Department of Earth Science      Northeastern Illinois University

SOIL SCIENCE                                                                                     J. Hemzacek homepage 
ESCI 329            Fall 2013
                                                                              questions?  send me an email

It isn't just "Dirt" !! 

What type of soil is this?
follow the link, and try to find this soil profile.
What soil order is represented?


assignments - updated

course schedule of topics
printable course syllabus (schedule subject to change)
resources and other web links
         Additional course resources
             including resources for assignments;
             images for reference to class topics; etc.

   Illinois soil map
      soil degradation maps - country
      soil maps index
      Web Soil Survey
           other resources

                   organic / mucky/ mineral



some documents are in .pdf form;     
if you do not have Adobe Reader,     
click here to download.      

(c) 2013 J Hemzacek, NEIU
Last updated 27 Aug 201


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                  Earth Science Department             Back to Soil Science home                

Printable Course Handouts, Resources for assignments, etc.
DUE DATE ASSIGNMENTS             Scroll down for previous assignments
13 Dec submit completed take-home final exam not later than 5 pm on this date;
MS Word attachment via email.
12 Dec
term projects - submit lab write-up; submit and present PowerPoint to class on this date, at time of final exam period (2:00 -3:50 am on this date -- note different day of the week!)...
See details here
9 Dec last regular class day - fertilizer problems due
4 Dec Hydrometer study results
Typed*, submitted in hard copy or as MS Word attachment to email; include the following sections:
- Overview: soil identification and characterization (source; what else do you know about it through
   evaluation of other soil properties)
- Method:  detail the hydrometer method as applied, noting any modifications that were necessary,
   or any sample processing issues that you encountered)
- Results:
   -- table of all data collected
   -- complete calculations (show all work)*   * this can be submitted in hand-written format, as an
          appendix, if desired
- Summary: interpretation of results and comment on comparison to field method of
   soil textural analysis
2 Dec Complete the take-home quiz and submit on this date.
  Familiarize yourself with the method for soil hydrometer analysis through these resources:

NRCS Field & Laboratory Methods Manual  (see link in Methods Resources, below)
   nres201/Lab Soil Texture and Density
        Grain Size Analysis                            video version   
21 Oct REMINDERS - complete the following and get to me ASAP:
       water calculation spreadsheet;     water movement diagrams;    
       state soil assignment, part 2  (government websites are working again!)

  In addition, you should be working on your agg. activity - mostly out-of-class time.
                 It will be due next week.
  Also, see below for assigned reading (for Wednesday)
  Read these articles as a follow-up to our class discussions on Monday:
 DoubleMurder_2012Fitzpatrick          this link should now be fixed!!

 Potential, Pitfalls in Establishing Provenance of Earth-Related Samples in Forensic Investigations

If you want to review the soil-water video, you can find it here:
10 Oct
Complete the calculations for soil water content by entering apprpriate formulae in
this spreadsheet
You will need to open the file and "save as"** so that you can modify the file on your computer.
You will submit this assignment by emailing your completed spreadsheet to me. 
     **Before submitting, please rename the file so that it includes your name;
        the file name should be   SWC2_(your name)
If you have any problems downloading/opening/uploading the Excel file, email me immediately!
10 Oct
Researching a state soil, part 2.  updated!
You will find the details for this assignment here, including a list of your assigned states.
23 Sep
Complete Problem set 1 (given in class).
Be sure to show all work, label all data clearly, and give clear, concise explanations of your answers where appropriate.
Wed, 4 Sep Field Assignment:   Collect a soil sample!    Follow the instructions here, and bring (a) sample(s) to class.
Wed, 4 Sep:
you should have the answers to the questions, and you should
Assignment:   Researching a state soil 

This part is due on Wed 4 Sep; you should turn in a typed assignment, with proper heading. 
Please do not use a font size smaller than 12; number the questions so I can tell which part of your answer is which!
First, use the resources provided to examine a number of state soils, and answer the following:
1. What general criteria are used when a state chooses its state soil?  In other words, what is the significance of a state soil?
2. Choose two states that seem to have state soils with different characteristics, and examine the soil maps for those two states.
    How does the distribution of the state soil in those two states compare to the distribution of other soil types in each state?
    Identify the state by name, and give a short (short!) assessment of "state soil vs. other soil types."

As a later follow-up, we will do the following:
Pick one state in the U.S. (each student must select a different state!); you will use the links provided to find out about the state soil of that state.  It is not important at this time that you understand all the information you find!  
Use the links again to find out about that state's "official" (or sometimes unofficial) soil, and gather information about that state soil.

Scroll up for assignment details  
Links for
State Soils

These are NRCS links to the individual state soil agencies, from which you can find more information about your soil:        STATE NRCS links

NRCS State Soils Information

Map format link to NRCS  (Stanford Univ)

High resolution map images for soil order distribution in the US
          (by individual soil order)
ArcGIS map of soil order distribution in the US

Download OSDs for any soil series by name

alternatively, search individual states;
many state agencies
-- including geological surveys or
soil agencies--
provide additional info on state soils

Methods Resources:

Field Book for Describing
and Sampling Soils
available online from NRCS:
ordering hard copy?  
Soil Survey
Laboratory Methods Manual
available online from NRCS:
Soil Survey Field and Laboratory Methods Manual (includes hydrometer method for particle size distribution)
Soil Quality Test Kit Guide available online from NRCS:
Soil texture - hydrometer  
Types of Soil samplers - hand tools browse the links at this site:
  Other methods  
  Soil moisture determination - based on ASTM method  

Soil definitions


European Commission Joint Research Centre

Soil Science Society of America

Soil Glossary -

useful additional sites
   Illinois NRCS site

Other resources  
  Soil Taxonomy - USDA
Soil Taxonomy Names (Orders, Suborders, Great Groups..) formative elements

        more on soil classification names

  Soil Quality Indicators (USDA):      general info            Bulk Density

Managing Soil Tilth: Texture, Structure and Pore Space

Soil Quality: Indicators: Soil Structure and Macropores

Soil Water Management Soil Tensiometers:  when to irrigate                  Instruments for measuring soil water potential
                     soil moisture potential

wilting point: turgor pressure:      2           
  osmotic potential

How water moves through soil (video)         How Water Moves in the Soil (pdf)    another video

redoximorphic features; soil color, water, and air
how much soil?



For educators/
soil science education

Dr. Dirt


NASA (possibly no longer maintained)    

 nutrients and fertilizers
                    Guide to nutrient deficiencies

                    Responsible Use of Fertilizers                      Responsible fertilizer practices for lawns

  What is Organic?
Nutrient Content of Fertilizer and Organic Materials
SL-3/SS170: The Florida Fertilizer Label
ANNOUNCEMENTS    Scroll down for previous messages
26 Aug Text resources for this course are listed below, as discussed in class.
Recommended text:
       Elements of the Nature and Properties of Soils (3rd ed.);  Brady & Weil, 2010, Pearson /Prentice Hall
                   (try an ebay search of this title; there are multiple copies available at a good price, with free expedited shipping;
                    other options include and, of course,
                    If you would prefer that I pursue getting this book into Beck's for you, please let me know ASAP.

Also very good:
       Soils in Our Environment (11th ed.);  Gardiner & Miller, 2008, Pearson/ Prentice Hall
       Soils, An Introduction (6th ed.)  Singer & Manns, 2006, Pearson/ Prentice Hall

Other texts and resources:  (more coming soon)
         The Nature and Properties of Soils (Brady & Weil):
                    there are a number of used (and some older editions?) on at good prices.  you'll have to look at the details
                    to see if these books suit your interests.

Remember: we can make it work, even if we are using a variety of books.  Let me know what you think.



Researching a state soil - Part 2
States chosen:

Marybella - Arizona
Colleen - Georgia
Lauren - Hawaii
Brittany - Florida
Natasha - Delaware
Obinna - Texas

Joanna - Idaho
Cindy - New Jersey
Jazmin - Washington
Sarah - Tennessee
Karl - California
Quentin - Kentucky

Details of State Soil Assignment

Consider the information about your state soil; you should be able to answer the following:

 -- to which soil order does it belong?  what does that tell you about the soil?
 -- what can you tell about the soil characteristics from the information that you found?
 -- what do you not understand about your soil from the information you found (i.e, terms you don't understand,etc.)
 -- choose a state that you suspect should have very different soil(s) than your state.  Why, specifically, do you think this state would be different in terms of its soil(s)? 

Your write-up (due Monday, 14 Oct) will include:

1. Describe your chosen state soil, including the following aspects:
     -- to which soil order does it belong?  what does the soil order indicate about this soil?
     -- in what way(s) do the soil properties vary, as you examine the parts of the soil profile? 
          What can you tell, based on the horizonation, about soil forming processes and factors for your soil?
                      Explain the basis for your interpretation
            What aspects are you unable to interpret at this time?  --> Articulate your questions

     -- on what kind of parent material(s) did this soil develop?  what can you tell about the
           regional geology of this area, based on knowledge of the parent material(s)?
     -- what is the distribution of this soil within the state (how much, and where in general),
           and what other types of soils (in very general terms!) are present in your state?
     -- in what ways is this soil significant to your state, such that it was selected as the state soil?

2.  Now consider the state soil of a state that you suspect should have quite different soil(s)
     than your state.
     a. name the second state, and its state soil -- including soil order.  Give a brief (brief!)
 description of this state soil.
     b. Why did you expect that this state would have different soil type(s) than your first state?
         Be specific.
     c. In what ways were you correct about soil differences, and/or in what ways were you
         surprised by the comparison of the two state soils?  Be specific when comparing soil
     d. What additional questions about soil properties, about soil in general, or about interpreting
         soil information, are raised by comparing this soil to the first?










Details of Term Project

Consider this as simply a "lab report" on your work. 
There are two deliverable elements for the project: an MS PowerPoint presentation (submitted to the instructor as an e-file, and presented during the final exam period for the class), and a lab report write-up.

The lab write-up portion should have the same format as the hydrometer study:
      Typed*, submitted in hard copy or as MS Word attachment to email; include the following sections:

- Overview: soil identification and characterization, including source of sample(s); what background information do you have about this soil and/or about this location; expectation for differences or similarities between multiple samples; short overview of analyses included in the evaluation of the sample(s).

 - Methods:  Give a short summary of methods used for each parameter that is evaluated, including citations for the methods used.  Note any method modifications that were necessary for the samples, and any sample  processing issues that you encountered.

- Results:   
    -- table(s) of all data collected
    -- complete calculations (show all work)*  
* this can be submitted in hand-written format, as an appendix, if desired
-- appropriate graphs/ charts of data.

- Summary: interpretation of results and comment on results compared to expectations for the sample(s)


The PowerPoint must be submitted in electronic PP format, appropriately named (use your last name in the file name!) and functional as a slide show.  Focus on making the slides visible and readable to your audience (not too much text on one slide, and a minimum font size that is visible, when projected, at the back of the room.