Soil Microbiome Management

Course CodeBSC310
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Why learning about soil microbiomes is essential:

For achieving high productivity in all farming 
For production of healthy plant stock 
For sustainable production 
For enhanced pasture management 

Lesson Structure

  1. Scope and Nature of the Soil Microbiome
    • Nature of soil
    • Soil Structure & Texture
    • Soil Structure and Porosity
    • Soil Structure Research
    • Topsoil Thickness
    • Nutrient Components
    • Carbon and Nutrient Content
    • Carbon Retention
    • Nitrogen
    • Phosphorus
    • Sulphur
    • Other Important Indicators of Soil Health
    • Acidity (pH)
    • Salinity
    • Environmental Factors Affecting Soil Health
    • Drought
    • Frost
    • Erosion
    • Water Retention
    • Nature of soil Microbes
    • Bacteria
    • Archaea
    • Viruses
    • Fungi
    • Protozoa
    • Scope of the Soil Microbiome
    • Plant-Microbe Relationships
    • Microbe Interrelationships
    • Changes to the Soil Microbiome
    • Key Definitions and Concepts for Understanding Soil
  2. Evaluating the Soil Microbiome Status
    • Measurement vs. Monitoring in Soil Biology
    • Things the Soil Microbiome can Help Measure or Monitor
    • Types of Soil Biological Testing and Analysis
    • Deciding on the Right Type of Test
    • Overview of Different Testing Types
    • Cotton Strip Assay
    • Microbial Activity Using Basal Carbon Dioxide Respiration
    • Microbial Biomass
    • Identification Through Culturing
    • Potentially Mineralisable Nitrogen
    • Biolog Plates
    • Microarrays
    • Community Profiling
    • More Advanced Approaches to the Microbiome: Omics
    • Transcriptomics
    • 16S rRNA
    • PCR
    • PCR-ELISA
    • Bioinformatics
  3. Man’s impact on Microbiome
    • Human Impact on Microbiomes
    • Land Development and Urbanisation
    • Changes in Land Use and Microbial Communities
    • Problems with land development on soils
    • Climate Change
    • Pollution
    • Air Pollution
    • Deposition
    • Precipitation
    • Erosion
    • Microplastics
    • Anti-microbials
    • Antibiotic Resistance
    • Monocultures
  4. Soil Substrates and Additives
    • Soil Substrates
    • Inorganic Substrate Materials
    • Perlite
    • Vermiculite
    • Sand
    • Rockwool
    • Organic Substrate Materials
    • Peat
    • Coir
    • Bark
    • Soilless Substrates and Microbes
    • Substrate Technology
    • Substrate Engineering
    • Substrate Evaluation
    • Novel Technologies used in Substrate Management
    • Tomography
    • Rhizometrics
    • Mini-Horhizotron
    • Rhizometer
    • Inorganic Additives
    • Organic Additives
    • Manures
    • Compost
    • Fungal Additives
  5. Conventional vs Organic soil management
    • Conventional vs Organic Soil Management practices
    • Conventional Practices
    • Soil Carbon Modelling
    • Organic Practices
    • Composting
    • Crop Rotations
    • Cover Crops
    • No Tillage Farming
    • Organic Pest & Disease Control
    • Weed Control
    • Rotational Grazing
    • Livestock Management
    • Biodynamics
    • Biodynamic preparations/sprays
  6. Soil Fertility Management
    • Soil Management Strategies
    • Soil Organic Matter
    • Cover Crops
    • Cocktail Cover Crop
    • Legume Crops
    • Longer Crop Rotations
    • Reduced Tillage
    • Planting Trees
    • Organic Additives
    • Soil Humus
    • Building Soil Humus
    • Humates
    • Composting
    • Animal Manures
    • Microbial Inoculants & Microorganisms
    • Use of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (AMF) Inoculants
    • Specific Inoculums
    • Protozoa Tea
    • Earthworms
    • Inorganic Additives
    • Gypsum
    • Lime
  7. Plant Interactions with the Soil Microbiome
    • Soil Organisms
    • Function of Plant Microbiome
    • Effect of Non-native Species
    • Soil Microbiome and Plants
    • Plant-Soil Feedback
    • Plant-Microbe Associations
    • Examples of Plant-Microbe Associations with Plant Families & Species
    • Effects of Different Microbes
    • Cover Crops & Grapevines
    • Crop Rotations & Microbiomes
    • Types of Cover Crops & Microbiomes
  8. Pest & Disease Interaction with Soil Microbiome
    • Biopesticides
    • Advantages of Biopesticides
    • Biological Control Agents
    • Microbial Pesticides
    • Advantages of Microbial Insecticides
    • Entomopathogenic Fungi
    • Protozoa
    • Bacteria
    • Engineering Microbial Inoculants to Suppress Disease
  9. Soil Regeneration Practices
    • Restoring the soil microbiome
    • Practical Methods Which Benefit the Soil Microbiome
    • Reducing soil disturbance
    • No tillage (Zero Tillage)
    • Advantages of no till farming
    • Controlled Traffic Farming
    • Advantages of Controlled Traffic Farming
    • Increasing crop diversity & ORGANIC matter
    • Alley Farming
    • Cover Crops
    • Mulching & Composting
    • Biochar
    • Increasing soil microbes
    • Microbial Inoculation
    • Plant Breeding and Microbiome Engineering

Aims

  • Describe different ways of identifying and monitoring components of a soil microbiome.
  • Explain a range of human impacts on soil microbiomes.
  • Compare different soil substrates and additives in different soil environments.
  • Compare conventional soil management with organic soil management methods.
  • Describe methods of managing soil fertility with consideration to the soil microbiome.
  • Describe how plants interact with their microbiome in a variety of different situations.
  • Explain different ways that pathogens and pest organisms interact with the soil microbiome.
  • Determine appropriate soil regeneration strategies to boost the soil microbiome.

What this course might lead to: 

  • Work in plant and crop production 
  • Soil science career or study pathways  
  • Work in a production system or environment 
  • Conservation and land management roles 
  • Careers in forestry or mining
  • Managing soils in landscape design or in waste management 
  • Preparing papers or writing on soil management 

Examples of jobs using soil science! 

  • Wetland specialist
  • Watershed or drainage basin technician
  • Hydrologist
  • Environmental technician
  • Soil and water quality specialist
  • Conservationist
  • Agricultural or Crop Consultant
  • Landscaper
  • Farmer
  • On-site land evaluation
  • Soil scientist
  • Research technician
  • Town planner
  • Crop production specialist
  • Research scientist

Recently in land sciences there has been a focus toward how physical and chemical characteristics are affected by a complex community of largely unseen organisms that live within the soil. This has meant people need to develop holistic approach to the health of a soil, and therefore the health of the plants which grow in it. 

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