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Subject : Soil Science (MSc)

Course Duration: 2 years
Course Period : September 2006 - July 2008
Tuition Fee : € 13,820 (composite fee) + € 1,815 (research fee)
Location: Wageningen, Netherlands

The Soil Science programme incorporates the fields of soil formation, chemical and biological soil quality, soil inventory and land evaluation. The Soil Science programme focuses on the description, quantification and prediction of soil processes in relation to soil management, soil quality and the biological conditions of the system or ecosystem. Fundamental disciplines such as chemistry, physics and biology are integrated with modern techniques such as geographic information systems (GIS) and information technology. The interaction between people and the environment is an important aspect of the programme. Students learn to deal with the most important aspects of field observations and models; they will be trained to recognise, understand and apply new concepts as they emerge in the literature. Students can specialise in fields such as chemical or biological soil quality, soil formation and ecopedology, and soil inventarisation and land evaluation. The Soil Science programme is intended for students who want to work as academically-trained professionals or scientists.

There are three specialisations/majors:

Soil quality, focuses on chemical and biological aspects of soil quality, soil chemistry, soil biology, soil pollution, soil fertility and plant nutrition. It concentrates on speciation and transport processes in the soil, i.e. the interactions between soil components, organic and inorganic solids and solutes. The objective is to improve understanding of aspects such as leaching of nutrients, acidity, availability of plant nutrients and pesticides, and to understand how spatial and temporal variability at the system boundary can affect accumulation and transport and how soil biodiversity can be maintained. The scale levels studied range from the microscopic scale to the field scale. The aim of the soil quality major is to train students to study the complex and integrated soil chemical and biological processes so they can contribute to risk assessments, remediation strategies and innovative management policies.

Soil formation and ecopedology, focuses on soil processes related to their position in the landscape and the effects of plants and animals on soils. Topics studied include soil-landscape relationships (such as soil sequences of landscapes), soil-vegetation interaction (such as the formation of vegetation patterns caused by the effects of plants on soils), soil genesis and mineral weathering, soil-climate interaction (such as carbon sequestration in soils due to higher 002 concentrations in the atmosphere), and soil organic matter chemistry and dynamics (such as 130 isotope fractionation and organic chemistry of podzols).

Soil inventory and land evaluation, focuses on land inventory techniques and the design of landscape process and land evaluation models. Scenario studies on the impact of policy on land use and the environment can be conducted using such models. Topics studied include soil survey and land evaluation in the tropics (such as spatially explicit land use change modelling analyses of secondary salinisation of rewashed bess soils in the North China Plain), multi-scale landscape processes (such as modelling geomorphologic processes and landscape development), GIS and teledetection for soil landscape studies (such as defining spatially explicit trajectories for sustainable development), and precision agriculture (such as decision support in a Costa Rican banana plantation). These studies are conducted at the land use system level, the regional level and higher levels.

Admission Requirements:
in agriculture, or related fields (agricultural engineering, soil science).
TOEFL Score of 575 or IELTS 6.5