JORD330 Soil Health and Sustainable Soil Management

Credits (ECTS):10

Course responsible:Susanne Eich-Greatorex

Campus / Online:Taught campus Ås

Teaching language:Norsk, engelsk

Limits of class size:20. Check "Note".

Course frequency:Annually

Nominal workload:250 hours

Teaching and exam period:The course starts in the autumn parallell and have education and exam in the autumn parallell.

About this course

Soil plays an important role in many of the health-related and environmental challenges facing the world. We are becoming increasingly dependent on soil ecosystem services, which demand a sustainable management of soil resources. In this course, you will learn about why and how much soil health is important for maintaining, improving or restoring soil ecosystem services. Starting from a range of soil functions, you will learn how, through agronomic management methods, one can impair, improve, maintain or restore soil health.

Emphasis is placed on understanding how soil chemical, physical and biological factors are related to and affect soil health. You will get insights into threats to soil health and soil quality and how soil functions can be maintained in agronomic systems. The function and effect of organic material, biological activity and diversity in soil, as well as nutrient supply and tillage seen in the light of sustainability are important topics that will be addressed. The course uses case studies, simple modelling and visualization tools to illustrate the effects of agronomic measures. We will also discuss various agronomic concepts, e.g. organic agriculture, agroforestry, permaculture, regenerative agriculture with regard to how they affect soil health.

Learning outcome

Having passed the course, the students will have obtained the following knowledge, skills and competence:


The student shall be able to explain and apply knowledge of physical, chemical and biological processes in soil to analyse the effects of various agronomic measures, as well as combine and evaluate strategies for sustainable management of agricultural soil. The student shall also be able to interpret and evaluate soil analysis data with regard to soil health and the soil’s ecosystem functions.


The student shall be able to identify and analyse problems and suggest solutions, based on both previously acquired and newly gained relevant knowledge. This involves critical thinking, analysis and interpretation of information, and the application of academic knowledge to practical problems. The student shall be able to make use of scientific knowledge in presentations and discussions.

General competence

After completing the course, the student shall be able to promote the necessity of good soil management to secure both cultivation potential and other soil functions in Norway and globally. The student shall be able to collaborate with people with different backgrounds and levels of knowledge to propose the best management solution.

  • We facilitate the use of many different learning activities, where the students' own activity, individually and in groups, is central. Key topics related to soil health, soil functions and ecosystem services will be presented by the course teachers and invited guest lecturers, but also by the students themselves. The course participants' different background, knowledge and interest will be used as a strength in teaching activities to increase learning outcomes.

    The students will be trained in the interpretation of scientific data; for this we use long-term experiments at NMBU's experimental fields at Kjerringjordet. Various case studies have been developed / designed to illustrate the connection between different agricultural measures / management methods and soil quality and health. These case studies will also facilitate a discussion of the concepts of sustainability in relation to various soil ecosystem services. Simple modelling tools can be included in the course for better visualization and understanding of the effects of various agronomic measures. Active participation of all course participants in discussions is facilitated as a preparation for similar situations in working life.

  • Weekly meetings in plenary with lectures, student presentations and discussion. Continuous individual or group supervision takes place on the students' initiative, either in class, during office hours or via the internet.
  • JORD230 or the combination JORD200 / MILJØ200.
  • Oral examination:

    Individual oral examination with preparation time

    Grading system: A-E/Not passed.

  • An external examiner approves the course program and participates in the oral exam at the end of the term.
  • Three presentations of a course-related scientific topic and participation in discussion

    A minimum attendance of 80% of the classes.

  • Students who want to take the course must apply for admission in Studentweb no later than August 31st. After that, the places in the course will be distributed.
  • Structured work and lectures, presentations and discussions: 60 hours (5 hours / week), group work and individual study: 190 hours
  • The course overlaps 10 ECTS against PJH300
  • Special requirements in science