Though associate degree options are available, courses leading to a degree in soil conservation are usually offered as part of a bachelor's or advanced degree program. These programs might focus on agronomy, food science, soil science and conservation, or crop management. Common concepts covered in these courses include:
- Land use management
- Soil erosion
- Microbiology of soil
- Soil physics
- Environmental impacts
- Soil and agriculture
List of Courses
Soil Conservation and Land Use Management
Students examine various water effects from soil erosion, nutrient transportation to water sources from pollutants and runoff, and the consequences of erosion. Students learn different soil conservation methods and techniques and the economic and political aspects of soil conservation. Wind and water erosion are also covered, as well as techniques for reducing nutrient loss to surface and ground waters.
Agronomy is the study of crops, soil conservation and soil use. In the crop portion, students learn the techniques in production management and weed control and the technology used in oil and cereal crops. The soils portion of the course covers the study of soil conservation, soil management principles, the nature and properties of soil and its proper use.
Soil Microbiology and Environmental Soil Science
The various properties of microorganisms are examined in relation to soil structure, quality and fertility factors. Students examine symbiotic relationships between microorganisms and sustainable agricultural production. Soil and environmental aspects related to conservation efforts and the production and release of inorganic and organic materials to the air, soil and water. Students may also examine the various nutrient requirements of plants and microbes, as well as biodegradation and bioremediation solutions for pollutants.
Physics of Soils
Students learn the fundamentals of soil physics in relation to texture, water, air, crop production, pollution and irrigation. The uses and input of fertilizers, herbicides, seeds, irrigation water and soil conservation methods are examined, always with the intent to maintain the soil's integrity. Students may need to complete prerequisite coursework in soils and in physics before enrolling in this course.
Environmental Impacts to Soil
Various environmental impacts to soil are examined, both in the classroom and in the lab, including from livestock, erosion, groundwater and surface water contamination, soil moisture and thermal regimes. The course also explores the impact on soil of compaction from humans, livestock and machines. Soil conservation issues are discussed surrounding management practices and balancing the cycle of nitrogen and phosphorus in the soils of a farm environment.