D3a - Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie, Alimentari e Ambientali - Guida degli insegnamenti (Syllabus)


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Seat Agraria
A.A. A.A. 2016-2017
Credits 9
Hours 81
Period 2^ semestre
Language ENG
U-gov code SFA 3A172


Good knowledge on chemistry, biochemistry, plant biology, maths, physics

Development of the course

The didactic method consists of front lessons with the help of ppt projections (provided in copy to the students) (7 ECTS), and lab experiences (main chemical, physical and instrumental methods used for pedological studies) and field excursions (2 ECTS).

Learning outcomes

Knowledge. The main aim of the course is to give the basic knowledge for recognizing the processes responsible for soil genesis, and understand the complexity of the forest and natural ecosystems, so as to develop the capability to take decisions for their eventual conservation and/or protection. With this course, the student will also understand part of the complex interactions among soil, plants, animals, water and air.


Applying knowledge and understanding. The course is organized to give the students scientific and technical tools that allow him/her to take decisions on destination, evaluation, purpose and design of environments that span from forests, natural or threatened ecosystems, territories submitted to extremes conditions such as those affected by cold, aridity, salinity, etc..


Cross-expertise. a) development of the ability to linking pedological issues to arguments treated in the courses of “Systematic and forest botany”, “Dendrometry and silviculture”, Forest chemistry”; b) development of an own judging capability on themes like conservation and protection of ecosystems, based on scientific and technic knowledge; c) ability to properly transfer information, ideas, problems and relative technical solutions to experts with different scientific and technical background involved in managing forest and natural ecosystems (foresters, hydraulic engineers, ecologists, land surveyors, administrators of parks, reserves, local entities).



General topics

- soil definition, FAO resolution about soil protection, concept of pedosphere, Jenny equation; profile and horizons (O, E, A, B, C, R); main horizon characteristics (colour, texture, structure, consistence, roots, mottling, concretions, clay skins, silt caps) (1 ECTS)

- soil forming forces; parent materials; climate and topography; time (modern, ancient and buried soils); biota (plants, microorganisms and animals) (1 ECTS)

- soil composition; main soil minerals; mineral alteration (congruent and incongruent dissolution); genesis and evolution of the soil organic matter and organic matter incorporation (1 ECTS)


Special topics

- importance of litter and pedofauna in the global carbon cycle; structure formation and its importance in soil protection; ecological solutions (rain, stemflow, throughfall, litterfall) and phenomena linked to soil erosion; pedogenetic  processes in the main pedological environments (1 ECTS)

- glacialism, permafrost, periglacial conditions, cryoturbation and genesis of the Gelisols;  rubefaction, ferrolysis and genesis of the Entisols; swamping and genesis of the Histosols (1 ECTS)

- lessivage, formation of fragipan, and genesis of Alfisols and Ultisols; melanization and genesis of the Mollisols; podzolization and genesis of the Spodosols (1 ECTS)

- volcanic materials, andosolization and genesis of the Andisols; laterization and genesis of the Oxisols; Inceptisols, Vertisols, Aridisols, submarine soils (1 ECTS)

- fields excursions: opening and description of a soil profile; geological, geomorphological, and climatic setting of the site; soil sampling; soil characterization through lab analyses; data interpretation (2 ECTS)

Development of the examination

Learning evaluation methods

Final assessment will focus on an oral examination lasting 40-45 minutes.


Learning evaluation criteria

During examination the student has to demonstrate the knowledge of the topics treated during lessons and field excursions, and the capability to properly expose the arguments with an appropriate technical-scientific language. Particular attention will be given to the ability to deal with deductive reasoning and connections so as to demonstrate mastery of the discipline.


Learning measurement criteria

The oral exam consists of 2-3 questions on arguments treated during the course (30% of the final mark) and 2 queries dealing with reasoning on and connections among arguments that are typical of soils and pedological environment treated during the course (remaining 70% of the grade).


Final mark allocation criteria

The assignment of the final mark will be out of thirty and will be determined by the weighted mean of the marks obtained in the two sets of questions. The cum laude will be given to the student who has achieved the highest mark and has also demonstrated the ability to connect course arguments and make deductive reasoning.

Recommended reading

1) A. GIORDANO, Pedologia forestale e conservazione del suolo, Utet, 2002.

2) G. SANESI, Elementi di pedologia, Edizioni Edagricole, Bologna, 2000.

3) R.J. SCHAETZL, S. ANDERSON, Soil genesis and geomorphology, Cambridge University Press.

4) SOIL SURVEY STAFF, Soil Taxonomy. A Basic System of Soil Classification for Making and Interpreting Soil Survey, United States Department of Agriculture & Nat. Res. Cons. Serv. U.S. Govern. Print. Office, Washington, D.C., 2010.

5) ASSOCIATION FRANÇAISE POUR L’ETUDE DU SOL (AFES), Référentiel Pédologique. Édition Quæ, Versailles, France. 2008.



Office hours

On Wednesday from 3 to 5 p.m., or other day by appointment taken via email or telephone.



  • C.L.T. - Scienze Forestali ed Ambientali (SFA)

Università Politecnica delle Marche
P.zza Roma 22, 60121 Ancona
Tel (+39) 071.220.1, Fax (+39) 071.220.2324
P.I. 00382520427