[F&ES 723] / 2014-2015

Seminar in Soil Conservation and Management

Credits: 1, 2 or 3



Soils are important to food security and also give shelter and habitat to humans and terrestrial wildlife. Soils also provide important ecosystem services; for example, they are a sink of atmospheric carbon, more so than the aboveground vegetation for many types of ecosystems. Worldwide, soils are impacted by unsustainable management practices in agriculture, forestry, and other human activities, as well as by climate change. However, sustainable techniques geared to increasing soil conservation can mitigate or reverse detrimental effects on soils. This course offers an introductory lecture to refresh and update key concepts on soil science as needed: soil formation, classification, organic matter and nutrients. This is followed by more advanced topics, including: soils as a sink for atmospheric carbon; carbon sequestration in agriculture, pastures, and forests; soil impacts of shifting agriculture; soil management and productivity in agroforestry; soil erosion control; organic farming; mycorrhizae and organic biostimulants; rehabilitation of degraded soils through reforestation; soil changes during forest successional development; soil sustainability in natural forest management and plantation forestry; management of soil water in semiarid environments; wetland soils; urban soils; soil contaminants and phytoremediation. Guest speakers include soil scientists from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), among others. We meet once a week for two lecture periods. At each meeting, lectures are followed by discussion of relevant articles provided by the instructor or students. This class may be taken for one, two or three credits. One-credit students attend course meetings, participate in discussions and field trips, and lead one discussion session; in addition to the previous requirements, two-credit students give an oral seminar on a relevant topic of interest; and three-credit students write a term paper on a relevant subject of their choice. Field trips: wetlands (marshes) in Branford/Guilford, silvopastoral farm, and organic farm.

Prerequisites for F&ES 723:
F&ES 709: Soil Science
or equivalent