In Matthew Evans’ book ‘Soil’ he writes that ‘What we do to the soil, we do to ourselves’. This course aims to give you as property managers, farmers and producers a better understanding of soil health. We will look at how it is made and how it can be built, why it is so fundamental in ensuring we grow nutritional food, why improving soil can help mitigate climate change, and how an understanding of soil can become an understanding of what we do to ourselves.

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Learning Outcomes

By the end of this online course you will be able to:

  • Describe the different components of soil
  • Understand soil texture and structure classifications
  • Describe how water behaves in soil and why
  • Understand soil chemical principles such as pH and CEC
  • Understand soil health issues such as salinity and dispersion
  • Understand where plant nutrients come from and their forms in soils
  • Understand the main biological components of soil and their roles
  • Know what soil tests are available
  • Develop strategies for improving soil health

Below you will see the course content. When you are ready, begin the course with the introduction. Once you have read through this click on ‘Next’ to move to the next lesson.

General Resources:

  • Soil Health for Farming in Tasmania, Bill Cotching 2009
  • Building Soils for Better Crops, Third Edition (2010) Magdoff & Van Es
  • The Soul of Soil: A Soil-builders Guide for Master Gardeners And Farmers, Fourth Edition (1999) Gershuny & Smillie
  • Secrets to Great Soil, (1998) Elizabeth P. Steel
  • The film - Symphony of the Soil
  • Fertile Soil: A Grower’s Guide to Organic & Inorganic Fertilizers. (1990) Parnes, Robert


Key resources for soil biology are: 

  • Soil biological fertility: A key to sustainable land use in agriculture (2003), edited by Lyn  Abbott & Daniel Murphy. 
  • Teaming with Nutrients: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to Optimizing Plant Nutrition,  (2013), by Lowenfels  
  • Soil Microbiology, Ecology and Biochemistry, Fourth Edition (2015) Edited by Eldor A. Paul
  • Organic Matter and Soils: Soil Series. (1993) CSIRO Kandreck, Kevin
  • Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web, Revised  Edition (2010) by Jeff Lowenfels (Author), Wayne Lewis