Soil and Water Chemistry

Study soil and water chemistry. Learn about the complex interactions of soil and water in the environment and their applications in agriculture, health and environmental management.

Course CodeBSC307
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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This course discusses the interactions between soil, water, and the environment. In the first lesson, you'll refresh your chemistry knowledge, the move on to important geochemical cycles. Once the basics are established, you'll learn about soil structure and classification, the effect of pH and cation exchange capacity, soil sampling, nutrient content and uptake, soil fertility, and more.

In the second half of the course, you'll learn about the hydrological cycle, groundwater and seawater, and drought and its impact. After these basics are established, you'll move on to a discussion of potable water, EC and other chemical testing, and real world applications of water chemistry and human health. The course culminates in a Problem-Based Learning Project, to help cement your learning.

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Soil Chemistry – Introduction
  2. Soil Chemical Properties and Processes
  3. Soil Chemical testing
  4. Soil Chemistry - Applications in Agriculture
  5. Soil Chemistry – Applications in Environmental Management
  6. Introduction to Water Chemistry
  7. Chemistry of Water Sources and Drinking Water
  8. Water Chemical testing
  9. Water Chemistry – Human and Environmental Health Applications
  10. Water Chemistry – Applications in Agriculture Problem-Based Learning Project

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Describe the dominant geochemical cycles on earth.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of basic chemistry including atoms and their components, elements, compounds and chemical reactions.
  • Explain the important chemical reactions occurring in soil and their consequences.
  • Differentiate between different soil fractions with respect to their nature, size and chemical activity.
  • Describe different soil test methods and explain how the test results are used.
  • Explore components of soil fertility.
  • Describe soil chemistry/fertility factors affecting crop growth in different farming environments.
  • Explain ways of improving soil fertility for crop production.
  • Discuss the impact of chemically altering soil vs. cycling and other natural methods.
  • Describe inorganic and organic soil pollutants.
  • Discuss effects on health and the environment.
  • Discuss ways to remediate soils.
  • Outline the components of the earth’s water cycle.
  • Describe the main chemical properties of water.
  • Explain the various ways in which water is classified.
  • Explain the chemistry of different water sources, giving examples of different properties and reactions.
  • Describe different water test methods and explain how the test results are used.

What You Will Do

  • Research redox reactions, then diagram the reductive and oxidative processes in photosynthesis.
  • Discuss the chemical structure of a colour-causing compound.
  • Discuss how hydrogen defines the difference between acidic soil and alkaline soil.
  • Gather soil samples from 3 different locations and perform pH tests on each of the soil samples.
  • Conduct research about costs, operation and application of various types of soil testing equipment.
  • Research tillage, and how it affects all the components of soil fertility and chemical ratios in the soil.
  • Discuss the relationship between carbon and nitrogen in the soil and how nitrogen affects carbon availability.
  • Research pesticide heavy crops in your area, then alternative or low-chemical ways to reduce pests.
  • Research the chemistry of seawater. Draw a diagram representing the oxygen and carbon dioxide movement in seawater.
  • Investigate potable water and potable water treatments.
  • Investigate the relevance of water hardness in agriculture.
  • Research the relationship between EC and pH.

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