Syllabus query

Academic Year/course: 2017/18

25218 - Soil degradation and pollution

Syllabus Information

Academic Year:
25218 - Soil degradation and pollution
Faculty / School:
201 - Escuela Politécnica Superior
277 - Degree in Environmental Sciences
571 - Degree in Environmental Sciences
Second Four-month period
Subject Type:

1.2. Recommendations to take this course

This subject is offered in the English Friendly form

5.1. Methodological overview

The preferred methodology in the theoretical and practical classes will be affirmative, combining an expositive and a demonstrative method. The expositive method, which is characterized by the communication of concepts, will be used when students do not have prior knowledge that allow participatory debate, or in the case of concepts or relationships requiring a formal precision. The demonstrative method is marked by demonstrating a task or a procedure, and will be used in practice tasks.


For the students, it is recommended as learning methods the interrogative method, by asking the teacher or trying to find answers to his questions, and the active method, becoming the agent of his own formation through personal research, direct contact with reality and experience with the working group in which he is incorporated.

5.2. Learning tasks

1. Theoretical sessions. Expositive and participatory lectures that will be followed by exercises and discussion topics.


2. Seminars and laboratory practices. Demonstrative and interrogative activities essentially aimed to dominate laboratory and field procedures.


3. Field task. Field work carried out during the second half of the course, and focused to the consolidation and expansion of concepts.


4. Non contact activities. Study and application of the topics covered by the schedule, preparation of practices’ reports, conduct of a group work, preparation of exams...

5.3. Syllabus

Theory programme


Block 1. Introduction


1. Types of soil degradation (physical, chemical and biological) and its effects on ecosistemic services. Diagnostic properties of soil vulnerability and auto-depuration. Legal regulation on soil protection, pollution and remediation.


Block 2. Soil degradation processes


2. Water erosion. Rainfall erosivity and soil erodibility. Methods of study of water erosion. Available techniques of erosion prevention and control.


3. Degradation of the soil structure by compaction and surface crusting. Prevention methods. Correction technologies. Prime farmlands and soil sealing.


4. Management of organic matter and carbon sequestration. Recycling of organic waste through agricultural soils and Tecnosols. Carbon stock and transfer. Technical options for carbon sequestration in soil.


5. Contamination by over-fertilization and agrochemicals. Dynamics of nutrients in the soil. Good practices in relation to nitrogen and phosphate fertilization. Characteristics of agrochemicals: persistence and evolution in the soil. Factors and mechanisms of degradation.


6. Contamination by heavy metals. Definition, origin, dynamics in soil, especiation, factors controlling presence and bioavailability. Generic reference values and their interpretation. Legal regulation of heavy metals in soils. Phytoremediation.


7. Organic pollutants. Characteristics and properties. Evolution in soils, processes, types and origin.


8. Rehabilitation or sanitation of contaminated soils. Planning and treatments: 1) physical, chemical and biological; 2) "in situ", "on site" and "off site" treatments. Monitoring of rehabilitation: Ecotoxicology, key concentrations (PNEC and PEC).


Block 3. Soil restoration. Case studies in Aragon


9. Restoration, rehabilitation and reclamation. Fundamentals and main goals. Basic methodological aspects. Spatial and temporal planning. Soil quality indicators.


10. Erosion of badlands in marls. Properties and management of soils developed on marls. Bioengineering applied to the control of erosion.


11. Soils affected by wildland fires. Effects of fire on soil properties. Evolution of plant cover after fire. Soil erosion control and plant recovery techniques.


12. Soils affected by opencast mining. Technosols. Impacts, factors limiting reclamation. Restoration programme.


13. Saline soils. Effects of salts and sodium on plants and soils. Management of saline and sodic soils. Restoration of agricultural saline soils.


14. Conservation agriculture: characteristics, advantages and problems regarding traditional agriculture, evolution and current status. Conservation agriculture vs. traditional agriculture in Spain. Cultivation of olive and vineyard with plant covers.


15. Soils affected by pesticides. The case of lindane. Origin, redistribution and accumulation. Treatment and remediation.


Practice tasks programme


  1. Scientific documentation (with the collaboration of the School library)
  2. Effect of soil physical attributes on seed germination and growth.
  3. Microbial reduction of soils.
  4. Soil organic matter mineralization in aerobic conditions.
  5. Soil pH regulation and management.
  6. Structural stability of soil aggregates.
  7. Soil erodibility (rainfall simulation).
  8. Soil salinity.
  9. Transport of fluid pollutants through soil.
  10. Field trip. Soil conservation and degradation processes in Aragón.

5.4. Course planning and calendar

It is estimated that an average student should devote to this subject, 6 ECTS, a total of 150 hours. This time must include both classroom and non-attendance activities. The student must ensure that the dedication is distributed evenly throughout the quarter.


The basic pattern for classroom and laboratory activities is composed by four weekly hours. Nevertheless, this pattern should be modified by non school days, field trips or by other academic activities. These changes will be announced in classroom and also through the moodle e-learning campus.


Type of activity / Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 Total
5-11 feb 12-18 feb 19-25 feb 26 feb-4mar 5-11 mar 12-18 mar 19-25 mar 26 mar-1 abr 2-8 abr 9-15abr 16-22 abr* 23-29 abr 30abr-6 may 7-13 may 14-20 may 21-27 may 28 may-3 jun 4-10 jun 11-17 jun 18-24 jun 25 jun-1 jul
Comienzo 2º sem 7 (mie)             Festivo UZ 28 mar(mie)  Vac SS Comienzo 29 mar (jue) Fin vac SS 8 abr (dom)     Festivo 23 (lun) No lectivo 30 abr (lun) (Festivo 1 (mar)       Fin periodo clases: 30 may (mie) Comienzo exam 1 jun (vie)       Fin exam 29 jun (vie)
Onsite activity                                           60
Theory 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 1   2 2 1 1 2 2 2 2         28
Problem-solving activities       2                 1 2               5
Laboratory practice   2 2     2 2     2 2 2 1                 15
Group working                                           0
Field trip                             5             5
Face-to-face tutorial         1                     1           2
Assessment                               1     4     5
Off-site activities                                           90
Individual working 7 4 4 4 5 4 4 7 6 4 4 3 5 3 1 4 6 8 4     87
Group working                       2   1               3
TOTAL 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 6 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8     150

5.5. Bibliography and recommended resources

BB Brady, Nyle C.. Elements of the nature and properties of soils / Nyle C. Brady, Ray R. Weil . 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ : Prentice Hall, cop. 2010
BB Brady, Nyle C.. The Nature and properties of soils / Nyle C. Brady, Ray R. Weil . Rev. 14th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J. : Pearson/Prentice Hall, cop. 2008
BB Palmer, Robert G.. Introductory soil science : laboratory manual / Robert G. Palmer, Frederick R. Troeh . - 3rd ed. New York [etc.] : Oxford University Press, 1995
BB Porta Casanellas, Jaime. Edafología para la agricultura y el medio ambiente / Jaime Porta Casanellas, Marta López-Acevedo Reguerín, Carlos Roquero de Laburu . 3ª ed., rev. y amp. Madrid [etc.] : Mundi-Prensa, 2003
BC Agassi, M. (1996). Soil erosion, conservation and rehabilitation. New York: Marcel Dekker
BC Aubert, Georges. La edafología : el suelo en el que vivimos / Georges Aubert, Jean Boulaine . Barcelona : Orbis, D.L.1986
BC Breemen, Nico van.. Soil formation / by Nico van Breemen and Peter Buurman. . 2nd ed. Dordrecht ; London : Kluwer Academic, cop. 2002
BC Buckman, Harry O.. Naturaleza y propiedades de los suelos : texto de edafología para enseñanza / Harry O. Buckman y Nyle c. Brady ; traduccido por R. Salord Barceló ; texto revisado por José Mª Vives de Quadras . Barcelona [etc.] : UTEHA, D.L. 1965
BC Cobertera Laguna, Eugenio. Edafología aplicada : Suelos, producción agraria, planificación territorial e impactos ambientales / Eugenio Cobertera Laguna . Madrid : Cátedra, 1993
BC Dingus, Del. Introductory soil science : laboratory manual / Del Dingus . Upper Saddle River : Prentice Hall, cop. 1999
BC Duchaufour, Philippe. Atlas ecológico de los suelos del mundo / por Philippe Duchaufour ; con la colaboración de Pierre Faivre, Michel Gury ; versión castellana de Ma. Tarsy Carballas Fernández. Barcelona : Toray-Masson, 1977
BC Duchaufour, Philippe. Edafología. Vol.1, Edafogénesis y clasificación / por Philippe Duchaufour; versión española de los doctores Mª Tarsy Carballas Fernández y Modesto Carballas Fernández . Barcelona : Masson, 1984
BC Duchaufour, Philippe. Manual de edafología / por Philippe Duchaufour ; versión española de los doctores Ma. Tarsy Carballas Fernández y Modesto Carballas Fernández . Barcelona [etc.] : Masson, 1987
BC Ferreras Chasco, Casildo. Biogeografía y edafogeografía / C. Ferreras Chasco, C. Fidalgo Hijano . [3ª reimp.] Madrid : Sintesis, D.L. 1991 (reimp. 2009)
BC FitzPatrick, E. A.. Suelos : su formación, clasificación y distribución / E.A. FitzPatrick ; [traducido por Antonio Marino Ambrosio] . [1a. ed., 3a. reimp.] México : Compañía Editorial Continental, 1987
BC Gómez Orea, Domingo. Recuperación de espacios degradados / Domingo Gómez Orea . Madrid : Ediciones Mundi-prensa, 2004
BC Honorato, R. (2000). Manual de edafología. Mexico: Alfaomega
BC Kohnke , H., Franzmeier, D.P. (1995). Soil science simplified. Waveland Press
BC Kubiëna, Walter L.. Claves sistemáticas de suelos : diagnóstico y sistemática ilustrados de los suelos más importantes de Europa con sus sinónimos más usuales / por W. L. Kubiëna ; traducido al español por Ángel Hoyos de Castro . Madrid : Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1952
BC Lacoste, Alain. Biogeografía / Alain Lacoste y Robert Salanon ; versión y adaptación al castellano de J. M. Camarasa . 3ª ed. Vilassar de Mar, Barcelona : Oikos-Tau, D.L. 1981
BC Lal, R., Blum, W.E.H. (1998). Methods for Assessment of Soil Degradation (Advances in Soil Science). New York: CRC Press
BC López Ritas, Julio. El diagnóstico de suelos y plantas : (métodos de campo y laboratorio) / por Julio López Ritas y Julio López Melida. 4ª ed., rev. y amp. Madrid : Mundi-Prensa, 1990
BC Parisi, Vittorio. Biología y ecología del suelo / Vittorio Parisi . 1a. ed. Barcelona : Blume, 1979
BC Pedraza Gilsanz, Javier de. Geomorfología : principios, métodos y aplicaciones / Javier de Pedraza Gilsanz ; colaboradores Rosa María Carrasco González...[et al.] . Alcorcón, Madrid : Rueda, D.L. 1996
BC Porta Casanellas, Jaime. Agenda de campo de suelos : información de suelos para la agricultura y el medio ambiente / Jaume Porta Casanellas, Marta López-Acevedo Reguerín . Madrid : Mundi-Prensa, 2005
BC Porta Casanellas, Jaime. Introducción a la edafología : uso y protección del suelo / Jaume Porta Casanellas, Marta López-Acevedo Reguerín, Rosa M. Poch Claret . Madrid, [etc.] : Mundi-Prensa, 2008
BC Restauración hidrológico forestal de cuencas y control de la erosión : ingeniería medioambiental / [dirección, Filiberto López Cadenas de Llano ; colaboradores, Gonzalo Fernández Tomás...(et al.)] . 2ª ed., rev. y amp. Madrid : TRAGSA : TRAGSATEC : Ministerio de Medio Ambiente : Mundi-Prensa, 1998
BC Robinson, Gilbert Wooding. Los suelos : su origen, constitución y clasificación, introducción a la edafología / Gilbert Wooding Robinson ; traducción de la tercera edición inglesa por José Luis Amorós . 2ª ed. Barcelona : Omega, 1967
BC Rosa, Diego de la. Evaluación agro-ecológica de suelos [recurso electronico] para un desarrollo rural sostenible / Diego de la Rosa. [Libro electrónico]. Madrid : Mundi-Prensa, 2008
BC Soil genesis and classification / S.W. Buol ... [et al.] . 5th. ed. Ames, Iowa : Iowa State Press, 2003
BC Tan, Kim H.. Environmental soil science / Kim H. Tan . 3th. ed. Boca Raton : CRC press, cop. 2009
  Assessing soil contamination. A reference manual 
  Clave para las Unidades de suelos de la FAO (1974) 
  Fotografías de perfiles de suelos 
  International Union of Soil Sciences, IUSS 
  Página de la USDA para usar y aprender su taxonomía (inglés) 
  Páginas de la Universidad de Granada con conceptos muy claros y sencillos y buenas fotos que los ejemplifican y aclaran 
  Sabroso, M.C., Pastor, A. (2004). Guía sobre suelos contaminados. Zaragoza: Gobierno de Aragón 
  Se explican e ilustran suelos difíciles de encontrar en nuestro entorno 
  Sociedad Española de la Ciencia del Suelo 
  World Soil Information 


The updated recommended bibliography can be consulted in: