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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Postgraduate Courses (School of GeoSciences)

Postgraduate Course: Soil Protection and Management (PGGE11183)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
Summary"Healthy soil equals healthy food equals healthy people equals a healthy planet," Professor Rattan Lal.
Over 95% of the food we eat needs soil and water to grow (FAO). Soils are a necessary for food, fibre, fuel; climate regulation; providing habitats and supporting biodiversity; managing flood regulation and water quality; providing foundations or infrastructure and cultural heritage. In the Soil Protection and Management course we introduce you to the major functions and challenges faced in soil management, followed by potential strategies for sustainable soil use.
This course begins with Dr Rose Boyko introducing what soils are, their key characteristics and the range of soil functions and ecosystem services they provide. Dr Paul Hargreaves will outline the environmental policies and practice to support soil protection and management. Alternative land management will then be explored, with topics such as regenerative agriculture and innovative farming technologies. Dr Andrew Innes and Simon Gibson Poole will cover the technological advances applied to soil protection and management, including sensing and analytical methods. Dr Luis Novo and Dr Andrew Innes will discuss management techniques to prevent land degradation by toxic element contamination, salinization, soil erosion and techniques to promote restoration of contaminated and disturbed land will be considered. You will attend two field trips to explore land use and soil management in Scotland.
Course description Week 1 18/09/23 Characterisation Introduction to Module
¿ What is soil? Composition and characterisation
¿ Global soil issues and challenges
Week 2 25/09/23 Characterisation Field Trip ¿ land use and classification
¿ Joint trip to Boghall Glen Farm or Kirkton Hill and Mountain Research Centre (joint with SSC&A)
Week 3 02/10/23 Protection & Management Environmental Policy Protecting and Managing Soil and Land Use
¿ Policy and practice supporting soil fertility, nutrition, nature/biodiversity, etc.
¿ Reducing physical impact on soils, practice rather than theory: tillage methods, tram lines research
Week 4 09/10/23 Protection & Management Agricultural Methods to Protect and Manage Productive Soils
¿ Regenerative agriculture
¿ Organic & permaculture practices
¿ Innovation & technologies: vertical farming and urban agriculture
. RV tour of horticulture facilities
Week 5 16/10/23
Week 6 23/10/23 Protection & Management Technological Advances in Soil Protection and Management ¿ (SGP) SENSING: Technology, mapping, drone, UAV, remote sensing? Erosion modelling? Precision ag? Variable rate fert, satellite? Case studies/trial work?
¿ (AI) ANALYTICAL METHODS: New methods for interpreting and analysing soils? New ways of analysing soil C, etc? Lab tour, Edinburgh?
Week 7 30/10/23 Protection & Management Field trip with Tweed Forum
¿ Peatland restoration, flood management, soils and forestry (Mapping)
¿ Habitat restoration, land management challenges
¿ Research Proposal Submission
Week 8 06/11/23 Contamination Contaminated Land and Environmental Assessment
¿ Mechanisms of contamination
Week 9 13/11/23 Contamination Contaminated Land Remediation
¿ Phytoremediation
¿ Phyto mining
Week 10 20/11/23 Contamination Urban and Construction Soil
¿ Challenges
¿ Policy Changes (Landfill bans and 5% to landfill = diversion)
¿ Mitigation measures and remediation
¿ Report Submission

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  40
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 33, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 163 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 20% for oral presentation
40% for essay
40% for research proposal
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Have an understanding of soil formation, classification and global distribution.
  2. Determine interactions between soil and the environment
  3. Identify key factors driving reduction in soil quality and increased erosion potential.
  4. Evaluate land management practise to mitigate negative impacts on soil.
Reading List
As the course covers many different topics, further online reading guidance specific to each topic is provided within lecture material weekly.
However if you are new to soil science and are keen to conduct some preliminary background reading, the following textbooks provide valuable background material for the course.
*We do not expect you to purchase these books to undertake the course, you will be provided with reading material weekly*
¿ Barrow, C.J. (1991). Land Degradation. Cambridge University Press.
¿ Brady N.C. and Weil R.R. (2007). The nature and properties of soils (14th Edition).
¿ Harris, J.A., Birch, P. & Palmer, J. (1996). Land Restoration and Reclamation - Principles and Practice. Longman, London.
¿ Hudson, N. W. (1995). Soil Conservation (3rd Edition) Batsford, London.
¿ Marshall J.T., Homes C.T., and Rose C.W. (1996). Soil Physics.
¿ Morgan, R. P. C. (2005). Soil Erosion and Conservation (3rd ed) Blackwell, Oxford.
¿ Sparks, D.L. (2002). Environmental Soil Chemistry. (2nd Edition) Academic Press.
¿ Tan, K. H. (2000). Environmental Soil Science (2nd Edition). M. Dekker, New York.
¿ Wild, A. (2003). Soils, Land and Food: Managing the Land during the Twenty-First Century.
¿ Code of Good Practice, giving practical advice to farmers etc on minimising pollution. Scottish Executive 2005
¿ Papadopolous, A et al., (2014) Does organic management lead to enhanced soil physical quality? Geoderma 213: 435-443
¿ Dobbie, K.E, Bruneau, P.M.C and Towers, W (Eds) 2011. The State of Scottish Soils. Natural Scotland,
¿ Blum, W.E.H (2005) Functions of soil for society and the environment. Reviews in Environmental Science and Bio/Technology 4:75¿79
¿ Smith, P et al., (2010) Competition for land. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 365: 2941-2957

Online resources relating to soil threats:
¿ FAO Soils Portal
¿ FAO Status of the World¿s Resources:
¿ Global Soil Partnership ¿ Global Soil Threats by region:
¿ Valuing your soils:
¿ Valuing your Soils Brochure: Practical Guidance for Scottish Farmers:
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills You will have the opportunity to develop and understanding of the pressures and issues relating to soil preservation, management and rehabilitation and to develop potential land management strategies to alleviate or remediate these issues.
KeywordsSoil,protection,management,soil sustainability,envrironmental management
Course organiserDr Rose Boyko
Course secretaryMs Jennifer Gumbrell
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