Course Unit Page


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

Quality education Climate Action Life on land

Academic Year 2019/2020

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student has acquired the knowledge related to the pedogenesis factors, to the soil  formation and evolution, to the morphological and chemical-physical characterization modalities of the soil in the field and in the laboratory, to the description of the pedological profiles and to the recognition of the diagnostic horizons. In particular, the student is able to describe the soil profile having the basics to name the diagnostic horizons and to soil classification up to the subgroup level according to the international taxonomic systems (Soil Taxonomy USDA and World Reference Base WRB).

Course contents


The student who accesses this teaching must be in possession of a good preparation regarding the fundamentals of inorganic and organic chemistry, as well as having the basic notions concerning the ecosystem. In particular, it must have knowledge of climatic characteristics, the biotic component and the geomorphological forms supported by cartography, aerofotogrammetry and remote sensing elements. These prerequisites are believed to be provided by the three-year degrees of classes L13, L32 and L34 where teaching is believed to be taught in the fields of inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, botany, mineralogy and petrography. The student must have a good knowledge of English as part of the teaching material used during the frontal and tutorial activities is provided in the original language.

Lessons contents (total 45 hours)

a. Introduction to the course (2 hours): definition of soil, the primary resource soil.

b. The factors of pedogenesis (6 hours): The climatic factor; The lithological factor; the biotic factor; the morphological factor; the time factor.

c. The processes of physical disruption and chemical alteration of rocks (6 hours): cryoclastism, thermoclastism, aloclastism, divaricating action of the roots; oxido-reduction, hydration, carbonation, hydrolysis.

d. The processes of transformation of the organic substance (4 hours): humification and mineralization processes; the organic substance fractionation; the cycles of carbon and nitrogen.

is. Soil formation and related diagnostic horizons (6 hours): aggregation and structure; organic horizons (diagnostic epipedon: histic); mineral organ horizons (diagnostic epipedon: crumb, umbric, ochric, melanic, anthropic)

f. Soil evolution and related diagnostic horizons (6 hours): Chemical alteration processes - depth diagnostic horizons: cambico - Decarbonation, leaching, podzolization processes - depth diagnostic horizons: calcic, argillic, spodic.

g. Description of the soil profile (4 hours): choice of the soil profile for the study; profile preparation; the pedological detection card; station data; description of organic and mineral horizons

h. Physico-chemical characteristics of the soil and their functional interpretation (4 hours): quick diagnosis; methods of sampling and preparation of soil samples; analytical characterization; reading and interpretation of data (case studies)

the. Soil classification and its functional interpretation (7 hours): the international classification systems (Key of Soil Taxonomy, USDA), taxonomic keys and their use, applicative interpretation of soil taxonomy

Practical activity (total 20 hours)

the. Preliminary activities to the field survey (4 hours): topographic representation and representation and remote sensing image of the survey areas; collection and processing of climatic data; geolithological characterization and land use; information and bibliographic data collection.

m. Field operations (6 hours): Choice of the type profile and survey by means of surveys; - prompt and punctual pedological reliefs; reading of the station and of the ground profile; data organization on a type card; the pedoarcheological building site

n. Sampling and preparation methods (4 hours): disturbed and undisturbed samples; sampling for "bulk density"; conservation and preparation of soils for laboratory analyzes; grinding and sieving for skeleton separation from the fine earth.

o. Laboratory activities (6 hours): Basic chemical-physical analysis: granulometry, weaving; pH, conducibi




Each lecture will be made available to students in pdf format on the University website (AMS Campus).

Per ulteriori approfondimenti si consigliano:

- G. Certini, F.C. Ugolini. Basi di Pedologia, Edagricole, Bologna 2010

- C. Dazzi. Fondamenti di pedologia, Le Penseur, 2013

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

- 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

- http://www [http://www/] . Dipsa.unibo.it/CATGIS Cartografia, Aerofotogrammetria, Telerilevamento, Sistemi Informativi Geografici.

- http://www.dipsa.unibo.it/APOSA Atlante dei paesaggi, Orografia, Suoli e Acqua dell’Italia e delle regioni.

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  AUB Farm of Monte Orzale (Loiano) whose ecosystem diversity, developed over a considerable area, is well suited for the type geopedologico investigations and experiments. 

Office hours

See the website of Gilmo Vianello