standard and novel approaches quantifying and monitoring soil properties. See the course schedule for topics and dates associated with specific labs.
In each weekly lab period, you will be responsible for collecting data on sample(s) assigned to you utilizing the method(s) discussed in the lecture on that topic. Students are responsible for pre-reading the lab manual and coming to each lab (or field) session prepared to carry out the necessary procedures. During most lab exercises, students will work in pairs. Each student will prepare lab reports for each laboratory session. All students must complete UBC’s online student laboratory safety course – details are provided in your lab manual.

Attendance to ALL lab sessions is mandatory; notes for each laboratory session must be READ prior to labs.

There will be no textbook for the course and background readings will be drawn from a variety of sources.

Course Marks

Activity Grade APBI403
Weekly Lab Reports 60%
Final Summary Reports for soil chemistry, biology, and physics sections† 40%
TOTAL: 100%

Each student will prepare a total of three final summary reports. These reports will be assessed on the basis of content (i.e., data presentation and interpretation), organization, and quality of writing.
NOTE: SOIL 503 students will also have to give a presentation and prepare an extended abstract on a specific method (worth 10% of total mark). For more details see syllabus.

All weekly lab and summary reports should be handed in on time and 10% mark subtraction will be made for each day being late. Late reports, passed day 4 will not be accepted.


See Course:APBI403/Schedule

General References on Soil Lab Methods

  1. Brady, N.C. and R.R. Weil. 2002. The nature and properties of soils. 13th edition. Pearson Education Inc. [General reference on soil science]
  2. Carter, M.R. and E.G. Gregorich. 2008. Soil Sampling and Methods of Analysis, 2nd Ed. CRC Press and Taylor & Francis Group.
  3. Coleman, D.C., D.A. Crossley and P.F. Hendrix. 2004. Fundamentals of Soil Ecology, 2nd Edition. Elsevier Academic Press, San Diego, CA, USA.
  4. Dane, J.H. and G.C. Topp. 2002. Methods of soil analysis. Part 4 - Physical methods. Soil Science Society of America, Book Series No. 5. SSSA. Madison. WI.
  5. Krzic M., T. Naugler, S. Dyanatkar, and C. Crowley. 2010. Virtual Soil Lab Modules. The University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [1]
  6. Page, A.L. 1982. Methods of soil analysis: chemical and microbiological properties. Part 2, 2nd edition. ASA-SSSA, Madison, WI.
  7. Paul, E.A. 2015. Soil Microbiology, Ecology and Biochemistry 4th Edition. Elsevier Academic Press, San Diego, CA.
  8. Ruiz, N., P. Lavelle and J. Jiménez. 2008. Soil Macrofauna Field Manual Technical level. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.
  9. Schinner, F., R. Öhlinger, E. Kandeler and R. Margesin (Eds.) 2011. Methods in Soil Biology. Paperback edition. Springer-Verlag, New York, NY.
  10. Sparks, D.L. 1996. Methods of soil analysis. Part 3 - Chemical methods. Soil Science Society of America. Book Series No. 5. ASA-SSSA, Madison, WI.
  11. SoilWeb200. 2014. On-line teaching tool for the APBI 200 course developed by Maja Krzic. [Quick overview of basic concepts of soil science]
  12. Su, C., L. Lei, Y. Duan, K-Q. Zhang and J. Yang. 2012. Culture-independent methods for studying environmental microorganisms: methods, application, and perspective. Applied Microbiology & Biotechnology 93 (3): 993-1003.
  13. Westerman, R.L. 1990. Soil testing and plant analysis. 3rd edition. ASA-SSSA, Madison, WI.

Note on Academic Honesty

Academic honesty is a core value of scholarship. Cheating and plagiarism (including both presenting the work of others as your own and self-plagiarism), are serious academic offences that are taken very seriously at the University of British Columbia. By registering for courses at the University of British Columbia, students have initiated a contract with the university that they will abide by the rules of the institution. It is the student’s responsibility to inform themselves of the University regulations. Definitions of Academic Misconduct can be found on the following website:,54,111,959#10894

If you are unsure of whether you are properly citing references, please ask your instructor for clarification before the assignment is submitted. Improper citation will result in academic discipline.