Course Description

Course Name

Soils and the Environment

Session: VDNS3121

Hours & Credits

18 Credit Points

Prerequisites & Language Level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


The characteristics and structure of soils; nutrient systems; human impact on soils; laboratories as required.

Learning Outcomes
-An understanding of the structure and processes of the soil, from an ecological perspective
-An appreciation of the nature of the main New Zealand soil types and the environmental factors that gave rise to them
-An understanding of the main processes by which people affect the soil system, and the implications of such effects
-A familiarity with the main techniques for the chemical analysis of soils
-An awareness of the opportunities for postgraduate research in this field

Course Structure
There are four main sections to the course. The first deals with the form and dynamics of the soil from the nutrient system perspective, providing the theoretical basis for understanding soil formation processes (discussed in the second section) and, more importantly, the influence of soil conditions on plant life (covered in section three). The third section gives us an insight into the mechanisms evolved by plants to cope with naturally-occurring problem soils. The final section deals with the impact of human actions on soil, and indirectly on vegetation, using the principles established earlier in the paper. Activities such as agriculture, forestry, recreation and pollution are covered in this last section, and the lessons from natural systems are used to shed light on the nature of the problems caused by human society, but also to suggest possible solutions.

*Course content subject to change