Learn to manage soils better to improve and sustain the microbiome, in turn improving soil health and productivity.

Course Code: BSC310
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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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

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  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
    • 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
    • Rheometer
    • 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


  • 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. 

Click below to enrol now, or contact us for more information!

Member of the Future Farmers Network

Member of the Permaculture Association

College Member of Complementary Medicine Association assessed to teach a range of areas including Counselling, Nutrition, Natural Therapies.

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

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