DTM*1300 Turf Soil Principles

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The following description is for the course offering in Fall 2021 and is subject to change. It is provided for information only. The course outline distributed to the class at the beginning of the semester describes the course content and delivery, and defines the methods and criteria to be used in establishing the final grades for the course.

This course covers the basic concepts of naturally occurring soils and constructed rootzones used for turfgrass and landscapes. Physical, chemical and hydrological properties of soils and rootzones are emphasized in how they interact with turfgrass management. In addition, the course introduces primary and secondary nutrients and how soils impact their availability. Specific understanding of rootzones used in golf and sports turf is emphasized.


Teaching Assistant:


Credit Weight:


Course Level:

  • Diploma

Academic Department (or campus):

Department of Plant Agriculture



Semester Offering:

  • Fall

Class Schedule and Location:

Please refer to Web Advisor for class schedule and location.

Learning outcomes:

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  1. have a thorough understanding of the physical, chemical and hydrologic properties of soil;
  2. relate these soil properties and recognize their significance to turfgrass growth and production;
  3. have an appreciation for the variety and characterisitics of natural and constructed soil profiles (i.e.,USGA greens) that relate to the turfgrass industry; and
  4. analyze soil conditions and to develop efficient and environmentally friendly soil management strategies for the turfgrass industry (including aeration and compaction management, irrigation, drainage, nutrient and pH management, organic matter management).

Lecture Content:

Topics to be covered in lectures incude:

  • Functions of soil in turfgrass growth
  • Basic soil description
  • Soil origin and development
  • Physical Properties
    •  texture, structure, pore space, particle density, bulk density, aggregation
    • aggregation, water stability of aggregates
    • compaction and traffic
    • management (aeration, texture/structure modification etc.)
  • Soil Water
    • hydrologic cycle, infiltration, percolation, wilting point, field capacity, water content by weight/volume
    • plant available water
    • soil water movement
    • percolation saturated and unsaturated soils, saturated hydraulic conductivity, water movement in layered soils
  • Water Management - basic principles for irrigation, drainage
  • Constructed Root Zones - materials, USGA specifications, athletic fields, construction techniques
  • Soil Colloids and Reactions - chemical properties of soil organic matter and clay and relation to turf management & Cation exchange capacity, pH, pH measurement and management
  • Soil Biology - organisms, biological processes, organic matter decomposition, composting, nitrogen fixation
  • Nutrient requirements for turfgrass growth - macro nutrients and their cycles (N, P, K)
  • Micro nutrients, Fertilizer materials, composts, biosolids
  • Soil fertility management - soil and plant testing for fertilizer recommendations
  • Application methods and timing
Labs & Seminars:

Students must attend the lab each week. They will study soil principles and analyze their soil sample for characteristics being studied that week. Observations and results will be reported and discussed in their soil report which will be completed as per the assignment schedule. The reports will demonstrate the student’s knowledge and understanding of soil principles and their relationship to turfgrass growth and production and to golf course and athletic field management. 

Course Assignments and Tests:

Assignment or Test Contribution to Final Grade

Question of the Week




Soil Reports


Final Exam


Final examination:

Please refer to Web Advisor for exam schedule and location.

Course Resources:

The following are suggested as potential resources for student reading. However, all necessary material will be provided during the lectures.

Recommended Resources:
  • Integrated Pest Management For Turf  Pub 845, Min of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Brady N.C. and Weill Ray 2009,  Elements of the Nature and Properties of Soils 3rd edition. Prentice Hall, New Jersey.
  • McCarty L.B.  Best Golf Course Management Practices 2nd edition. Prentice Hall, New Jersey
Lab Manual:

Lab Outline will be provided at the beggining of each lab period.

Additional Costs:

Soil Sample - cost $42.00 (cash only - please bring correct change to first lab)

Course Policies:

Grading Policies:

Assignments are to be handed in on the due date in the lecture period.  If students cannot meet the deadline they must discuss the situation with the instructor. Normal penalty of 10% per day will apply unless instructor deems otherwise.

Keep paper and/or other reliable back-up copies of all out-of-class assignments: you may be asked to resubmit work at any time.

Course Policy regarding use of electronic devices and recording of lectures:

Electronic recording of classes is expressly forbidden without consent of the instructor.  When recordings are permitted, they are solely for the use of the authorized student and may not be reproduced, or transmitted to others, without the express written consent of the instructor.

Other Course Information:

University Policies

Academic Consideration

When you find yourself unable to meet an in-course requirement because of illness or compassionate reasons, please advise the course instructor in writing, with your name, id#, and e-mail contact. See the academic calendar for information on regulations and procedures for Academic Consideration:

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University of Guelph students have the responsibility of abiding by the University's policy on academic misconduct regardless of their location of study; faculty, staff and students have the responsibility of supporting an environment that discourages misconduct. Students need to remain aware that instructors have access to and the right to use electronic and other means of detection. Please note: Whether or not a student intended to commit academic misconduct is not relevant for a finding of guilt. Hurried or careless submission of assignments does not excuse students from responsibility for verifying the academic integrity of their work before submitting it. Students who are in any doubt as to whether an action on their part could be construed as an academic offence should consult with a faculty member or faculty advisor.

The Academic Misconduct Policy is detailed in the University Calenders:


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