Environmental Soil/Water Science
The Environmental Soil/Water Science (ESWS) Major provides students with an understanding of the physical, chemical, and biological processes that occur in the soil-water zone at the Earth’s surface. The ESWS program is intended to provide each student with a fundamental understanding of basic sciences and mathematics, and a strong background in soil and water sciences. Preparatory requirements include chemistry, phyasics, mathematics, biology, ecology, geology, and statistics. The professional core courses for Environmental Soil/Water Science emphasize the interactive soil/water processes in the soil’s plant-rooting zone -- from the microscopic to the landscape perspective. From this foundation, each student can design his or her own program of specialization in one of the many aspects of soil science, water science, or plant science. Students gain field and laboratory experience in several courses including: Analytical Techniques for the Soil Environment (a dedicated laboratory course); Environmental Soil Physics; Soil Genesis, Morphology and Classification; and Soil and Water Conservation. ESWS majors are required to complete a capstone course, Environmental Quality: Soil and Water, that strives to integrate their soils knowledge with by working on a current environmental quality issue in the western US. Students in this course have the opportunity to work closely with several faculty, while performing library, laboratory, and and/or field investigations culminating in a group presentation of their analysis of the problem. Technical written and oral presentation skills are improved preparing students for possible career opportunities in consulting and government agencies.
At the graduate level, soils faculty advise both MS and PhD students in Soil Science and Ecology, as well as other students from across campus that require soils expertise. Formal teaching includes dual listed courses (upper division/MS level), MS level, and doctoral courses in soil chemistry, physics and pedology. Graduate student programs are individualized and most learning occurs in the environment of close mentoring between faculty and students while conducting their research projects.
The Ornamental Horticulture emphasis is designed to provide students expertise in the broad area of general ornamental horticulture. Expertise is developed in plant materials, greenhouses, landscape, turfgrass, pest management, and plant structure and function. Students are expected to be able to function effectively in any one of a number of career opportunities dealing in these areas. The Landscape Maintenance and Construction emphasis is a joint program with the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning. Fundamentally the emphasis focuses more on landscape design and construction and less on the basic biological sciences. Students in this emphasis are qualified to work with designers, contractors, and managers in the landscape arena and are expected to gain the skills necessary to appreciate all of these components of an effective landscape. The Turfgrass Management emphasis focuses more closely on the biology, pest control, and management of turf in situations such as golf courses and athletic fields. Graduates gain a solid understanding of the biology of turf and what is required to manage it effectively in the extensively used environments. The Business emphasis is designed to meet the needs of industries such as garden centers. In essence, the emphasis focuses more on business and less on the fundamental sciences. Students gain expertise in accounting, marketing, managing, ethics, and business information systems. Lastly, the Science option is designed to prepare students for graduate school in the plant sciences. The course work focuses on biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, and statistics, as well as a fundamental understanding of horticultural production and management.
Graduate degrees in horticulture are primarily offered as masters and doctoral degrees in plant science. These degrees are research based, include a thesis, and are in areas such as crop production, landscape management, crop physiology, biotechnology, and weed science. Specific outcomes required for each degree vary with the project and thesis committee. The department also offers a Master of Professional Studies in Horticulture Degree which is a non-thesis, one-year masters program designed to prepare students for management roles in landscape water conservation. This degree focuses on irrigation management, adult education, and other skills which would be of benefit to water agencies.
The Bachelors degree in crop science has emphases in Agronomy and Research/Biotechnology. Within the Agronomy emphasis, students gain expertise in basic chemistry, biology, mathematics, and physics in addition to departmental courses covering crop production and management. Students are also expected to complete at least 11 credits in soil science to gain an understanding of this important component of field crop production. Earning the Agronomy degree provides the expertise needed for a career in production agriculture or one of its many allied industries. The Research/Biotechnology emphasis is designed to prepare students for graduate work and emphasizes the basic sciences along with the core courses of an agronomy program. The major has been structured to allow as many electives as possible to further allow students to focus on their own goals. ARCPACS certification as a certified agronomist, certified crop scientist, or certified weed scientist is available to students who choose this route and take certain identified electives.
The department has a graduate program offering masters and doctoral degrees in plant science for those students working in the crop science area. These graduate degrees are research degrees requiring a research project and thesis and are in the areas of. plant development, tissue culture, plant breeding/genetics, plant physiology, plant biotechnology or weed science.
Climate or biometeorology is offered as a degree program in PSC only as a graduate program. But, the teaching program has both an undergraduate and graduate component. The classes at each level serve different roles. The graduate level classes address the major processes connected to the various research done here. In addition to some basic meteorology, they also cover a breadth of issues relating to micrometeorology, surface water balance, remote sensing, and land-atmosphere interactions. In addition to biometeorology graduate students, these classes serve other students who have research interests that connect to these subjects. These students come from a variety of areas including; biological and irrigation engineering, geography, watershed, hydrology, ecology, crop science, and soil science. The undergraduate classes are largely provided as service to support the general education program as well as the flight program. The introductory class serves as a breadth class in physical sciences. The Global Climate class meets the science depth and quantitative requirements. Finally, Aviation Weather is a required class for the flight program at USU.