Core course: Soil, soil biology & soil hydrology

The rationale of this module is to provide students with a general idea of soil formation, life within the soil, the links to biogeochemical cycles, as well as transport processes.

Key integrating aspects (propositions, to be continued):

  • Everything is connected (i.e. the water, C, N, P and mineral cycles interact nowhere as closely as in the soil)
  • Time scales of the different interacting cycles (time of soil formation, vs. time of complete degradation of this years litter vs. time of complete exchange of water within the soil volume?)
  • Soil structure connects with biogeochemistry as well as water flow


May 09-13, 2011
Start at 9 a.m. The lectures will take place in the seminar room B0.002. The practical part on Monday will take place just outside the the MPI-BGC. The exkursion on Tuesday afternoon to a raised bog will be by car (you will go in the MPI's Ford Transit and Beate Michalzik's car). The lab session on Wednesday will take place in .



Due to lab space limitations, the number of participants is restricted to 12.


Suggested reading

Brady & Weil (2001). The Nature and Properties of Soils. Prentice Hall



L = lecture, D = demonstration, P = practical, E = excursion

Mon  Intro to soil science and the mineral phase of the soil 
 a.m. (I)LImportant aspects of soil science (1.5 h)
- Soil function and formation
- Intro to soil phases (water/air, mineral, organic)
Beate Michalzik
 a.m. (II)LSoil classification (1.5 h)
- Key concepts and systems
- Soil transfer functions
-Soil properties and ecological site characteristics
Beate Michalzik
 p.m.E/DSoil description and sampling (close to the MPI)
- Description of soil profile
- Taking soil samples for laboratory analysis on day 3
- Measurement of simple soil properties in the field
Beate Michalzik
Tue  Soil biology 
 a.m. (I)LOverview of soil fauna (1.5 h)
- Biodiversity of soil organisms
- soil food webs
- Role of functional organism groups for biogeochemical processes (including their role for soil structure)
Marion Schrumpf
 a.m. (II)LSoil microbiology (1.5 h)
- Actors/drivers in element cycles, link to day 3 lectures
- Methods of soil biology (classical field & laboratory incubations)
Kirsten Küsel
 p.m.E/DField trip to raised bog (with field measurements)Kirsten Küsel
Wed  C-N cycles in the soil (connection to the organic soil phase) 
 a.m. (I)LSoil C and N stocks and turnover (2 h)
- Carbon stabilization mechanisms
- C and N processes and interactions
- Methods for determination of substrates and C/N processes and isotopic markers
Gerd Gleixner
 a.m. (II)LModeling soil C and N turnover (1h)Thomas Wutzler
 p.m.DSoil physical and chemical analysis in the laboratory (location: Löbdergraben 32, Institute of Geography)
Analysis of basic soil properties on the soil samples collected on Monday (soil pH, humus content by Munsell, aggregate stability, soil texture) plus intro to analysis methods and machines
Beate Michalzik
Thu  Pore / Water phase of the soil, and transport processes 
 a.m. (I)LSoil hydrology (2 h)
- Water flow/storage in unsaturated and saturated media, incl. non-linear processes, macro-pore flow
- Water balance at soil surface
- Plant – water interactions
Anke Hildebrandt
 a.m. (II)LTransport in porous media (1h)Anke Hildebrandt
 p.m.DModeling exercises with C / N / H2O soil modulesThomas Wutzler
Fri  Environmental change / Human impacts 
 a.m. Soil degradation
- (compaction, loss of organic carbon, acidification, increased erosion, i.e. results of intensive land use)
Beate Michalzik
 a.m. (II) Response of soil processes to change of moisture and temperature (climate change) (1h)
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