This course explores the physical and chemical nature of soil as well as the relationships between soil, plants, animals and agricultural practices. Students will examine properties of soil and land and their connections to plant and animal production. Using knowledge of scientific protocols as well as course content, students will develop an Agriscience research program to be conducted throughout the first semester of the course.To complete that whole project each student will investigate and test an Agriscience research question by formulating a scientific question related to the course content, formulating a hypothesis based on related research, conducting an experiment to test the hypothesis, collecting quantitative data, and forming a conclusion based on analysis of the data. The result of this research program will be an in depth research and experimentation paper that is technically written, based on scientific protocol, and cited using APA formatting. Additionally, students will develop and present a capstone soil management plan for agricultural producers, using the content learned throughout the course.
Next Generation Science Standards Resources:
UCCI Agriculture and Soil Chemistry Resources:
This introductory unit will focus on proper methods of agriscience inquiry. Through a series of mini-lab experiences based on the course content, students will learn to ask questions and define problems, conduct research to form a hypothesis, determine the experimental design and conduct experimentation, analyze and interpret data, develop conclusions and then communicate their findings in lab reports. Not only will the students learn to utilize proper scientific method protocol through conducting these mini-labs, they will also learn what topics will be taught throughout the year in order to guide them in selecting the problem/question for their individual Agriscience Project. Through these mini-lab experiences and unit content, students will be provided with the skills and knowledge to successfully establish the idea they will pursue in their Agriscience Project. By the end of this unit, students will complete the Agriscience Project Research Proposal for their on-going science experiment that will be conducted throughout the first semester of the course.
Students will use the methods of scientific inquiry, developed in the previous unit, to investigate the composition of the physical world, and discover how matter and energy change forms through biogeochemical cycles. Students will understand where soil originates by investigating the role of the rock cycle in soil formation. Students will learn how the electron configurations of different elements, present in the parent material, give them unique physical and chemical properties, and will further investigate how these properties impact soil characteristics. Students will identify how the climate, weather, and environment impact the soil properties, and will examine the role erosion plays in soil science. Students will collect soil samples from a variety of sources, and will use industry methods to determine the chemical composition of the soil and how this composition affects its physical and chemical characteristics. Students will connect to prior knowledge of life science by looking at how biotic factors impact soil type, composition and texture through investigation and experimentation. Students will use the results of their soil testing and the locations from which they took their samples to create a soil map of their local area. Students will compare their map to existing soil maps and analyses, and analyze the similarities and differences with the previous research.
Using knowledge accessed from previous units on the physical and chemical properties of soil, students will analyze how the water cycle impacts soil based on its soil type (sand, silt, clay) soil location (geographic and topographic), vegetative state and natural slope of land. In order to understand how water becomes available for plant growth, students will explain the movement of water through soil with respect to how intermolecular forces impact percolation, capillary action, pore size, cohesion and adhesion. Furthermore, students will address how the concentration of organic matter in soil impacts the movement of water. Students will explain the impact that soil has on the quality of their water and will use water analysis tests to determine the safe and appropriate levels for potable water. Students will also be able to provide solutions to possible contaminations and/or toxic levels of residues/nutrients in the water samples. Students will determine how different irrigation, tillage and planting practices will impact the soil and surrounding area by testing water quality, pH and checking for possible contaminants due to leaching. Students will determine proper and efficient irrigation practices based on the chemistry behind the soil and the way water moves through the soil particles. Students will use GPS to enable students to more accurately analyze watersheds in their area and rationalize how the drought can impact both water quality and quantity as well as soil composition.
Building on knowledge acquired from the previous units on the physical and chemical properties of water and soil, students will begin to determine the effects of plant, soil and water interactions with respect to maintaining or restoring environmental health and structure. Students will model how nutrients cycle through the environment, analyze how pH affects nutrient availability by changing chemical equilibrium, determine water holding capacity with respect to water availability for plant growth, and identify possible nutrient deficiencies based on plant observations. Students will apply this learning to developing knowledge of soil nutrients and their role in the environment by testing and analyzing soil samples for optimal soil structure, nutrient value and availability and determining possible soil amendments and practices to improve soil quality.
Using knowledge from previous units about soil nutrient content, students will identify the key macrominerals and microminerals necessary for normal livestock growth and reproduction. The students will correlate the minerals present in soil with the nutrient content of typical livestock concentrate and roughage feeds. Using local resources, the students will identify mineral deficiencies or toxicities in the soil and relate the deficiencies or toxicities to livestock health. Students will identify crop and range management practices to improve the nutrient content of soil, and will explain what reactions take place at the molecular level to improve nutrient content. Students will identify various methods of using animal waste and the environmental impacts including the use of animal waste as soil amendments and fertilizers. Students will relate the units of concentration used in agriculture practice to units used in chemistry labs, as they identify problems and contaminants associated with livestock waste disposal and related health and safety regulations.
Based on the accumulation of knowledge, examples and research conclusions from throughout the year, students will develop an understanding of sustainable agriculture by employing a Sustainability evaluation tool, “The 3-Pillars of Sustainability, economic, environmental and social impacts" of agriculture. Students will critically evaluate and justify perspectives and determine benefits/concerns based on research and credible information. Students will investigate and evaluate the sustainability of agricultural practices. Students will design and conduct a phytoremediation lab to analyze the efficacy of salt tolerant accumulators to remove saline from the soil. Students will formulate potential solutions using the three pillars of sustainability to soil and land management problems based on agricultural scenarios and debate agricultural issues.
As the final course capstone project, students will be given a scenario and soil sample designed around their local agriculture industry. The given scenario will provide students with specific information about the topography and climate/rainfall data of the location where the soil sample was collected. Students will use knowledge and skills learned in previous units to physically and chemically analyze the soil sample.Their soil analysis should inclu de the composition and nutrient, pH, and salinity levels.The data collected from their soil sample analysis and the provided land information should be included in the soil management plan that the students create. The student's Soil Management Plan will recommend soil amendments, proper tillage practices, optimal irrigation methods, crop recommendations, and animal use suggestions.Their recommendations and suggestions should be justified in terms of the 3-pillars of sustainable agriculture.
The course portfolio will provide evidence of real-world agriculture application of scientific research done throughout this course.The portfolios will highlight student work from throughout the course to show a progression of learning, experimentation, and application of course content. Items that will be included in the portfolio are student lab reports, the Agriscience Research paper, and their Soil Management Plan.
Students will submit their agriscience research in a written paper, and it will include the following components: problem/purpose, background research, hypothesis, methodology, results/data, and discussion/ conclusion. The paper will be written using skills associated with technical and scientific writing, for example, refraining from the use of personal pronouns or keeping discussion limited to what the research and data suggest rather than personal opinion and bias. APA format will be utilized to reference and cite sources. The project and its findings will be shared with the class in an oral presentation.