Basic Principle of Soil Science

Course NameBasic principle of soil science



Pre-requisitePrinciples of Chemistry, General biology

Lecture Time: 60 (15 weeks, 2 sessions/week, 2 hours/session)

Instructors: Dr. Zhengyi Hu

Course Description

This course is designed to introduce the basic principles of soil science including soil definition, function; soil minerals, organic matter, organisms, gas, and heat; soil formation, development and classification; migration and cycle of water in soil; soil colloidal and surface chemical reactions; soil solution chemical reactions; cycle of nutrients in soil; and soil quality to undergraduate students at environmental science, ecology and agricultural science fields for students to lay the foundation of knowledge at soil science for engaging in scientific research and technical research and development.

Topics and Schedule

  1. Introduction (2hr)
  2. 1Soil definition
  3. 2Soil function
    1. Soil Minerals (6hr)
  4. 1Mineral composition and chemical composition of soil substances.
  5. 2Clay minerals
  6. 3Distribution of soil clay minerals in China.
    1. Soil organic matter (6hr)
  7. 1Source, content and composition of soil organic matter
  8. 2Decomposition and transformation of soil organic matter
  9. 3Formation and transformation of soil humus
  10. 4Role and management of soil organic matter
    1. Soil organisms (4hr)
  11. 1Soil biotic component
  12. 2Environmental factors affecting soil organisms
  13. 3Soil organism distribution and its interaction.
    1. Soil water, gas and heat (4hr)
  14. 1Basic properties of soil moisture.
  15. 2Soil water potential
  16. 3Soil gas
  17. 4Soil heat and thermal properties
    1. Formation and development of soils (4hr)
  18. 1Factors affecting soil formation
  19. 2Soil formation process
  20. 3Soil development
  21. 4Soil genesis and formation of soil diagnostic layers
    1. Soil classification (4hr)
  22. 1 Basis and requirement of soil classification.
  23. 2 Soil classification systems
  24. 3 Classification of soils in China.
  25. 4 Distribution of soil in China
    1. Soil structure and mechanical properties (4hr)
  26. 1 Soil particles
  27. 2 Soil texture
  28. 3 Soil structure
  29. 4 Mechanical properties of soil
  30. 5 Soil tilth and tillage
    1. Migration and cycle of water in soil (4hr)
  31. 1 Migration of soil liquid water
  32. 2 Migration of soil gaseous water
  33. 3 Available, balance and cycle of water in soils
  34. 4 Dynamics of water in soil and regulation
  35. 5 Migration of soil solutes
    1. Surface chemistry of soil colloidal (6hr)
  36. 1 Surface type and structure of soil colloid
  37. 2 Surface properties of soil colloidal
  38. 3 Adsorption and exchange of cations on soil colloids
  39. 4 Adsorption and exchange of anions on soil colloids
    1. Chemical reactions in soil solution (6hr)
  40. 1 Composition and characteristics of soil solution
  41. 2 Acid-base reactions in soil
  42. 3 Oxidation-reduction reactions in soil
  43. 4 Precipitation-dissolution reactions in soil
  44. 5 Complexation-dissociation reactions in soil
    1. Cycle of soil nutrients (4hr)
  45. 1 Cycle of carbon in soil
  46. 2 Cycle of nitrogen in soil
  47. 3 Cycle of phosphorus in soil
  48. 4 Cycle of potassium in soil
  49. 5 Cycle of sulfur in soil
  50. 6 Cycle of micronutrients in soil
    1. Soil quality (6hr)
  51. 1 Soil fertility quality
  52. 2 Soil health quality
  53. 3 Soil environmental quality


The homework will be graded, which count for 20% of the total scores. Class attendance will be selectively checked, which count for 10% of the total scores. At the end of the class will be followed by a final examination, which will count for 70% of the total scores.


Changyong Huang, Jianming Xu, Soil Science, 3rd edition, Beijing, China Agricultural Press, 2010.


  1. Nyle C. Brady, Ray R. Weil, The Nature and Properties of Soils, Prentice Hall, London, 2001.
  2. Singer, M. J., Munns, D. N., Soils: An Introduction(4th ed.), Prentice-Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ. USA, 1999.
  3. Sumner, M. E.(ed.), Handbook of Soil Science, CRC press, Florida, 2000.
  4. Gary, M. J. et al., Soil Environmental Quality, CRC Press, New York, 2000.
  5. Zuxiang Zhu, Soil Science (A), first edition,1th, Beijing, China Agricultural Press, 1983.

Course Website