The Department of Soil Science offers over 40 courses at levels ranging from introductory for non-majors, to advanced courses for majors in soils and allied disciplines. Departmental course offerings are periodically revised and updated, and new courses are developed to serve today’s students.

The Department of Soil Science is housed in the Soils Bldg., King Hall, and the Hiram Smith Annex. It is part of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS).

The department’s graduate seminar series each semester focuses on topical issues and provides an exciting forum for faculty and graduate students to exchange ideas and information on a continuing basis.

All faculty members with research appointments advise graduate students enrolled in M.S. and Ph.D. programs.

University of Wisconsin-Madison          Department of Soil Science Course Listing

101 Forum on the Environment (2 cr; spring term) – Dr. Whitman (

Course description: Lectures and discussions about environmental issues. Historical and contemporary environmental impacts of humans on the biosphere. Global futures: population, technology, societal values, resources and prospects for sustainable management.

Crosslisted with: Environmental Studies

Prerequisites: none; open to freshmen

131 Earth’s Soil: Natural Science and Human Use (1 cr; fall term) – Dr. Hartemink (

Course description: An overview of the soils of the world and the grand environmental challenges that face humanity. Soils of the USA and Wisconsin included.

Prerequisites: none

132 Earth’s Water: Natural Science and Human Use (3 cr; spring term) – Dr. Urrutia (

Course description: Water is central to the functioning of planet Earth. As humans increase their impact on Earth’s systems and cohabitants, our understanding of the multiple roles of water becomes critical to finding sustainable strategies for human and exosystem health. This course explores the science of Earth’s hydrosphere, with constant attention to human uses and impacts.       

Crosslisted with: Atmospheric and Oceanic Systems

Prerequisites: none

230 Soil: Ecosystem & Resource (3 cr; spring term) – Dr. Balster (

Course description: Soils are fundamental to ecosystem science. A systems approach is used to investigate how soils look and function. Topics investigated include soil structure, biology, water, fertility, and taxonomy as well as the human impact on the soil environment.

Crosslisted with: Environmental Studies and Geography

Prerequisites: Students who have credit for SOIL SCI 301 may not enroll in this course.

299 Independent Study (1-3 cr; all terms)

Course description: Provides academic credit for research work under direct guidance of a faculty or instructional academic staff member. Students are responsible for arranging the work and credits with the supervising instructor.

Prerequisites: Consent of instructor

301 General Soil Science (4 cr; fall term) – Drs. Soldat & Barak—Lectures (; Dr. Urrutia—Lab (

Course description: Physical chemical and biological properties of soils as they affect soil-plant-water relations, soil classification and suitability for agricultural and other uses.

Prerequisites: (CHEM 103, 109, or 115) and (MATH 112, 114, or 171)

321 Soil and Environmental Chemistry (3 cr., fall term) – Dr. Bleam (

Course description: Undergraduate students majoring in soil science, environmental science, geology and chemistry are the target audiences for this course. The emphasis is chemistry fundamentals in the environmental context. Some topics are not covered in college-level general chemistry: clay mineralogy, ion exchange, and adsorption reactions. This course applies biological chemistry to both natural organic matter and reductionoxidation chemistry. Chemical hydrology and risk assessment are topics professional environmental chemists will likely encounter.

Prerequisites: CHEM 104, 109 or 116

322 Physical Principles of Soil and Water Management (3 cr.; spring term) – Dr. Huang (

Course description: Soil physical properties and interactions as related to soil and water resource management and conservation. Water runoff (leading to soil erosion and surface water contamination); tillage and nutrient management; soil thermal and moisture regimes; solute movement; soil compaction, air and aeration.

Prerequisites: (PHYSICS 103, 201, 207 or 247) and SOIL SCI 301

323 Soil Biology (3 credits; fall term) – Drs. Ruark ( and Macguidwin (

Course description: Nature, activities and role of organisms inhabiting soil. Effects of soil biota on ecosystem function, response to cultural practices, and impacts on environmental quality, including bioremediation of contaminated soils.

Crosslisted with: Plant Pathology

Prerequisites: (BIO/BOT/ZOO 152, or BIO/ZOO 101 and BIO/ZOO 102 and BIO/BOT 130, or BIOCORE 381, 382, 383, and 384) and (CHEM 104, 109, or 116)

324 Soils and Environmental Quality (3 cr.; summer – online only) – Dr. Urrutia (

Course description: Interaction of soils with environmental contaminants and the role of soils in pollution control.

Crosslisted with: Environmental Studies

Prerequisites: CHEM 104, 109, or 116

325 Soils and Landscapes (3 cr.; fall term) – Dr. Hartemink (

Course description: Learn how to read the landscape and understand the relationships between soils, land use and landform. Discuss soil- forming factors, soil processes, soil classification, the 12 soil orders, soil survey and mapping. We will make several field trips and attendance is essential and required.

Prerequisites: none

326 Plant Nutrition Management (3 cr.; spring term) – Dr. Barak—Lecture; Dr. Urrutia—Lab (

Course description: Functions, requirements and uptake of essential plant nutrients; chemical and microbial processes affecting nutrient availability; diagnosis of plant and soil nutrient status; fertilizers and efficient fertilizer use in different tillage systems.

Crosslisted with: Agronomy and Horticulture

Prerequisites: (CHEM 103, 109, or 115 and ENVIR ST/GEOG/SOIL SCI 230) or SOIL SCI 301

332 Turfgrass Nutrient and Water Management (3 cr.; even numbered fall terms) – Dr. Soldat (

Course description: Nutrient requirements of turfgrasses; nature of turfgrass response to fertilization; soil and tissue testing methodology and interpretation; irrigation scheduling; irrigation water quality; use of irrigation and fertilizer to minimize environmental impact; writing effective nutrient management plans.

Crosslisted with: Horticulture

Prerequisites: none

375 Topic Courses

Course description: Special topics on contemporary issues relevant to soil science.

Prerequisites: Consent of instructor

499 Capstone (3 cr.; fall term) – Drs. Balster ( or Ventura (

Course description: A capstone applying independent and team problem solving, critical thinking and oral and written communication skills to issues in soil and environmental sciences.

Crosslisted with: Environmental Studies 600

Prerequisites: Senior standing only; declared Soil Science or Environmental Sciences programs.

523 Soil Microbiology and Biogeochemistry (3 cr., spring term) – Dr. Whitman (

Course description: Transformations of nutrients and contaminants in soils and groundwater by microorganisms: emphasis on enzymatic mechanisms and metabolic pathways. Approaches for analyzing microbial populations and activities including molecular techniques. Applications of microbial activities for bioremediation of contaminated soils and groundwater. Students should have completed one course in either Soil Science or Microbiology to feel comfortable with the course content.

Crosslisted with: Microbiology

Prerequisites: (CHEM 104, 109, or 116) and (BIO/ZOO 102, BIO/BOT 130, or BIO/BOT/ZOO 151); Senior standing

524 Urban Soil and the Environment (3 cr.; odd numbered fall terms – online) – Dr. Balster (

Course description: Many environmental issues related to urbanization are derived from the manipulation of soil. By coupling contemporary literature in urban soils with soil science, students will be able to evaluate environmental issues within the urban environment and provide new ways of remediating their impact.

Crosslisted with: Forest & Wildlife Ecology and Horticulture

Prerequisites: (PHYSICS 103, 201, 207, or 247) and (ENV ST/GEOG/SOIL SCI 230 or SOIL SCI 301 or concurrent)

575 Assessment of Environmental Impact (3 cr.; even numbered spring term) – Dr. Ventura (

Course description: Overview of methods for collecting and analyzing information about environmental impacts on agricultural and natural resources, including monitoring the physical environment and relating impacts to people and society.

Crosslisted with: Environmental Studies

Prerequisites: Junior standing

606 Colloquium in Environmental Toxicology (1 cr. spring terms) – Dr. Pedersen (

Course description: Current topics in molecular and environmental toxicology and problems related to biologically active substances in the environment. Topics vary each semester. Lectures are by resident and visiting professors and other researchers.

Crosslisted with: MET, Entomology, Plant Path, Forest & Wildlife Ecology

Prerequisites: BIO/ZOO 101 or BIO/BOT 130 or BIO/BOT/ZOO 151

621 Advanced Soil and Environmental Chemistry (3 cr.; spring term) – Dr. Bleam (

Course description: Solubility relationships, complex ions, ion exchange and oxidation-reduction reactions in soils.

Prerequisites: CHEM 104, 109, or 116

622 Soil Physics (3 credits; fall term) – Dr. Huang (

Course description: Physical properties of soils. Water retention and transmission in soils. Transport of heat, gas, and solutes. Physical environment of soil organisms and soil-plant-water relations.

Prerequisites: (MATH 104, 109, or 116) and (PHYSICS 104, 202 208, or 248) and SOIL SCI 301

626 Mineral Nutrition of Plants (3 cr.; odd numbered fall terms) – Drs. Barak (

and Spalding

Course description: Essential and beneficial elements, solutions and soil as nutrient sources, rhizosphere chemistry, nutritional physiology, ion uptake and translocation, functions of elements, nutrient interactions, genetics of plant nutrition.

Crosslisted with: Botany and Horticulture

Prerequisites: Graduate student or BOT 500

631 Toxicants in the Environment: Sources Distribution and Fate (3 cr.; spring term) – Dr. Pedersen (

Course description: Nature, sources, distribution, and fate of contaminants in air, water, soil, and food and potential for harmful exposure.

Crosslisted with: M& Environmental Toxicology and Civil & Environmental Engineering

Prerequisites: (CHEM 104, 109, or 116) and (MATH 211, 217, 221 or 275) and (PHYSICS 104, 202, 208, or 248)

695 Applications of GIS in Natural Resources (3 cr.; spring term) – Dr. Ventura—Odd years ( Dr. Silbernagel—Even years (

Course description: Course has four components: 1) Detailed review of GIS concepts; 2) Case studies; 3) GIS implementation methods; 4) Laboratory to provide “hands-on” GIS experience.

Crosslisted with: Landscape Architecture and Environmental Studies

Prerequisites: Geography 377

699 Special problems

Course description: Individual study for majors completing theses for Soil Science degrees as arranged with a faculty member.

Prerequisite: Requires consent of supervising instructor

728 Graduate Seminar (1 cr.; fall and spring terms) – Drs. Soldat ( and Balster (

Course description: Topical oral presentations by guest speakers and graduate students on contemporary concerns and issues involving land and soils.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing

799 Practicum: Soil Science Teaching (1-3 cr.; fall and spring terms)

Course description: Instructional orientation to teaching at the higher education level in the agricultural and life sciences, direct teaching experience under faculty supervision, experience in testing and evaluation of students, and the analysis of teaching performance.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing

875 Special Topics

Course description: Special topics on contemporary issues relevant to soil science.

Prerequisite: consent of instructor

990 Research (cr. vary; offered fall, spring, summer)

Course description: Independent research and writing to complete dissertation requirements.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing

Please see UW-Madison Guide for more information: