Fundamentals of Soil Science

TPSS 304


Jonathan Deenik


To understand how and why different soils behave and perform differently. To apply understanding of soil processes to predict soil behavior and performance that ensures sustainability and reduce environmental damage.

Skills and knowledge to be acquired:

To be able to make environmentally and economically sound sustainable soil management decisions. To be able to predict soil behavior and field performance.

Computer skills to be acquired:



One of CHEM 151, CHEM 161, CHEM 171 or CHEM 181A; or consent.

Cross-Listed courses:

NREM 304


The Nature & Properties of Soils, 13th Edition, 2003, by Nyle C. Brady and Ray R. Weil.

You will also be provided with additional reading material not covered in the text.

Films and videos:


Guest Speakers:


Field Trips:

A field trip to study the different soil types on Oahu.

Course organization:

The lectures will cover:

  • Origin of Soils and need to ensure sustainability
  • Soil Chemistry and Testing
  • Soil Composition and Minerals
  • Soil Physical Properties
  • Nutrients: N, P, K, Ca, Mg, S, Micro-nutrients
  • Nutrient Management and environmental protection
  • Soil Water
  • Soil Temperature
  • Soil Air
  • Soil Organisms
  • Soil Microbial Processes
  • Plant-Soil Microorganisms Interactions
  • Soil Classification
  • Soil Information Systems and Sources

Laboratory includes:

  • Field Tour
  • Soil Acidity and Liming
  • Rocks and Minerals
  • Soil Density, Texture
  • Greenhouse Experiment
  • Nutrient Deficiency Symptoms
  • Water Potential and Content
  • Soil Microorganisms
  • Soil Survey Reports
  • Soil testing


To help you focus on topics, you will be given homework assignments every Friday based on the following week’s reading and lecture topics. Homework will be due that following Friday.

There will be two midterms and a final exam. The midterm exams will cover material for which you have not been previously tested. The final examination will test your overall understanding of soil science.

There is one lab report collected for grading. This report is on the outcome of a greenhouse soil fertility experiment. The report should include (1) research objectives, (2) review of literature, (3) materials and methods, (4) results and discussion, and (5) conclusions.

1st Midterm Exam 20%
2nd Midterm Exam 20%
Final Exam 35%
Reading-based Homework 15%
Green House Lab Report 10%