Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences
With the world’s population now approaching 7 billion people, and expected to exceed 9 billion within 30 to 40 years, the demand for food is expected to double. Therefore, our ability to sustainably produce plants for food and aesthetic purposes is more crucial now than ever before. If you want to become a scientist with the skills and knowledge to grow crops or turfgrass to provide for human needs and improve environmental quality, then the Crop and Soil Sciences major at Virginia Tech is for you!
In the CSS program, students learn the fundamentals of plant science and improvement, and soil and environmental stewardship for feeding the world, protecting the environment, and producing quality turfgrass. As a student majoring in Crop and Soil Sciences, you can count on quality academic programs relevant for today and tomorrow, opportunities for involvement and experience, and individual and personal attention from our award-winning faculty and staff. Our programs offer the rigor, flexibility, and practical knowledge that will help you succeed regardless of the path you choose. You will learn the fundamentals of soil, plant, and environmental sciences to prepare you for your career.
Students in this option concentrate on the biology and increasingly complex technology of food, feed, fuel, and fiber production. Graduates typically move into farming or into sales, consulting, and managerial positions that directly and indirectly support agricultural production, a most vital component of the world's economy.
Crop Genetics and Breeding Option
Producing better quality and higher yielding crops has been a long-standing objective of crop breeders. New techniques of genetic engineering are now being brought to bear on crop improvement. Students in this option learn the newest methods of molecular biology and are well prepared for careers in research and industry.
International Agriculture Option
The world's ever-expanding population must be fed; at the same time, we must be good stewards of the Earths resources. Many countries have not been able to bring food production and resource conservation into balance. Students in the International Agriculture option are interested in finding simultaneous solutions to these concerns. Employment opportunities exist with various private and public agencies.
Turfgrass Management Option
Using basic principles of the natural sciences and agricultural technology, turf managers have skills that make them highly employable in golf-course management, athletic and recreational fields, lawn maintenance services, the landscaping industry, and sod production.
Requirements for a Major
All the curricula for the various options contain a core of courses to assist the student in developing knowledge and ability in basic sciences (biology and chemistry), computational skills (mathematics and statistics), communication skills (both writing and speaking), as well as crop, soil, and environmental sciences. A list of courses specified for each option may be obtained upon request from the department or at www.registrar.vt.edu. In the following listing, semester hour credits are shown at the right.
|Core Curricular Requirements (All Options)
|Creativity and Aesthetic Experience
|Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences
|Ideas, Cultural Traditions, and Values
|Some Option-Specific Course Requirement and Electives
|Agricultural and Applied Economics (in addition to above)
|Biology (in addition to above)
|Chemistry (in addition to above)
|Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences (in addition to above)
|Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science
|Total Credits for B.S. Degree (minimum)
The graduation requirements in effect at the time of graduation apply. When choosing the degree requirements information, always choose the year of your expected date of graduation. Requirements for graduation are referred to via university publications as “Checksheets”. The number of credit hours required for degree completion varies among curricula. Students must satisfactorily complete all requirements and university obligations for degree completion.
The university reserves the right to modify requirements in a degree program. However, the university will not alter degree requirements less than two years from the expected graduation year unless there is a transition plan for students already in the degree program.
Please visit the University Registrar website at http://www.registrar.vt.edu/graduation/checksheets/index.html for degree requirements.
Requirements for a Minor
The department offers minors in crop and soil environmental sciences, turfgrass management, environmental science and wetland science. The requirements for each include CSES/ENSC 3114 and 3124 (or 3134) and 15 or 16 more credit hours selected from courses from within and outside the department. Consult the department office (238-C Smyth) or web site (www.registrar.vt.edu) for more information on a minor.
By the end of the academic year in which the student has attempted 60 hours (including transfer, advanced placement, advanced standing and credit by examination) "satisfactory progress" will include meeting the following minimum criteria:
- having a grade point average of at least 2.0
- passing at least 24 semester credits that apply to the Curriculum for Liberal Education
- passing the following:
CHEM 1035, 1036, 1045, 1046
CSES 3114 and 3124
6 hours of MATH and/or STAT
- declaring an option within CSES
Opportunities to Excel
Students with outstanding records can qualify for the Honors Program and graduate "in honors" in crop and soil environmental sciences. Other opportunities for personal and professional growth and for recognition include department-sponsored agronomy and turf clubs, membership in Alpha Zeta and Gamma Sigma Delta or other honoraries, and several scholarships. B.S. graduates are certifiable in the professional registry of the American Society of Agronomy.
Graduate courses and research opportunities lead to M.S. and Ph.D. specializations in the crop, soil, and environmental sciences. (See the Graduate Catalog for more information.)
Undergraduate Course Descriptions (CSES)
2434: CROP EVALUATION
Identification of more than 200 crops, weeds, seeds and crop diseases. Seed testing for purity according to the rules of the Association of Official Seed Analysts. Crops graded according to the official USDA grain grading standards. (6L,2C)
2444: AGRONOMIC CROPS
An introduction to crop production in Virginia, presenting basic climatic, crop, and soil characteristics and their relation to cropping systems. Introduces basic mechanical, chemical, and managerial tools of crop production and examines feed quality and seed and forage storage. (3H,3C)
2564: TURFGRASS MANAGEMENT
Growth, development, adaptation, and selection of the major turfgrass species. Principles of establishment, mowing, nutrition, irrigation, cultivation, and pest control of lawns and utility turfs. Co: BIOL 1105. (2H,3L,3C)
2964: FIELD STUDY
Variable credit course.
2974: INDEPENDENT STUDY
Variable credit course.
2984: SPECIAL STUDY
Variable credit course.
2994: UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH
Variable credit course.
3114 (ENSC 3114) (GEOS 3614): SOILS
Characterization of soils as a natural resource emphasizing their physical, chemical, mineralogical, and biological properties in relation to nutrient availability, fertilization, plant growth, land-use management, waste application, soil and water quality, and food production. For CSES, ENSC, and related plant-and earth-science majors. Partially duplicates 3134. Pre: CHEM 1036. Co: 3124. (3H,3C)
3124 (ENSC 3124) (GEOS 3624): SOILS LABORATORY
Parent materials, morphology, physical, chemical, and biological properties of soils and related soil management and land use practices will be studied in field and lab. Partially duplicates 3134. Co: 3114. (3L,1C)
3134 (ENSC 3134): SOILS IN THE LANDSCAPE
A study of soils as functional landscape components, emphasizing their physical, chemical, mineralogical, and biological properties in relation to plant growth, nutrient availability, land-use management, and soil and water quality. Primarily for FOR/FIW, LAR, and other plant/earth science related majors. May not be taken by CSES or ENSC majors. Partially duplicates 3114 and 3124. Pre: one year of introductory CHEM or BIOL or GEOS. (2H,3L,3C)
3144: SOIL DESCRIPTION AND INTERPRETATION
Describing, classifying, evaluating, and interpreting soil and site properties in the class and field. Local field trips supplement lecture and laboratory studies. Required for students interested in attending soil judging contests. Co: 3124, 3114. (1H,6L,3C)
3304 (GEOG 3304) (GEOS 3304): GEOMORPHOLOGY
Examines the variety of landforms that exist at the earth's surface. Detailed investigation of major processes operating at the earth's surface including: tectonic, weathering, fluvial, coastal, eolian, and glacial processes. Field excursion. Pre: GEOG 1104 or GEOS 1004 or GEOS 2104. (3H,3C)
3444 (HORT 3444): WORLD CROPS AND CROPPING SYSTEMS
An introduction to world crops, their primary regions of production, the factors that determine where they are grown, and their economic importance, and how they are used in the human diet. Describes the various factors that can be managed to improve crop yields. Examines present and potential systems of farming for improved crop production in the major climatic and soil ecosystems of the world. Provides an opportunity to taste foods made in traditional and non-traditional ways from the crops hence from field to fork. Junior standing required. (2H,3L,3C)
3564: GOLF AND SPORTS TURF MANAGEMENT
Principles of turfgrass science and culture required for successful establishment and management of intensely utilized fine golf and sports turf surfaces. Pre: 2564. (3H,3C)
3614 (ENSC 3614): SOIL PHYSICAL AND HYDROLOGICAL PROPERTIES
Soil physical and mechanical properties and the physical processes controlling soil water retention and flow in agronomic and natural settings. Grain size distribution, weight-volume relationships, specific surface, electrical charge density, consistency, stress, compaction, rainfall runoff, water retention, steady/non-steady water flow in saturated/unsaturated soil, infiltration, bare soil evaporation, and soil water balance. Pre: (3114, 3124) or (GEOS 3614, GEOS 3624). (3H,3C)
3634 (ENSC 3634): PHYSICS OF POLLUTION
Physical processes that control the fate of pollutants in our land, air, and water resources. Types and sources of pollutants, physical processes in the soil-water-atmosphere continuum controlling the dispersion and deposition of pollutants, the movement of pollutants, including radionuclides, by surface and subsurface water flow in soils, and physics of disturbed soils. Pre: 3114, PHYS 2205, (MATH 2016 or MATH 2024). (3H,3C)
3644 (ENSC 3644): PLANT MATERIALS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION
Overview of ecological principles related to revegetation and restoration of disturbed sites. Function and species requirements of plants in stabilizing disturbed areas including mines, rights-of-way, constructed wetlands, and for the remediation of contaminated soils. Pre: BIOL 1106. Co: 3114. (3H,3C)
3954: STUDY ABROAD
Variable credit course.
4134 (ENSC 4134): SOIL GENESIS AND CLASSIFICATION
Formation of soils across landscapes, soil-forming factors and processes, applied soil geology/geomorphology, applied soil biochemistry, soil hydrology, diagnostic horizons and characteristics used in Soil Taxonomy; soil classification and mapping. Three outdoor lectures and one 3-day field trip are mandatory. Pre: (3114, 3124) or (ENSC 3114, ENSC 3124) or (GEOS 3614, GEOS 3624) or CSES 3134 or ENSC 3134. (3H,3C)
4144: PLANT BREEDING AND GENETICS
Genetic variation in plants and its importance in plant breeding, and comparisons of theories and procedures in breeding of self-pollinated versus cross-pollinated plants. (2H,3L,3C)
4164 (BIOL 4164) (CEE 4164) (ENSC 4164): ENVIRONMENTAL MICROBIOLOGY
Ecology, physiology, and diversity of soil and aquatic microorganisms; incorporates the significance of these topics within the context of environmental applications such as bioremediation, wastewater treatment, control of plant- pathogens in agriculture, and pollution abatement in natural systems. The laboratory portion of the course will stress methodology development, isolation and characterization of microorganisms from natural and engineered systems, and examination of the roles of microorganisms in biogeochemical cycling. Pre: BIOL 2604. (2H,3L,3C)
4174: SOIL EVALUATION AND SAMPLIN
Naming, describing, classifying, sampling, and interpreting soil and site properties in the field to assess environmental impacts and suitability under specific land use scenarios. Selecting and evaluating sites of representative soil resources across the landscape using accepted professional protocols, simulating workplace responsibilities and performance. Local and regional field trips and sampling projects provide professional skill development evaluated by practitioners and potential employers. Pre: 3114 or 3144. (2H,3L,3C)
4214: SOIL FERTILITY AND MANAGEMENT
Soil productivity and nutrients required for crop growth; fertilizer sources and nutrient reactions in soil; methods of fertilizer nutrient placement in major tillage systems; and interpretation of soil tests and plant analyses for determining crop nutrient requirements. Pre: 3114 or 3134. (3H,3C)
4314 (ENSC 4314): WATER QUALITY
Provide comprehensive information on the physical, chemical, biological, and anthropogenic factors affecting water quality, fate and transport of contaminants in water, water quality assessment and management, and current water quality policies. Pre: (ENSC 3604 or BIOL 4004), (MATH 2015 or MATH 1026), (BIOL 1105 or BIOL 1106), (CHEM 1035 or CHEM 1036). (3H,3C)
4324 (ENSC 4324): WATER QUALITY LABORATORY
Teach students a variety of laboratory chemical and biological techniques for water quality analysis. Complementary to ENSC/CSES 4314. Pre: CHEM 1046. Co: 4314, ENSC 4314. (3L,1C)
4334 (FOR 4334): PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE OF AGROFORESTRY
Biological, social, economic, and technical aspects of agroforestry, training and technology transfer techniques, and application of forestry and agriculture principles. Roles of animals and fish, trees, and agricultural crops in agroforestry systems. Community involvement in planning and implementation of agroforestry projects. (3H,3C)
4344: CROP PHYSIOLOGY AND ECOLOGY
Developmental and ecological processes important in cropping situations: seed physiology, root and canopy development, flowering, water stress, energy flow, competition; emphasis on physiological adaptations, limitations to yield, and yield-optimizing strategies. (3H,3C)
4354: ADVANCED AGRONOMIC CROPS
Survey of major agronomic crops grown in the Eastern US and their production including: corn, soybean, wheat, barley, cotton, peanut, tobacco and alfalfa. Covers impact of environmental conditions and management on crops, resource requirements for productivity, and effects on soil resources. (3H,3C)
4444 (ENSC 4444): MANAGED ECOSYSTEMS, ECOSYSTEM SERVICES, AND SUSTAINABILITY
Description and interactions of climate, soils, and organisms within intensively managed ecosystems used to produce food, fiber, bioenergy, fresh water, recreation, cultural, and other ecosystems services essential for human well-being. Ecological concepts applied to agricultural, grassland, and urban/turf ecosystems. Ecologically-based principles for sustainably managed ecosystems. Regional and global significance of managed ecosystems in context of sustainable food systems, and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Pre-Requisite: Junior or Senior Standing required. Pre: 3114, 3124. (3H,3C)
4544: FORAGE CROP ECOLOGY
Species adaptation interrelated with soil, climatic, and biotic factors as associated with establishment, production, utilization, and nutritional value of forages. (3H,3C)
4594: SOIL AND GROUNDWATER POLLUTION
Application of mathematical models for chemical movement in soils and groundwater to evaluate soil and groundwater pollutant behavior; discussion of pollution remediation technologies; design of subsurface monitoring networks; case studies in soil and groundwater pollution; applications to landfills, waste spills, septic drainfields, pesticide/fertilizer leaching, and other problems of environmental concern. Pre: (MATH 2224 or MATH 2204 or MATH 2204H), (GEOL 4114 or CEE 4314). (3H,3C)
4644: LAND-BASED SYSTEMS FOR WASTE TREATMENT
Soils as a medium for waste treatment; potential for environmental degradation from biologicals and chemicals added to soils; development of land-based treatment and utilization systems for solid and liquid wastes; issues and concerns relating to large-scale applications of municipal and industrial wastes to land. (3H,3C)
4734 (CHEM 4734) (ENSC 4734): ENVIRONMENTAL SOIL CHEMISTRY
Chemistry of inorganic and organic soil components with emphasis on environmental significance of soil solution-solid phase equilibria, sorption phenomena, ion exchange processes, reaction kinetics, redox reactions, and acidity and salinity processes. Pre: 2114, 3124, CHEM 2514 or CHEM 2535, CHEM 2114, (MATH 2015 or MATH 1026). (3H,3C)
4754 (CHEM 4754) (ENSC 4754): INSTRUMENTAL ANALYSIS FOR AGRICULTURAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES
Theory and principles of common analytical instruments and their applications to agriculture and environmental science research. Topics include atomic absorption and emission spectroscopy, spectrophotometric methods (UV, visible, luminescence, and automation), chromatography, ion-selective electrodes, and microwave digestion. Infrared spectroscopy, atomic ratio and molecular mass spectroscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance will also be included. Provides hands-on experience with modern analytical instruments. Prerequisites or graduate standing required. Pre: (CHEM 2114, CHEM 2124) or (CSES 3114, CSES 3124). (3H,3L,4C)
4764 (ENSC 4764): BIOREMEDIATION
Overview of environmental biotechnology and the use of microbes and other organisms to remove contaminants and improve environmental quality. Topics include treatment of contaminated soils, waters, and wastewaters, as well as remediation of industrial waste streams. Pre: BIOL 2604. (3H,3C)
4774 (ENSC 4774): RECLAMATION OF DRASTICALLY DISTURBED LANDS
Remediation, rehabilitation, and revegetation strategies for lands disturbed by mining, construction, industrialization, and mineral waste disposal. Disturbed site characterization and material analysis procedures. Regulatory and environmental monitoring frameworks for mining sites and other disturbed lands. Prediction and remediation of water quality impacts from acid drainage. Pre: 3114 or GEOS 3614 or ENSC 3114 or CSES 3134 or ENSC 3134 or CSES 3304 or GEOG 3304 or GEOS 3304. (3H,3C)
4854 (ENSC 4854): WETLANDS SOILS AND MITIGATION
Wetland soils as components of natural landscapes: biogeochemistry, hydrology, geomorphology, hydric soil indicators, and wetlands functions under various land uses. Soil and hydrologic factors important to wetland delineation and jurisdictional determination. Mitigation of weltand impacts with emphasis on restoration and creation. Outdoor lectures at local wetlands and a two-day long field trip to observe and identify wetland soils are mandatory. Pre: (3114, 3124) or (ENSC 3114, ENSC 3124) or (GEOS 3614, GEOS 3624) or CSES 3134 or ENSC 3134. (2H,3L,3C)
4864: CAPSTONE: CROP & SOIL SCIENCES
Experiential and discussion-based learning that utilizes prior knowledge gained in the major to synthesize information, and prepare a written comprehensive work plan that is defended orally. Review available careers in the crop and soil sciences. Compose and critique resumes and cover letters. CSS majors only. Pre: Senior standing. (3H,3C)
4964: FIELD STUDY
Variable credit course.
4974: INDEPENDENT STUDY
Variable credit course.
4984: SPECIAL STUDY
Variable credit course.
4994: UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH
Variable credit course.