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Learn about soil with online courses and programs

Soil is complex and dynamic, and it provides a crucial medium for plant growth and various ecosystems. Learn about soil with online courses delivered through edX.

What is soil?

Soil is a mixture of minerals, organic matter, water, air, and microorganisms that forms the upper layer of the Earth’s surface. Everything we grow, or build, relies on the quality of the soil for success. Organic matter in the soil supports plant growth. Topsoil helps ensure that our landscapes don’t wash away. Soil organisms provide us with vital nutrients, and soil profiles inform how we use land.

Soil formation is greatly affected by climate change, and as a natural resource, the soil structure is a vital interest to researchers and developers. The foundations of our lives lie within the health of the soil, so maintaining good ecosystems and promoting soil development will help ensure that our earth remains viable for future generations. As environmental factors continue to shape the land surface, it is important to understand how to best protect and utilize this resource. 

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Soil course curriculum

Whether you are a hobby gardener or want to learn more about one of the planet’s most important natural resources, the topics you can study are almost as vast as soil itself. Course topics may include an introduction to soil fundamentals and classifications, and its various ecosystem processes, or the intricacies of drainage. With sustainable farming practices such as crop rotation and organic farming becoming increasingly important and widespread, studying soil management could help you understand how to build fertile soil for a variety of uses. Further topics may include how plant life and the soil interact, or may investigate erosion and desertification. 

edX offers a variety of educational opportunities for learners interested in studying these topics, as well as a host of other disciplines. A boot camp can provide flexible, hands-on learning for those who want to upskill quickly, while executive education courses are designed for busy professionals. You can also pursue a more comprehensive curriculum in a bachelor’s degree or, for more advanced learners, a master’s degree. Find the right learning path for you.

Explore soil jobs

Studying soil opens up a variety of opportunities, not only in the management of soil, but also in research, conservation, engineering, or consulting. Some careers you could pursue include:

  • Soil scientist: Conducts research and analysis to understand soil properties, composition, and interactions for improved land management and agricultural practices.

  • Agronomist: Advises farmers on crop production techniques, soil health management, and sustainable farming methods to optimize yields and environmental impact.

  • Environmental consultant: Provides expertise on soil quality and contamination issues, offering solutions to mitigate environmental risks and ensure regulatory compliance.

  • Land use planner: Develops strategies for land development and allocation based on soil suitability, ensuring efficient and sustainable land utilization.

  • Geotechnical engineer: Investigates soil characteristics to design safe foundations for construction projects, such as buildings, bridges, and roads.

  • Soil conservationist: Designs and implements strategies to prevent soil erosion, improve water quality, and maintain soil health in agricultural and natural landscapes.

  • Hydrologist: Studies the movement and distribution of water within soil and groundwater systems to manage water resources and assess environmental impacts.

  • Ecologist: Examines the role of soil in ecosystem dynamics, including nutrient cycling, plant interactions, and habitat support for various organisms.

  • Soil microbiologist: Investigates the diverse microbial communities within soil, studying their roles in nutrient cycling, disease suppression, and overall soil ecosystem functioning.

  • Sustainable agriculture researcher: Conducts studies to develop innovative farming practices that enhance soil health, minimize environmental impact, and promote long-term sustainability.

  • Policy developer: Shapes governmental and organizational policies related to soil management, conservation, and sustainable land use practices.

Build your knowledge about soil and contribute to preserving one of earth’s precious resources. Start learning about soil with edX today.