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The learning outcomes are to know the soil as a dynamic natural body, based on their physical, chemical and biological properties, submitted to processes of transformation and internal transference, as well as gains and losses. Genetic factors and processes are studied and the role of the soil as natural and agricultural ecosystems is highlighted, as well as the erosion and degradation risks due to natural processes or land use practices. The main classification systems are approached based on the field study of soil pedons and landscape characteristics.


1. SOIL GENESIS AND MORPHOLOGY: functions in the ecossystem; composition; genetic factors; morphology and pedon study.

2. THE MINERAL FRACTION: rocks and primary minerals; genesis of clays.

3. THE ORGANIC FRACTION: soil biomass; OM origin, composition and fractionation; organo-mineral complexes and C/N relationship.

4. PHYSICAL PROPERTIES: texture; structure and agregate stability; mass-volume relationships; consistency; color; atmosphereand soil temperature.

5. SOIL WATER: energy state; caracteristic diagrams and humidity constants.

6. CHEMICAL PROPERTIES: ionic adsorption and exchange; coloidal properties; CEC; soil reaction; buffering power; liming and soil desalinization.

7. SOIL CLASSIFICATION AND CARTOGRAPHY: types of soil classification; Soil Taxonomy and WRB; land use system; soils cartography.

8. SOILS DEGRADATION. Main processes; study methods (USLE); soil conservation techniques; contamination (pesticides, nitrates, phosphates and heavy metals).

Teaching Methodologies

The theoretical classes are supported on prepared ppt presentations and subject discussion and debate is promoted. The course has a laboratory component dedicated to the experimental study of soil properties and relevant parameters: pH, OM, exchangeable cations, texture ans humidity constants.


Caracterização e Constituição do Solo. Botelho da Costa, J., 1991. Fundação Gulbenkian, Lisboa.

PPT’s temáticos elaborados pelo docente/Thematic PPT’s prepared by the teacher.

The Nature and Properties of Soils, 14th Edition. Nyle C. Brady and Ray R. Weil (capítulos selecionados/selected chapters).



ECTS Credits



  • Teóricas - 30 hours
  • Teórico-Práticas - 30 hours

Evaluation Methodology

  • 1st Frequency: 40%
  • 2nd Frequency: 40%
  • Presentation and discussion of work developed in the laboratory: 20%