Assignment 2 is worth 20% toward your grade in this course. This assignment provides you with the opportunity to investigate the concepts and theories related to soil formation, soil properties, heal

Assignment 2 is worth 20% toward your grade in this course.  This assignment provides you with the opportunity to investigate the concepts and theories related to soil formation, soil properties, health and fertility in Part A (worth 30 marks). In Part B (worth 20 marks) you will examine human impacts on soils through the limitations of current agricultural practices and investigate current research to enhance sustainable practices in developing nations that can improve food security while also addressing climate change.

In particular, by completing the assignment you will:

·     demonstrate knowledge of the key concepts in soil formation and links to the provision of environmental goods and services;

·     examine the challenges that result from current agricultural (and other) practices in both developed and developing nations that are degrading the qualities of soils; and

·     consider new sustainable strategies that offer solutions to these problems.

Your assignment should include your name and student number, within a target of 5 to answer the questions; and it MUST include in-text citations as well as a reference list at the end of your assignment.  You can use paragraphs/point form but must be full sentences to answer each question.  Remember that the assignment is worth a significant value (20% toward your course total) and therefore you will be evaluated on the completeness of your answers.  You should therefore spend time to ensure that you’ve provided a complete and robust answer, and include at least 5 references based on your own independent research.  (The textbook, recommended websites listed in the assignment, and on-line class notes do not contribute to these 5 references).

In completing the assignment, be sure to provide reference sources for your information to avoid plagiarism by using a standard citation system as described in the following:

Note that you should use APA style in referencing.  Scientific style in writing does not include quotations.  You must summarize technical information in your own words.  If you copy and paste information from a source and/or do not provide in-text citation, you will receive a grade of “0” for the assignment and you will face academic misconduct investigations.  Be sure that you summarize information in your own words AND cite your reference to avoid these problems.

Part A.   Soil Formation, Soil Properties, and Determination of Fertility  (30 marks)

Review concepts of soil properties, the processes involved in soil formation, and features of the productive soils.  

Based on your independent research, answer the following questions.  (Remember that you are evaluated on the completeness of your answer.  Don’t forget citations):

1.          How do soils form?  How does climate influence these processes, and give examples?  (10 marks)

2.          Describe the key (structural and functional) properties of soils that contribute to their productivity for agriculture (10 marks)

3.          Outline the features of a soil food web and illustrate by providing examples.  Describe the relationship that exists between above ground plant  biomass with the below ground soil community.  What are the ecological goods and services provided by a healthy community of soil organisms? (10 marks)

Part B.  Alternative Agricultural Practices and Restorative Ecology (20 marks)

Humanity needs to overhaul agricultural approaches if we are to feed an exploding population while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change.  Researchers have concluded that agriculture and landscape alterations contribute at least 20% to the emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide.  We often think of fossil fuel combustion as a major culprit in climate change, but we need to also consider the multitude of changes that occur in soil processes.  Our alterations to landscapes have been major drivers to desertification and deforestation but also have increased the loss of much of the native prairie landscape across North America.  Today we speak about the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from poorly managed soils rather than the role it has held as a carbon sink over past millennia.

In your research, consider current practices in agriculture and the possibility that it could contribute to carbon capture and sequestration (CCS).  In short, you will contemplate how agriculture can be a tool that can be used to fight against climate change.

Review the following website and watch the videos that introduce the topic of carbon sequestration in soils

·       The”4 per 1000″ Initiative – and

1.     Describe the inefficiencies in current subsistence and industrialized farming practices around the world.  Be specific (10 marks)

2.     Pick a developed country as well as a developing nation and explore the modifications in agricultural practices that could offer opportunities to combat climate change.  (10 marks)

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