September 3 – December 11, 2019

Course Objectives: To introduce the basic principles of soil science pertaining to cultural practices in turf, horticulture, forestry, and landscaping. This course focuses on practical applications rather than theoretical considerations. The aim is to familiarize students with physical, chemical, and morphological soil properties that are important in each of the above-mentioned fields.

  • Instructor: Deborah Henson, Ph.D., CPSS
  • Email: (for emergencies only) For routine correspondence use email within the course website.
  • Text books: Soil Science and Management. E.J. Plaster, Delmar Publ. Co. 4th , 5th , or 6th edition. This text is available through Amazon. (Earlier editions are cheaper!!)

Course Requirements:

Unit Quizzes (bi-weekly): 6, each worth 50 points = 250 points (dropping lowest score) On-Line, Threaded Discussions: 2 each worth 25 points = 50 points Homework Assignments / Problem Sets: 4 each worth 25 points = 100 points

Bi-weekly Unit Quizzes

One quiz will be released every two weeks. You are encouraged to complete the quiz before moving on to the next unit of study. You are only allowed to make ONE attempt at each quiz. Each quiz is timed, and the quiz will automatically close and submit your answers once time expires. Class notes and the textbook may be used during each quiz – but you will not have enough time to “look up” each answer, so it is important that you prepare in advance and study for each quiz. There will be six quizzes total, and the lowest quiz grade will be dropped. Quizzes will remain open until the last day of class in the event you fall behind the recommended schedule.

Threaded Discussions

There will be one set of threaded discussion topics for each third of the course (with a new set every four weeks). I will start several threads on topics related to our class material. You are responsible for responding to at least one of the threads, and posting at least five times over the course of the four week “discussion.” There is no minimum size requirement for each post, but it should be pertinent and thoughtful and directly related to the topic being discussed. You may “spread” your responses across multiple topic threads if you wish, or you may stay on one thread if you prefer. It is important to begin this assignment in a timely manner or there will not be enough time for students to actually “respond” to one another’s contributions.

Homework Assignments / Problem Sets

About every 2 to 3 weeks, I will assign an exercise for homework. Often this will involve some basic mathematical soil science calculations related to our unit of study (e.g., soil texture, bulk density and porosity; soil water content; irrigation and drainage; interpreting soil test results; and fertilizers.)

Students with Disabilities: If you anticipate barriers related to the format or requirements of this course, please discuss this with me so that we can work together ensure your full participation in the course. If you determine that disability-related accommodations are necessary, please register with Disability Services (161 Whitmore Admin. Bldg.) and notify me of your eligibility for reasonable accommodations. We can then plan how best to coordinate your accommodations.

Letter Grading Scale

% of Total Points Letter Grade Points Earned
94 -100% A 376 – 400
90 – 93% A- 360 – 375
87 – 89% B+ 348 – 359
83 – 86% B 332 – 347
80 – 82% B- 320 – 331
77 – 79% C+ 308 – 319
73 – 76% C 292 – 307
70 – 72% C- 280 – 291
67 – 69 % D+ 268 – 279
64 – 66% D 256 – 267
< 64 % F < 256

Behavior Expectations: You are held responsible for keeping up with the instructional materials, taking quizzes at the assigned times, and for proper on-line class behavior. For more information see the complete formal Code of Student Conduct.

Academic Honesty

No form of cheating, plagiarism, fabrication, or facilitating of dishonesty will be condoned in the University community. Academic dishonesty includes but is not limited to:

  • Cheating – intentional use or attempted use of trickery, artifice, deception, breach of confidence, fraud and/or misrepresentation of one’s academic work
  • Fabrication – intentional and unauthorized falsification and/or invention of any information or citation in any academic exercise
  • Plagiarism – knowingly representing the words or ideas of another as one’s own work in any academic exercise. This includes submitting without citation, in whole or in part, prewritten term papers of another or the research of another, including but not limited to commercial vendors who sell or distribute such materials
  • Facilitating dishonesty – knowingly helping or attempting to help another commit an act of academic dishonesty, including substituting for another in an examination, or allowing others to represent as their own one’s papers, reports, or academic works

Sanctions may be imposed on any student who has committed an act of academic dishonesty. Any person who has reason to believe that a student has committed academic dishonesty should bring such information to the attention of the course instructor as soon as possible. Formal definitions of academic dishonesty, examples of various forms of dishonesty, and the procedures which faculty must follow to penalize dishonesty are contained in the Academic Honesty Policy.


This class fulfills requirements for all three of the online programs offered by the University of Massachusetts Stockbridge School of Agriculture in Sustainable Food and Farming: