NPLK14019U Plant Nutrition and Soil Fertility
MSc Programme in Agriculture
MSc Programme in Environment and Development
MSc Programme in Environmental Science
The course is organized in three major themes:
Theme 1, Soil Fertility: The key-parameters controlling plant nutrient availability in soil, soil organic matter stability, carbon sequestration and emission of greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4 and N2O) from the soil, water and plant system.
Theme 2, Plant Nutritional Physiology: The key-roles of plant nutrients in plant metabolism and how climate change will affect the nutritional status of plants and their ability to resist draught, salinity and acidity stresses.
Theme 3, Fertilization: Inorganic fertilizers and quality of organic manures and other bio-based fertilizers, how to maximize crop nutrient use efficiency and reduce fertilizer derived greenhouse gas emissions.
In the course you will learn about the chemical, physical and biological parameters controlling soil fertility and soil quality and you learn how to relate these parameters to the impacts of climate change.
You will learn how to optimize soil fertility in order to support plant productivity in a changing climate and you will learn about adverse soils conditions such as soil salinity, acidity, alkalinity, drought and flooding.
The possibilities to restore soil fertility under adverse conditions will be presented and a special focus will be given to the challenges related to climate change.
You will obtain detailed knowledge on the functionality of all 14 essential mineral plant nutrients and be able to understand their characteristics and behavior at all key-points, including release from soil aggregates into the soil solution; ion movement; ion uptake in roots; translocation to the shoot, assimilation in the plant tissue and remobilization during plant development. In addition, you will obtain detailed information about their specific roles in plant metabolism and you will learn how to diagnose and chemically analyse the nutritional status of plants.
The course deals with strategies for sustainable management of inorganic fertilizers, organic manures and green manures in order optimize plant productivity, nutrient use efficiency and to reduce nutrient losses to the environment. Focus will also be on how the use of synthetic fertilizers and organic manures may impact climate change, and how potential impacts may be mitigated through best management practices of fertilizers and manures as well as through increased used of bio-based and recycled fertilizers.
The course is mainly focused on temperate plant production systems, but has an international perspective and will also include minor topics within low-input and warmer climate plant production systems.
The course provides important key-competences for all career paths dealing with sustainable management of soil, water and plants in a changing climate. It is fundamental for jobs providing plant and soil based consultancy services for plant producers (agriculture, horticulture and forestry), in public administration or in international organizations dealing with plant production, nature management and sustainability issues, as well as teaching and research at college and university levels.
You will obtain advanced and applicable knowledge on the biological, chemical and physical processes affecting plant nutrient availability and losses of nutrients applied in inorganic fertilizers, organic manures and soil amendments commonly used in modern plant production, and how this affects soil organic matter stability, carbon sequestration and emission of greenhouse gases.
You will obtain in-depth knowledge on the functionality of essential plant nutrients in plant metabolism at all key-steps from the cellular to the whole plant and ecosystem levels. You will obtain contemporary knowledge on how climate change may affect the nutritional status of plants and their ability to resist stress.
You will become capable of evaluating plant and soil nutrient status, to diagnose plant nutrient disorders and to plan fertilization strategies at the crop and field system levels.
You will obtain in-depth knowledge that allow you to:
- Describe the biological and chemical processes affecting soil fertility, with a special focus on processes controlling the availability of essential plant nutrients, soil carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions.
- Describe key-aspects of plant nutritional physiology and the functionality of nutrients in plants, including the effects of climate change and how the nutritional status affects plant resilience to stress
- Describe the effects of fertilization and soil fertility management on crop yield and quality
- Demonstrate an overview on the effects of fertilization on plant growth, nutrient losses and greenhouse gas emissions to the environment
- Evaluate soil fertility and the nutrient status of crops using soil and plant analyses.
- Diagnose nutrient disorders in crops.
- Suggest appropriate and sustainable remediation strategies to restore and optimize soil fertility and plant productivity.
- You will understand the complexity of plant nutrition and soil fertility and you will be obtain the academic qualifications that allow you to navigate within this complexity.
- You will gain competences that allow you to discus and predict how the soil, water and plant system will react when exposed to a range of changes.
A range of literature sources, incl. chapters from text books, review articles and a compendium authored by the course teachers will be use as course literature and made available through the course web-portal.
For Danish students we recommend the following courses:
LBIB10188 Jord, Vand og Planter
LPLB10306 Grundlæggende Plantebiologi
Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.
Each module will start with a 5 min. presentation of the learning objectives of the day. It is followed by a couple of lectures (typically 2 x 45 min) followed by student centered activities, ending with a summary lecture and discussion. The lectures will often deviate from the contents presented in the textbook, in order to introduce the subject from several angles. Consequently it will be difficult to meet the learning objectives for each module, if lectures are not followed on-class.
The student centered activities (theoretical and practical exercises) will be conducted in groups and/or individually. There will also be a few guest lecturers from colleagues in the department. On several full days we will also organize “Research Flashes”, where you will meet selected PhD students who will give some short flash presentations about their research work.
- Theory exercises
- Practical exercises
- 7,5 ECTS
- Type of assessment
- Continuous assessment, 2 x 60 min under invigilationWritten assignment, 24 hours examThe course has continuous assessment within the three major themes (see detailed description of these). Theme 1 and 2 are assessed with 60 min tests without aids and theme 3 is assessed using a 24h exam distributed via Absalon with all aids allowed. The three parts are weighted equally.
- Without aids
- Marking scale
- 7-point grading scale
- Censorship form
- No external censorship
One internal examiner
Oral examination, 20 min, 20 min preparation without aids.
Criteria for exam assesment
The students will be continuously assessed based on outputs within the topics of the three themes of the course. The assessment includes the following elements:
Theme 1: Soil Fertility
The test consists of 30-40 questions within the curriculum of theme 1 - typically as a mixture between multiple-choice, calculations and questions requiring very short and specific answers. The test is without any aids.
Theme 2: Plant Nutritional Physiology
This test will consist of 30-40 short and specific questions/multiple choice questions within the curriculum of theme 2, combined with an extensive use of images of plants suffering from various stresses to be diagnosed. This test is without any aids.
Theme 3: Fertilization and organic manures
A 24-h test where students will be given some specific questions and/or figures to be described, analyzed and interpreted in a short essay (max. 3 A4 pages). Each student will be given individual combinations of questions. The 24-h test can be placed according to student choice and will be sent out by e-mail at the time point agreed upon. Completed essays should be uploaded on Absalon no later than 24-h after the e-mail has been send out.
Each theme will be marked according to the 7-point ECTS scale
(grade values: 12, 10, 7, 4, 02, 00, -3; corresponding to A, B, C,
D, E, Fx, F, respectively. The marks from the 3 themes contribute
equally to the average final course grade. If one output is not
handed in or the test is not completed in time, this will count as
-3. If two or more of the outputs are failed or not completed in
time, the student will overall fail the course, regardless of the
grade in the remaining test. If the average final grade is less
than 2, the student will also fail. Illness on the day of
examination should be reported to the teacher and a doctors
declaration should be requested.