Goals and Learning Objectives
- Identify soil nutrients and soil function as key resources in need of protection for food production and food systems.
- Describe spatial and geographic variation in soil resources and soil fertility.
- Distinguish between preexisting aspects of biogeochemical cycling and human-induced processes that affect biogeochemical cycling.
- Attribute different soil fertility outcomes in food systems to the coupled natural and human factors and feedbacks that produce them.
After completing this module, students will be able to:
- Describe the basic properties of soil that distinguish it from mere "dirt".
- Explain how soil serves as a medium for plant growth.
- Explain how the five soil-forming factors interact to produce soils.
- Explain the term "biogeochemical cycling".
- Explain common limiting factors to plant growth that limits food production around the world.
- Explain how nutrient and carbon depletion from soils and soil erosion create conditions of low food productivity.
- Assess how farming practices affect soil fertility.
- Analyze modern fertilizer use as the emergence of a strong human system impact on nutrients in soils that replenishes soil nutrients but can create nutrient pollution.
- Analyze how natural/human system feedbacks operate to limit the actions of poorer food producers around the world.
- Incorporate sustainability challenges related to soil nutrient management into an analysis of food systems.