66030 - Soil Physics

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student has acquired the knowledge of the physical and chemical principles that regulate the exchange of mass and energy in the soil, in the plant and in the first atmospheric boundary layer. The student is able to: measure the main physical variables of the soil, quantify the main terms of the water balance of crops through the use of mathematical models. The student has acquired skills related to the hydrostatic and hydrodynamic state of the soil, the thermal state, and the transport of solutes for the purpose of quantifying the fluxes of environmental pollutants.

Course contents

1. General principles of soil physics; properties of solid, liquid and gaseous form; (Total teaching unit: 2 hours) 2. The solid phase; properties of primary and secondary minerals, particle size distribution; (Total teaching unit: 4 hours) 3. Specific surface and surface properties; adsorption models; (Total teaching unit: 2 hours) 4. Structure; models describing the structure, simplified models, fractals (total teaching unit: 2 hours) 5. The gaseous phase, properties of gases, gas flows in the soil. (Total teaching unit: 4 hours) 6. The thermal state of the soil (heat flow and thermal properties of the soil) (Total teaching unit: 4 hours) 7. The liquid phase, the main properties of water (thermal, mechanical and electromagnetic) (total teaching unit: 6 hours) 8. Hydrostatic (water content and water retention curve); Functions of Campbell and van Genuchten; (Total teaching unit: 4 hours) 9. Hydrodynamics (water flow in the saturated and unsaturated zone); mass conservation equations; agronomic applications of hydrostatics and hydrodynamics (soil water balance, irrigation and drainage) (total teaching unit: 6 hours) 10. The movement of solutes in agricultural land; convection-dispersion law; agronomic applications of the movement of solutes (soil salinization, effect of solutes on soil and crops, fertilization, flows of organic and inorganic pollutants in groundwater and surface water). (Total teaching unit: 6 hours)


Soil Physics with Python.

Bittelli, Campbell and Tomei. Oxford University Press

Teaching methods

In class lectures, computer exercises, fields and labs experiments.

Assessment methods

Written exam.

Teaching tools

Programming skills, labs.

Office hours

See the website of Marco Bittelli