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Tufts OpenCourseware
Authors: Kathleen Merrigan, Ph.D., William Lockeretz, Ph.D.


Soils in Our Environment. Chap. 17 (part): Pollution of soil, water and air. Raymond Miller and Duane Gardiner. (2001).

Soil and Water Quality: An Agenda for Agriculture. Soil and water quality: New problems , new solutions. National Research Council. (1993).

Key Questions

Soils in our Environment – Pollution of Soil, Water and Air

  • What are the various threats to the environment at present?
  • What soil related factors affect phosphorus and nitrogen pollution of water?
  • What concentrations of phosphorus and nitrogen cause algal growth and health problems in infants, respectively?
  • What are the sources of water pollution due to phosphorous?
  • What are the sources of nitrogen in the soil solution?
  • What factors influence movement of nitrogen into ground / surface water?
  • What is the difference between the ‘nitrate’ and ‘nitrate-nitrogen’ content in water?
  • What are the pros and cons of using sewage sludge for agriculture?
  • What precautions need to be taken if sewage sludge is used for agriculture?
  • Why is cadmium of special concern among all heavy metals?
  • What percentage of available photosynthetic energy in US is converted into food? (See table on page 510).
  • What is the most serious environmental threat of food processing wastes?
  • What is the effect of soil sediments on water pollution?

Soil and Water Quality: An Agenda for Agriculture

  • What are the major problems related to soils, beyond erosion?
  • What are the major sources of water pollution in rivers and lakes? (See Figure 1- 3, page 29)
  • How do farm structure and producer preferences influence adoption of practices to mitigate pollution?

Supplementary Readings

Elements and Atomic Weights, Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, University of Florida. Access online at:

Water Quality for Agriculture. Ayers, R.S (1989, 1994) . Access online at: