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Facoltà di Scienze Agrarie e Alimentari Università degli Studi di Milano
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Soil Science: part 1: Soil Chemistry
Code: G2608A
Teacher:  Fulvia Tambone
CFU subdivision: Lectures: 4,5
Practices in laboratory:  1,5
Basic aims:  The aim of the course is the knowledge of the characteristics of the soil and its principal functions. The soils will be studied for their agronomic characteristics and for how much it concerns their vulnerability in relationship to different uses.
Acquired skills:  Chemical, physical and biological characteristics of soil. Laboratory activity for the determination of the principal soil characteristics.
Course contents:  Soil definitions. Mineral and rocks. Processes of alteration of the mineral. Products of the alteration: the clays. Physical properties of soil. Soil organic matter. Soil chemical properties: mechanism of cationic and anionic exchange. Soil and water, soil and air. Red-ox potential of soil. Soil pH: acidity, salinity, paddy soils. Soil fertility: nitrogen, phosphorus, sulphur and other meso-elements cycles. The fertilizers: fertilizers and amendments. The use of sludges and manures: principals agronomic and environmental aspects. Soil analyses (laboratory).
Program:  Definition of the soil: the soil as open system. The soil main functions: production function, protective, natural function. Soil as a three-phase system: solid, liquid and gaseous. Theoretical structure of a soil profile. Minerals and rocks: mineral silicates, classification and structure of silicate minerals. Processes of minerals alteration: disintegration and decay, action of water, wind, glaciers and biotic entities. Products of alteration: clays. Structure of the clay: 1:1 clays, 2:1 clays, heterovalent isomorphous substitutions. The physical properties of the soil: real and apparent texture, structure, density and porosity. The organic matter: humic and non humic component, processes of accumulation and consumption in relation to soil fertility. Action of the substance on the chemical, physical and biological properties of the soil. Chemical properties of the soil: adsorption and exchange: main theories, the characteristics and composition of the exchange complex of the soil, degree of base saturation, cation adsorption and anion specific and non-specific, complex inner-sphere and outer-sphere. The soil-water relationships. The soil-air relations: soil as a "respiratory system". Red-ox potential of the soil. Chemical properties of soil: different pH values (in water and potential). Acid, basic, sodium, submerged soils. Soils with extreme pH: possible correction. Soil fertility. Nitrogen cycle. The phosphorus cycle. Sulfur cycle and other meso and micro elements in relation to the availability in the soil. Fertilizers: mineral, organic, amendments and corrective. The use of sludges and manures: principals agronomic and environmental aspects. Soil analyses (laboratory).
Prerequisites:  Basic knowledge of inorganic chemistry and organic chemistry
Preparatory instructions:  Inorganic and organic chemistry
Learning materials:  Books: P. Violante “Chimica del suolo e nutrizione delle piante” – Edagricole L. Radaelli e L. Calamai “Chimica del terreno” – Ed. Piccin P. Sequi “Fondamenti di chimica del suolo” – Ed. Patron

For foreigners students: Principles of Soil Chemistry, Fourth Edition by CRC Press; Author: Kim H. Tan available in the library of the Faculty
Other info:  Soil chemistry: written exam. The test consists of 3 questions: 1 exercise or comment of a soil analysis and 2 open questions on topics of the program, aimed at ascertaining the candidate's level of knowledge.
Geopedology: oral exam with 3 questions.
Program of Soil Science: part 1: Soil Chemistry (pdf version)
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