82449 - Soil survey and classification

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Responsible consumption and production Climate Action Life on land Partnerships for the goals

Academic Year 2019/2020

Learning outcomes

As part of the theme of managing and conserving primary resources, the acquisition of the ability to classify soils according to international taxonomies in different ecosystems influenced by a different act of pedogenic factors is a priority in the formation of an expert in design and management Of natural and man-made ecosystems. Acquiring the theoretical bases for the interaction of the water-soil-plant system in natural and anthropic contexts makes it possible to consciously address laboratory and field activities for the development of soil cartography at different scale and related applications.
At the end of the course the student must have acquired the methodological procedures to define the pedological delineations, characterize the different types of soils, describe the pedological profiles and classify them. In particular, the student must be able to: classify the soils according to pedogenetic, chemical and physical characteristics and international taxonomies; Use classification and soil characteristics as addressing tools for its sustainable use; Carry out field surveys and be able to handle geological and pedo-archaeological sites; Map cartography of the soils through the use of aerofotogrammetric and remote sensing instruments and field surveys through appropriate georeferencing procedure; Perform elaborated themes derived from the pedological cartography.

Course contents

The student who accesses this teaching must have a good preparation on the foundations of chemistry and biochemistry of the soil, as well as have basic knowledge of pedology and soil science. It must also know the main factors that regulate the ecosystem with particular reference to the climatic, biotic component and processes of humification and mineralization of the organic component, lithology and geomorphological forms supported by cartography, aerofotogrammetry and remote sensing. These prerequisites are believed to be provided by the three-year degrees of classes L21, L25 and L32, where teaching in the fields of agricultural chemistry, biochemistry, and geophysics is believed to be given. The student must have a good knowledge of English as part of the didactic material used during frontal activity and exercise is provided in the original Language.

Content of the theoretical teaching unit (total 36 hours)

1. Description of the pedological profile (6 hours): selection of soil profile for the study; Profile preparation; The pedological survey board; Station data; Description of organic and mineral horizons

2. Physico-physical characteristics of the soil and their functional interpretation (5 hours): speditive diagnosis; Methods for sampling and preparation of soil samples; Analytical characterization; Reading and interpretation of data (case studies)

3. Soil Classification and Its Functional Interpretation (7 Hours): International Classification Systems (Key Soil Taxonomy, USDA - Word Reference Base of Soil Resources (FAO), Taxonomic Keys and Their Use, Applicative Interpretation of Soil Taxonomy

4. Ecosystem Transformation and Landscape Unit (3 hours). Meaning of ecosystem, environment, territory and landscape; Soil response to natural or anthropic modifications of the ecosystem; The meaning of landscape unity; From the landscape unit to the pedological delineation.

5. Soil mapping (6 hours). Organization of a soil paper; Reading ground papers and their respective reports.

6. Derived pedestrian map (6 hours). The Significance of Soil Use Capacity and Application in Territorial Planning Processes; Susceptibility and vocational skills in the fields of agriculture and forestry.

7.Thank international and national knowledge on soil. (3 hours) Structures that operate internationally for the study; The knowledge and dissemination of the soil resource; National and regional soil services; The availability of pedological information on the net.

Content of the laboratory and field teaching unit (total 24 hours)

Acquisition of instruments for field field survey (4 hours): surveys of vegetation and forest habitats - Spatial and punctual pedological surveys - Reading soil profile - Georeferencing by GPS.

Operations on site (4 hours). Choice of type profile and proofing by surveys - Pedo-archaeological survey - Significance of contaminated sites

Sampling mode (4 hours). Disturbed and undisturbed samples - Conservation and preparation for laboratory analyzes

Laboratory activity. (4 hours). Basic chemical-physical analysis: granulometry, pH, conductivity, total carbonates, total organic carbon.

Drafting of soil paper (4 hours). Thematic information levels; Landscape unit card construction; Definition of pedological delineations; Organization of the legend; Classification methods; Realization of soil paper.

Construction of derived thematic cartography (4 hours). Land Capability Soil building.


- Amatucci M., Gherardi M., Lorito S., Vianello G. (2005) “Sistemi informativi Geografici”, Progetto MIUR Collana “Diffusione e sperimentazione della Cartografia, del telerilevamento e dei sistemi informativi geografici, come tecnologie didattiche applicate allo studio del territorio e dell’ambiente”, LAC, Firenze.

- IUSS Working Group WRB. 2015. World Reference Base for Soil Resources 2014, update 2015

International soil classification system for naming soils and creating legends for soil maps.

Rasio R., Vianello G. (1995) “Classificazione e cartografia del suolo”, CLUEB Bologna [Capitoli 2-3].

- Schoeneberger, P.J., D.A. Wysocki, E.C. Benham, and Soil Survey Staff. 2012. Field book for describing and sampling soils, Version 3.0. Natural Resources Conservation Service, National Soil Survey Center, Lincoln, NE.

- Soil Survey Staff. 2014. Keys to Soil Taxonomy. 12th edition. United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Washington, DC.

- Vianello G. et al. (2009) “Radici della Terra: ecologia e geopedologia”, Cappelli Ed. Bologna [Capitoli 11-12-13].

Teaching methods

Front teaching, laboratory and field are carried out in parallel with each other, interacting with programs in other courses of the same cycle so as to integrate or deepen any common themes. The course makes use of mapping laboratories, photogrammetry and soil survey of the Experimental Center for Soil Study and Analysis of the Department of Agricultural Sciences. The laboratory activities are integrated between them for reading topographical and regional technical map, photo interpretation of aerial and satellite imagery, the realization of the landscape unit maps, the organization of data banks of soil and chemical-physical characteristics of the profiles of soils, the construction of the soil map and its legend. The soil survey laboratory provides tools for reading a soil profile using standard procedures defined at international level

Assessment methods

A preliminary assessment of the correct acquisition by students of basic knowledge is carried out in the pipeline subsequent to four distinct paths characterized by a, b phase, c (8 hours), d, e (10 hours), f, g (9 hours), h, i (9 hours) described in the "content unit theoretical teaching." . The ongoing testing of each path takes into account the level of ability of the students in having understood and acquired the basic concepts and information. Check by asking questions, by subjecting tables and images, and interpretation or knowledge errors checking.
At the end of the course we propose a preliminary questionnaire to the exam will in order to give students an awareness of personal preparation and the possible invitation to bridge some gaps in the preparation. The evaluation of thirty, takes into account the cultural and scientific competence is shown during testing in progress that in the solution of the problems discussed during the final examination.

Teaching tools

During the lectures and exercises are given cards, pictures, files and library materials. In addition there are a few websites: www.dipsa.unibo.it/CATGIS - www.dipsa.unibo.it/APOSA - www.apat.it/il ground the root of life - www.soilmaps.it - gias.regione emilia -romagna.it/suoli. Each lecture will be supported by a presentation in ppt, which will be inserted in the "reserve collection" of the University available to students in pdf format.
During the exercises they will use professional stereoscopes for reading and interpretation of aircraft frames, topographic maps of the IGM and regional technical maps to scale 1: 5000 and 1: 10,000, scanners for the storage and reproduction of images, programs for the analysis of remote sensing images (ex.: Google Hearth Pro).
In the field work and site will be used drills and probes for sampling in deep soils of different environments: forest, cultivated, hydromorphic, submerged. To support the field work we will greatly benefit kits for chemical and physical analysis of soils and expeditious for the relative sampling (eg .: Munsell's boards, universal indicator, conductivity meter, pH meter, cylinders for bulk density).
An activity consisting of field exercises will be carried out within the Experimental Farm of Ozzano-Settefonti whose ecosystem diversity, developed over a considerable area, is well suited for the type geopedologico investigations and experiments, in a vision of multi- approach discplinare thanks to coordinated cooperation of the teacher of other subjects involved in the project ALMAFAR.

Office hours

See the website of Gilmo Vianello

See the website of Gloria Falsone