AGR 3304 Soil Science

Subject Cat-nbr Class Term Mode Description Units Campus
AGR 3304 40491 1, 2005 EXT Soil Science 1.00 Toowoomba

Academic group: FOENS
Academic org: FOES03
Student contribution band: 2
ASCED code: 010709



Examiner: Steven Raine
Moderator: Rabi Misra


A knowledge of soils as a resource in both natural and agricultural ecosystems is important to science, arts, education and engineering professionals involved in the sustainable management of biological systems. This introductory course focuses on soils as a medium for plant growth and investigates the nature and role of the soil chemical and physical properties, clay mineralogy, and soil biology as limiting factors on soil fertility. It also provides a comprehensive investigation of the processes of soil formation and the methods of soil description and classification. Both the physical and chemical processes of soil degradation are investigated and management practices to prevent, ameliorate and rehabilitate degraded land are discussed.


On completion of this course, student should be able to:

  1. demonstrate an understanding of the processes involved in soil formation and the techniques involved in soil description and classification;
  2. demonstrate an understanding of the soil components and the nature of the interactions between these components;
  3. demonstrate an understanding of the factors and processes influencing structural stability, water availablility and movement, and temperature fluctuations in soils;
  4. demonstrate an understanding of the factors and processes influencing fertility and nutrient cycling in soils;
  5. analyse the factors and processes that lead to the degradation of soil resources and explain the management practices used to minimise and rehabilitate degraded soils.


Description Weighting (%)
1. Pedogenesis, soil description and classification
2. Soil components and interactions
3. Soil physical processes (structural stability, soil-water, temperature)
4. Soil fertility and plant nutrition
5. Degradation and management of soils

TEXT and MATERIALS required to be PURCHASED or accessed:

ALL textbooks and materials are available for purchase from USQ BOOKSHOP (unless otherwise stated). Orders may be placed via secure internet, free fax 1800642453, phone 07 46312742 (within Australia), or mail. Overseas students should fax +61 7 46311743, or phone +61 7 46312742. For costs, further details, and internet ordering, use the 'Textbook Search' facility at click 'Semester', then enter your 'Course Code' (no spaces).

Singer, MJ & Munns, DN 2002, Soils, An introduction, 5th edn, Prentice Hall, New Jersey.


Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.

Brady, NC & Weil, RR 2002, The nature and properties of soils, 13th edn, Prentice Hall, New Jersey.

Isbell, RF 2002, The Australian soil classification, 1st edn, CSIRO Publishing.

Leeper, GW & Uren, NC 1993, Soil science: An introduction, 5th edn, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, Vic.

McDonald, RC, Isbell, RF, Speight, JG, Walker, J & Hopkins, MS 1990, Australian soil and land survey field handbook, 2nd edn, Inkata Press, Melbourne.

McLaren, RG & Cameron, KC 1996, Soil science: Sustainable production and environmental protection, Oxford University Press, Auckland, NZ.

Rowell, DL 1994, Soil science: Methods and applications, Longman Scientific and Technical, Harlow.


Assessment 36.00
Directed Study 52.00
Examinations 3.00
Private Study 64.00


Description Marks out of Wtg(%) Due date
ASSIGNMENT 1 150.00 15.00 22 Apr 2005
ASSIGNMENT 2 250.00 25.00 27 May 2005
3 HOUR CLOSED EXAMINATION 600.00 60.00 END S1 (see note 1)
Student Administration will advise students of the dates of their examinations during the semester.


  1. Attendance requirements:
    There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students' responsibility to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.
  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To complete each of the assessment items satisfactorily, students must obtain at least 50% of the marks available (or at least a grade of C-) for each assessment item.
  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    If students submit assignments after the due date without prior approval then a penalty of 20% of the total marks available for the assignment will apply for each working day late.
  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 45% in each of the summative assessments and at least 50% of the available weighted marks for the summative assessment items.
  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the weighted aggregate of the marks (or grades) obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.
  6. Examination information:
    In a Closed Examination, candidates are allowed to bring only writing and drawing instruments into the examination.
  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Any Deferred or Supplementary examinations for this course will be held during the examination period at the end of the semester of the next offering of this course.
  8. University Regulations:
    Students should read USQ Regulations 5.1 Definitions, 5.6. Assessment, and 5.10 Academic Misconduct for further information and to avoid actions which might contravene University Regulations. These regulations can be found at the URL or in the current USQ Handbook.


1. The due date for an assignment is the date by which a student must despatch the assignment to the USQ. The onus is on the student to provide proof of the despatch date, if requested by the Examiner.
2. Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. This must be produced within five days if required by the Examiner.
3. In accordance with University's Assignment Extension Policy (Regulation 5.6.1), the examiner of a course may grant an extension of the due date of an assignment in extenuating circumstances.
4. The Faculty will normally only accept assessments that have been written, typed or printed on paper-based media.
5. The Faculty will NOT accept submission of assignments by facsimile.
6. Students who do not have regular access to postal services or who are otherwise disadvantaged by these regulations may be given special consideration. They should contact the examiner of the course to negotiate such special arrangements.
7. In the event that a due date for an assignment falls on a local public holiday in their area, such as a Show holiday, the due date for the assignment will be the next day. Students are to note on the assignment cover the date of the public holiday for the Examiner's convenience.
8. Students who have undertaken all of the required assessments in a course but who have failed to meet some of the specified objectives of a course within the normally prescribed time may be awarded one of the temporary grades: IM (Incomplete - Make up), IS (Incomplete - Supplementary Examination) or ISM (Incomplete -Supplementary Examination and Make up). A temporary grade will only be awarded when, in the opinion of the examiner, a student will be able to achieve the remaining objectives of the course after a period of non directed personal study.
9. Students who, for medical, family/personal, or employment-related reasons, are unable to complete an assignment or to sit for an examination at the scheduled time may apply to defer an assessment in a course. Such a request must be accompanied by appropriate supporting documentation. One of the following temporary grades may be awarded IDS (Incomplete - Deferred Examination; IDM (Incomplete Deferred Make-up); IDB (Incomplete - Both Deferred Examination and Deferred Make-up).