EARTH321-19B (HAM)

Pedology and Land Evaluation

15 Points

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Division of Health Engineering Computing & Science
School of Science


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Paper Description

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This paper is concerned with the processes and products of soil genesis, models of soil formation, soil classification, the occurrence and spatial variability of soils, and how soils can be mapped using classical and digital techniques including the use of geostatistics, and with methods of land evaluation. Land evaluation is the interpretation of soil and land data in forms applicable to land use planning and management, i.e., the role of pedology in land-use related issues.

The basis of the broad distribution of New Zealand’s soils, and their distinctiveness or otherwise in a global context, are also examined. The basis of the broad distribution of New Zealand’s soils, and their distinctiveness or otherwise in a global context, are also examined

The laboratories 1-5 provide opportunities to engage with a soil-forming process and its impact on soil morphology and other properties (podzolization); quantifying and understanding impact of a selected soil property (nanocrystalline clays and Fe oxides); an exercise to engage with and help understand the “NZ Soil Classification” (NZSC); an exercise to help understand an international soil classification system, “Soil Taxonomy”; and an introduction to the use of GIS in pedology using data related to the evaluation of forestry land in Northland.

One field trip provides an essential core to the paper. The Rotorua trip involves (a) soil stratigraphy and models of pedogenesis in a largely volcanic terrain together with soil characterisation in the field including understanding relationships and useage of genetic horizons, diagnostic horizons, and functional horizons; and (b) application of pedology to understand the science behind the Rotorua Land Treatment System and its effectiveness, as
well as touching on other land use and management including agriculture and forestry, and examining how these relate to specific soil attributes.

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Paper Structure

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The paper is composed of 23 lectures, five 'dry' laboratories, 5 tutorials, and a one-day field trip.
Lecture 1: Wed 9 am I1.05
Lecture 2: Thu 2 pm KG.06 (new room)
Lecture 3: Fri 12 KG.07 (new room)


There are 5 labs in total, as listed below.


These will be held from time to time in the normal lecture time/place as specified in the schedule/timetable.

Field trips:

Rotorua field trip to Mamaku-Rerewhakaaitu-Rotorua will be held in the last week of the August recess on Thursday 29 August (full-day) (precedes the Awakino trip for EARTH312-19B from Friday 30th Aug-Sun 1 Sep).

The field trip is an essential component of the paper and assessment.

The paper is supported by learning resources accessed via Moodle, and printed lecture manual, lab manual, and field trip guide are available for
purchase from the Waikato Print Shop.

Field trip and laboratory exercises are essential. All students must attend and a roll will taken

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Learning Outcomes

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Students who successfully complete the course should be able to:

  • Overview
    Students should develop advanced skills to accurately describe soil morphology and to classify soils using NZSC and Soil Taxonomy, widen their field experience and understanding of soils and associated landscapes in Waikato–Bay of Plenty, improve understanding of soil genesis and of the processes involved, gain an understanding of the importance of pedology in landuse related issues in the region, understand the principles of mapping soils or soil properties and quantifying their spatial variability, and write reports.
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • 1. Describe the origins and development of the discipline of pedology and its role in geosciences and linkages with land evaluation.
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • 2. Describe the formation of soils (pedogenesis) using three conceptual models including key concepts of topdown and upbuilding pedogenesis within a framework of soil stratigraphy.
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • 3. Describe a wide range of physical, biological, and chemical (including mineralogical) processes operating in soils and their manifestation (products) in soil profiles/pedons.
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • 4. Describe the difference between pedological, diagnostic, and functional horizons morphologically and their role and application in classification and Smap
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • 5. Classify soils using New Zealand Soil Classification to family level and Soil Taxonomy to subgroup level.
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • 6. Describe how the distribution of soils may be mapped using soil landscape modelling, classical soil surveying, and digital mapping techniques.
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • 7. Describe methods of land evaluation used in New Zealand including land use capability survey, soil versatility assessment, and ecosystem service quantification.
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • 8. Describe the application of pedology to a range of landuses and to inform land and environmental management.
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • 9. Communicate effectively through written reports.
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  • 10. Analyse and interpret field and laboratory data appropriate to pedology and its application to land evaluation
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • 11. Describe some soil investigation methods in the laboratory including soil mineralogical and other analytical techniques, and the interpretation of analyses acquired using these techniques.
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • 12. Describe at fundamental level GIS application in pedology and land evaluation.
    Linked to the following assessments:
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Requirements for laboratory and field work assignments are provided in the guides. The format of the tests, and pre-test quizzes, will be given at tutorials.

Assessed work consists of (a) Rotorua field trip report, (b) 5 laboratory exercises, (c) test 1, (d) test 2,
and (e) the final exam. Due dates for assessed work are provided in the schedule.

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Assessment Components

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The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 60:40. There is no final exam. The final exam makes up 40% of the overall mark.

The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 60:40 or 0:0, whichever is more favourable for the student. The final exam makes up either 40% or 0% of the overall mark.

Component DescriptionDue Date TimePercentage of overall markSubmission MethodCompulsory
1. Rotorua field trip report
30 Sep 2019
5:00 PM
  • Hand-in: Faculty Information (FG Link)
2. Lab exercises 1-5 (see schedule for hand-in dates)
  • In Class: In Lab
3. Test 1
13 Sep 2019
12:00 PM
  • In Class: In Lecture
4. Test 2
10 Oct 2019
2:00 PM
  • In Class: In Lecture
5. Exam
Assessment Total:     100    
Failing to complete a compulsory assessment component of a paper will result in an IC grade
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Required and Recommended Readings

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Required Readings

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Required texts
Please note that I revise and update lectures each year but the printed lectures in the guide may be modified further during the paper. Consequently, you may need to add or modify material after each lecture (a blank sheet of paper is inserted between each lecture for adding notes if needed).

These texts will be needed:

Study guide for EARTH321-19B (compilation of lectures)

Lab manual for EARTH321-19B

Guidebook for the Rotorua field trip EARTH321-19B

These will be available for purchase from the Waikato Print Shop. You must purchase and bring the lab manual to the first and subsequent labs. Note that the printery 'prints on demand' and so you need to give at least 24 hour notice (i.e. you should order/purchase the lab manual in week 1, well before you need it for the first lab on Tue 16 July). Similarly, the Rotorua field trip guidebook must be ordered/purchased well before the field trip on Thursday 29 Aug (which is near the end of the second week of the Aug recess).

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Recommended Readings

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  • R. Schaetzl & M. Thompson Soils: Genesis and Geomorphology (Cambridge) 2nd edition; one copy has ‘Not for loan’ status in Library.
  • D. Milne et al. Soil Description Handbook (Manaaki Whenua Press) revised (2nd) edition.
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Other Resources

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Class sets

All students will be provided with copies (on loan) of:

  • A.E. Hewitt New Zealand Soil Classification 3rd edition
  • T.H. Webb and L.R. Lilburne Criteria for Defining the Soil Family and Soil Sibling– the Fourth and Fifth Categories of the NZ Soil Classification
  • Soil Survey Staff Keys to Soil Taxonomy
  • D.J. Lowe (compiler) Guide to Pedon Description including Clayden and Hewitt Horizon Notation for NZ Soils (in single booklet)

These text books must be returned in good order at the completion of the paper. Failure to return them may result in penalties.

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Online Support

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Online support will be provided via Moodle, which is accessible to all students who are enrolled in the paper.

Email messages will usually be sent via Moodle. Please note that the email address you provided for Moodle is the one we will use for communication.

Note that the lecture and field trip and laboratory files are subject to copyright and are for use only by students enrolled in this paper in 2019.

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There are 23 lectures, 5 tutorials, a one-day field trip, two tests, and five 2-hour practical (dry lab) sessions.

The workload for each item should relate broadly to the value of the assignment but is largely an individual choice. A 300-level 15 point paper in any of the science subjects offered by the University of Waikato typically involves around 50 hours of supervised study and it is assumed that up to 100 hours will be spent in private study by an ‘average’ student.

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Linkages to Other Papers

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This paper complements EARTH322 ("Soil and water managgement"). Together these 321 and 322 papers provide 30 points covering many aspects of soil science in the field and lab, and its application. They lead on to specialist papers in soil science at graduate level, namely EARTH502 "Land and soil - resources and risks" and ENVSC503 "Terrestrial ecosystem-atmosphere exchange process".
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Prerequisite papers: ERTH233 or ERTH234 or EARTH221




Restricted papers: ERTH333

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