Course Content and Outcome Guide for CSS 200 Effective Fall 2015

Course Number:
CSS 200
Course Title:
Soils and Plant Nutrition
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Examines soils and plant interrelationships. Introduces soil development and terms, physical, biological, and chemical properties, and the use of organic and inorganic means to provide optimum environment for plant growth. Recommended: MTH 60 or instructor permission. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

Utilizes hands-on labs that allow students to develop skill in testing, analyzing, and making recommendations regarding the soil's ability to provide for plant growth. Soil ecosystems, nutrients and their major cycles, and fertilization are among the areas studied.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon successful completion, students should be able to:

  • Perform field and basic lab tests to determine existing soil properties.
  • Analyze existing soil conditions to determine fertility and capacity to support plant growth.
  • Recommend and make modifications to existing soil conditions to provide for optimum plant growth.
  • Present data, analysis, recommendations and modifications for specific landscape sites in verbal, visual, and written format to clients in a professional manner.
  • Use sustainable practices to protect, correct and improve the health of soils, reducing costs, resource consumption and environmental impact.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

  • Attendance and lab participation
  • Lab worksheets
  • Group Project: measuring and collecting data, analyzing, fertilizer calculations, and making recommendations for fertilizer application and best management practices for landscape sites; presentation to the class
  • Midterm and Final exams

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

  1. Soils role in major life supporting cycles
  2. Origin, development and parent materials of soils
  3. Physical characteristics of soil: texture, structure, consistency, porosity, permeability, color
    • Soil, air and water relationships
    • Soil as a living ecosystem: organisms and their role in soil formation, fertility and plant growth
    • Organic matter, humus and C:N ratios
    • Chemical properties of soil: soil colloids, nutrient adsorption, cation exchange capacity, base saturation,  fertility, and pH
    • Nutrients required by plants, supplied by the soil, nutrient deficiencies
    • Organic and inorganic fertilizers, fertilizer calculations and applications
    • Urban soil conditions, protection and correction
    • Improvement of soil's ability to support plant life