The MSc programme Soil Science is intended for students who seek a career as academic professional or scientist whose knowledge of soils and soil processes can be used to improve the sustainability of land use and soil management.
The soil is one of humanity's most important natural resources. Awareness is growing that the soil should be used and managed in a sustainable way, respecting the ecosystem services it provides to life on earth. These ecosystem services include support of plant growth, recycling of waste products and dead organisms, provision of a habitat for organisms and buffering of the hydrological cycle. All over the world, soil functioning is increasingly being threatened by contamination, acidification, improper nutrient management, salinisation, desertification, urbanisation and erosion. Insight into the causes and processes related to soil degradation is essential for the development of optimal, multifunctional, and sustainable land use and soil management. Two specializations are offered in this MSc programme:
- The specialization Soil Quality focuses on chemical and biological soil processes. It deals with soil components, organic and inorganic solids and solutes, soil organisms and plants, and with their interactions. Its objective is to increase understanding of the chemical behaviour, mobility and bioavailability of nutrients and contaminants, and the role played therein by soil organisms and plants. Thus, it contributes to more sustainable management of the soil as a natural resource for plant production and water supply, and as a habitat for soil organisms. Fields of application include soil fertility and nutrient management, soil pollution and soil remediation.
- The specialization Land Science focuses on land inventory techniques and the design of landscape process and land evaluation models on different scale levels, using descriptions of soil processes, Geographical Information Systems (GIS), remote sensing and integrated economic/biophysical models. With these models, scenario studies are conducted on the impact of policy on land use and the environment. The objective is to contribute to more sustainable land use. Topics studied include land use change modelling, modelling of geomorphological processes and landscape development, GIS and remote sensing techniques, and precision agriculture.
After successful completion of this MSc programme graduates are expected to be able to:
- demonstrate a thorough understanding of the soil system and soil processes, which is firmly based on mathematical, physical, chemical and biological knowledge;
- independently formulate and execute research in accordance with academic standards within their field of specialization, thus contributing to the development of the body of knowledge in this field;
- deal with the most important aspects of field observations, experiments under controlled circumstances (laboratory studies) and models;
- apply new concepts as they emerge in the literature;
- scale up or down theories and observations that are related to a specific scale of time and space;
- translate knowledge into simulation and forecasting models, and policy recommendations;
- function in multidisciplinary teams.
Graduates from this programme hold executive and staff positions as researchers, project leaders, consultants, advisers, process or environmental engineers, and commercial managers. Many graduates pursue an international career.
- Soil Quality
- Land Science
Ir Th.M. Lexmond
Ir A.M. Leemans
Chair: Dr E. Hoffland
Secretary: Ir Th.M. Lexmond