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APBI401 / SOIL501

Soil Processes

Course Info
Instructor: Dr. Sandra Brown
Office: MCML 229
Class Schedule MWF 11-12pm
Classroom: MCML 160
Optional Tutorial M 4:30-5:30
Classroom: MCML 258
Course Pages
Course Discussion

A course on Soil Processes will be offered in the fall jointly as APBI 401 and SOIL 501. The course may be taken for graduate or undergraduate credit. The course content and objectives are provided below.


Latest syllabus links (uploaded Fall 2018)(pdf)

Course Objective

APBI 401 aims for students to gain a basic understanding of the essential processes that take place in soils. It is best suited for students interested in gaining more depth in understanding soil processes and students interested in specializing in soil science. A background in natural sciences in recommended.

Course Description

Soils are a fundamental component of APBI-ecological, forest, and other land use systems; reflecting natural processes and the influence of human activities. Topics to be covered include:

  • the genetic development of soils
  • the essential function for biomass production
  • microbial functioning
  • nutrient cycling
  • C sequestration
  • how processes are influenced by land use activities

It is expected that students will gain sufficient knowledge to understand the role of soil biology in decomposition, recycling of nutrients, and soil formation, soil bio-meteorological processes, soil hydrology, soil quality and resilience, and spatial and temporal variability. Emphasis will be placed on the integration of soils, water, biota, and the atmosphere, and anthropogenic influences on soil processes.

Course Organization and Delivery

This course will be taught using a modular format (4-5 hours for each module). Lectures are held 3 times weekly. Approximately half of the lectures will be delivered by guest lecturers with expertise in specific topics, including faculty members from the Faculty of Land and Food Systems, the Faculty of Forestry, the Department of Civil Engineering, and the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability.

Readings will be assigned prior to the start of each module. Readings will include class handouts, journal articles from the library, and various soil textbook chapters. Textbooks will be placed on reserve at the Woodward Library on campus. Students are expected to complete relevant readings before the module lectures.

Assignments and Grading Scheme

APBI 401:

Activity Percentage of Grade
Assignments (3) 30%
Midterm Exam 30%
Final Exam 40%
TOTAL 100%

SOIL 501:

Activity Percentage of Grade
Assignments (3) 25%
Midterm Exam 25%
Term Paper 10%
Final Exam 40%
TOTAL 100%