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SOIL MICROBIOME BSC310

Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment

Manage soils for an improved and sustainable microbiome.

It's easy to enrol...

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Why learning about soil microbiomes is essential:

  • For achieving high productivity in all farming
  • For production of healthy plant stock
  • Sustainable production
  • Pasture management


COURSE STRUCTURE

There are nine lessons in this course, each requiring approximately 10 hours of work including reading, additional research, completing the set tasks and assignments.

1. Nature and Scope of the Soil Microbiome
Nature of soil
Soil Structure & Texture
Soil Structure and Porosity
Soil Structure Research
Topsoil Thickness
Nutrient Components
Carbon and Nutrient Content
Carbon Retention
Nitrogen
Phosphorus
Sulphur
Other Important Indicators of Soil Health
Acidity (pH)
Salinity
Environmental Factors Affecting Soil Health
Drought
Frost
Erosion
Water Retention
Nature of soil Microbes
Bacteria 
Archaea
Viruses 
Fungi 
Protozoa
Scope of the Soil Microbiome
Plant-Microbe Relationships
Microbe Interrelationships
Changes to the Soil Microbiome
Key Definitions and Concepts for Understanding Soil

2.  Analysing the Soil Microbiome Status
Measurement vs. Monitoring in Soil Biology
Things the Soil Microbiome can Help Measure or Monitor
Types of Soil Biological Testing and Analysis
Deciding on the Right Type of Test
Overview of Different Testing Types
Cotton Strip Assay
Microbial Activity Using Basal Carbon Dioxide Respiration
Microbial Biomass
Identification Through Culturing
Potentially Mineralisable Nitrogen
Biolog Plates
Microarrays
Community Profiling
More Advanced Approaches to the Microbiome: Omics
Transcriptomics
16S rRNA
PCR
PCR-ELISA 
Bioinformatics

3. Human Impact on Microbiomes
Land Development and Urbanisation 
Changes in Land Use and Microbial Communities
Problems with land development on soils
Climate Change
Pollution
Air Pollution
Deposition
Precipitation
Erosion
Microplastics 
Anti-microbials
Antibiotic Resistance
Monocultures 

4. Soil Substrates and Additives 
Soil Substrates 
Inorganic Substrate Materials 
Perlite
Vermiculite
Sand
Rockwool
Organic Substrate Materials
Peat 
Coir
Bark
Soilless Substrates and Microbes
Substrate Technology
Substrate Engineering
Substrate Evaluation
Novel Technologies used in Substrate Management
Tomography
Rhizometrics
Mini-Horhizotron
Rhizometer
Inorganic Additives
Organic Additives
Manures
Compost
Fungal Additives

5. Conventional vs Organic Soil Management
Conventional vs Organic Soil Management practices
Conventional Practices
Soil Carbon Modelling
Organic Practices
Composting
Crop Rotations
Cover Crops
No Tillage Farming
Organic Pest & Disease Control
Weed Control
Rotational Grazing
Livestock Management
Biodynamics 
Biodynamic preparations/sprays

Soil Fertility Management 
Soil Management Strategies
Soil Organic Matter
Cover Crops
Cocktail Cover Crop 
Legume Crops
Longer Crop Rotations 
Reduced Tillage
Planting Trees 
ORGANIC Additives
Soil Humus
Building Soil Humus
Humates
Composting
Animal Manures
Microbial Inoculants & Miicroorganisms
Use of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (AMF) Inoculants
Specific Inoculums 
Protozoa Tea
Earthworms
INORGANIC ADDITIVES
Gypsum
Lime

7. Plant Interactions with a Microbiome 
Soil Organisms
Function of Plant Microbiome
Effect of Non-native Species
Soil Microbiome and Plants
Plant-Soil Feedback
Plant-Microbe Associations 
Examples of Plant-Microbe Associations with Plant Families & Species 
Effects of Different Microbes
Other Associations
Cover Crops & Grapevines
Crop Rotations & Microbiomes
Types of Cover Crops & Microbiomes

8.  Pest and Disease Interactions with a Microbiome
Biopesticides
Advantages of Biopesticides
Biological Control Agents
Microbial Pesticides
Advantages of Microbial Insecticides
Entomopathogenic Fungi 
Protozoa
Bacteria
Engineering Microbial Inoculants to Suppress Disease

9. Soil Regeneration Practices
Restoring the soil microbiome
Practical Methods Which Benefit the Soil Microbiome
Reducing soil disturbance
No tillage (Zero Tillage)
Advantages of no till farming
Controlled Traffic Farming 
Advantages of Controlled Traffic Farming
Increasing crop diversity & ORGANIC matter
Alley Farming 
Cover Crops
Mulching & Composting
Biochar
Increasing soil microbes 
Microbial Inoculation
Plant Breeding and Microbiome Engineering

 

Aims of the course 

  • Explain soil structure, soil components, and the significance of the soil microbiome to plant growth.
  • Describe different ways of identifying and monitoring components of a soil microbiome. 
  • Explain a range of human impacts on soil microbiomes.
  • Compare different soil substrates and additives in different soil environments. 
  • Compare conventional soil management with organic soil management methods. 
  • Describe methods of managing soil fertility with consideration to the soil microbiome.
  • Describe how plants interact with their microbiome in a variety of different situations.
  • Explain different ways that pathogens and pest organisms interact with the soil microbiome. 
  • Determine appropriate soil regeneration strategies to boost the soil microbiome. 

 

What this course might lead to:

  • Work in plant and crop production
  • Soil science career or study pathways  
  • Work in a production system or environment
  • Conservation and land management roles
  • Careers in forestry or mining
  • Managing soils in landscape design or in waste management
  • Preparing papers or writing on soil management

 

Examples of jobs using soil science!

Wetland specialist
Watershed or drainage basin technician
Hydrologist
Environmental technician
Soil and water quality specialist
Conservationist
Agricultural or Crop Consultant
Landscaper
Farmer
On-site land evaluation
Soil scientist
Research technician
Town planner
Crop production specialist
Research scientist

Recently in land sciences there has been a focus toward how physical and chemical characteristics are affected by a complex community of largely unseen organisms that live within the soil. This has meant people need to develop holistic approach to the health of a soil, and therefore the health of the plants which grow in it.

 

Courses can be started anytime from anywhere in the world!

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