SOIL&WAT 3016WT - Soil Ecology and Nutrient Cycling III

Waite Campus - Semester 1 - 2019

The course will provide students with a comprehensive view of ecological interactions in soils. It deals with the interactions between plants, soil and soil organisms, the roles played by soil organisms in decomposition of organic material, nutrient cycling (C, N, P) and stability of agricultural and natural ecosystems. Other topics include food webs, the importance of soil organisms for soil fertility, mycorrhizas and their effects on plant productivity and plant communities, nutrient cycling in various terrestrial ecosystems, root growth and the biology of the rhizosphere.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code SOIL&WAT 3016WT
    Course Soil Ecology and Nutrient Cycling III
    Coordinating Unit School of Agriculture, Food and Wine
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s Waite Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 6 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Assumed Knowledge SOIL&WAT 2500 or SOIL&WAT 2500WT
    Assessment Exam, practical reports, research proposal
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Petra Marschner

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1 Participants in this course will be given an awareness of the importance of nutrient cycling in agricultural and natural ecosystems, the factors affecting nutrient availability and how management will affect nutrient cycling
    2 Students will acquire practical knowledge about common analyses methods to assess nutrient cycling including microbial activity and N and P availability in soils
    3 Students will be able to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources for an in-depth and critical discussion of their practical reports and a research proposal in the field of nutrient cycling in a planned and timely manner
    4 Students will demonstrate the ability to communicate in written form
    5 Acquire awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues related to nutrient cycling in Australia and within a global context


    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    1, 3
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    1, 3
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    2, 4
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    2, 3, 4
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    2, 3, 4, 5
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
    1, 2, 3
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Lecture notes will be uploaded on MyUni prior to the lectures

    Recommended Resources

    For appropriate citations and referencing see Cargill and Belotti 1996 Written Communication Skills, Language and Learning Service, University of Adelaide (available on MyUni)
    Online Learning
    For writing the reports and research proposal use of the following resources for searching for
    keywords, titles, journals and scientific papers
    The Adelaide University library catalogue
    Web of Knowledge

    Note that websites should only be referred to occasionally (less than 10% of citations). Websites
    are not peer reviewed and may contain incorrect information.


    LINK to Plagiarism website
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    Lectures, practicals and tutorials

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    A student enrolled in a 3 unit course, such as this, should expect to spend, on average 12 hours per week on the studies required. This includes both the formal contact time required to the course (e.g., lectures and practicals), as well as non-contact time (e.g., reading and revision).
    Learning Activities Summary
    week lecture topic
    1 C cycle
    2 C + N cycle
    3 N cycle
    4 P cycle
    5 P cycle
    6 Exam 1
    7 Trace element cycle
    8 Roots
    9 Rhizosphere
    10 Mycorrhiza
    11 Microbial Ecology
    12 Exam 2
    Specific Course Requirements
    Attendance of practicals is compulsory.
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    Students work in small groups (2-3 students) in their Practical classes.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment task Task Type Weighting Hurdle
    Yes or No
    Learning outcome
    Practical reports

    Discussion paper

    1, 3, 4, 5

    Yes 1, 2, 4, 5
    Assessment Related Requirements

    Attendance of practicals is compulsory.
    To pass this course you must achieve a final scaled mark of at least 50% and a minimum of 40% in the exam.
    Assessment Detail

    Research proposal

    Students will learn how to research a topic, read appropriate references, define knowledge gaps and outline research that will address the knowledge gap, the latter will develop their problem-solving skills.

    Practical Reports

    There are 3 practical reports covering 9 practical classes. They will be assessed promptly to provide continual feedback to students and a sense of progressive accomplishment in the course. Students will receive written feedback on each of practical reports submitted for assessment.


    There will be two exams in this course, each covering approximately half of the course content. Two weeks before each exam, the students will be given a list of potential questions. Each student will be allocated one question which she/he has to answer in the tutorial one week before the exam. The exam will consist of a subset of the potential questions. Each exam is 18% of the total mark.


    The reports and the research proposal must be submitted by 5 pm of the final date for submission to Petra Marschner as hard copy (Prescott Building, Room 307) or by email.

    The first report must be accompanied by a signed cover sheet available from the course website. The following reports do not have to have a cover sheet

    Assignments must be submitted by their deadline. The course coordinator will not to accept any assignment that a student wants to submit after the assignments for the rest of the class have been marked and feedback provided. Extensions of deadlines may be allowed for reasonable causes. Such situations would include compassionate and medical grounds of the severity that would justify the awarding of a supplementary examination. Evidence for the grounds must be provided when an extension is requested. Extensions of deadlines should be negotiated with the course coordinator (Petra Marschner) before the assignment is due. Extensions will not be provided on the grounds of poor prioritising of time.

    Marked assignments will be returned within 1-2 weeks after submission.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.