27371 - Agricultural soil mechanics

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Michele Mattetti

  • Credits 6

  • SSD AGR/09

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language Italian

  • Campus of Bologna

  • Degree Programme Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Planning and management of agro-territorial, forest and landscape (cod. 8532)

  • Teaching resources on Virtuale

  • Course Timetable from Feb 22, 2022 to May 24, 2022


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

Quality education Industry, innovation and infrastructure Life on land

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students will know all the principles of geotechnical engineering and they will be able to apply such knowledge for the design and protection of land resources.

Course contents

Lectures (36 hours):

  • Basic phisics:
    Definitions of force, moment, static equilibrium.
  • Soil classification;
  • Atterberg's limits:
    Liquid limit, plastic limit, shrinkage limit, plastic index, clay activity index, plasticity chart, determination of liquid limit by Casagrande's spoon and cone penotrometer, determination of plastic limit.
  • Soil elasticity:
    Young's modulus, Poisson's coefficient, shear modulus
  • Mohr's circle:
    Principal directions.
  • Shear strenght:
    Coulomb failure line, soil friction angle, cohesion, Mohr-Coulomb failure criteria.
  • Soil strains:
    Consolidation, compaction.
  • Soil shear testing in laboratory:
    Triaxial test (CD, CU, UU), direct shear test.
  • Lateral earth pressure:
    Active, passive and at rest condtions according to Raking and Coulomb theories.
  • Slopes stability:
    Stability of unfinite slope for cohesionless soils and cohesive soils, stability of finite slopes.
  • Shallow foundations:
    Failures of shallow foundations, bearing capacity of soils with Terzaghi's formula, safety factor calculation of shallow foundations.
  • Design of sheet piles and gabion walls.

Exercises (24 hours):

  • Soil sampling:
  • Soil samples will be collected in unstable slope.
  • Measurement of Atterberg's limits;
  • Mini excel course.
  • Slope stability:
    Introduction to SSAP software.
  • Design of retaining walls:
    Design of gravity walls, gabions, sheet piles and cantilever walls with MS Excel.


Course material:
  • PDF notes provided by the teacher. To aid class learning process, these notes should be printed before each lecture. These notes will be provided with IOL service and they will be accessible to those subscribed to the distribution list.
  • Budhu, Muni - Soil mechanics and foundations - John Wiley & Sons, 2008.
  • Luigi Maurizio Paternò - La relazione geologica... per esempi(o), 2001. This material is useful for the development of the report.

Discretionary course material:

  • J. Facciorusso – Dispense di Geotecnica – Università di Firenze download link: http://people.dicea.unifi.it/johannf/?page=support_geot.
  • John Atkinson - Fundamentals of ground engineering - CRC Press.
  • Whitlow, Roy-  Basic soil mechanics - Longman, 1990.
  • Piergiuseppe Froldi - Dissesto idrogeologico e stabilità dei versanti. Consolidamento dei pendii con palificate. Analisi e progettazione - Maggioli Editore, 2015.
  • Materials useful for the design of slope retaining structures will be provided through the AMS Campus service.

The details of the distribution list can be requested by email.The email object has to contain the following string:
"Lista di distribuzione GEOTECNICA AGRARIA".


Teaching methods

Lectures in class, in soil mechanics and computer laboratories.

During the course, seminars will be planned and will be held by experts in the field of slope stabilization.

Assessment methods

The course is a module of "Agro-Forestry Hydraulic Systems" together with the course of "Hydraulic Agro-Forestry". Consequently, the final assessment will be the average value of the single assessment of each course. 

For this module, the final exam will consist in a combination of written and oral examination. For the written examination, an exercise to stabilize a slope with earth ground structures will be provided. The written and oral examinations contribuite up to 22 and 10 points, respectively. The total mark will be the sum of the two examinations. The two examinations will be considered sufficient only if the results will be greater than the half of the maximum score. 

The online exam confirmation is mandatory. Considering that is a module, the recording Teacher is Prof. Michele Mattetti.

Students wishing to take the examination in English are allowed

Teaching tools

Lectures in class, soil testing laboratory and in computer lab.

Office hours

See the website of Michele Mattetti