Friday, December 17, 2010

Favorite and influential soil science books

Below is my short article which appeared in the IUSS Bulletin 117 (Nov 2010) and 118 (June 2011) under the title "Favorite Soil Science Books."

Soil science is a rapidly growing ecological earth science. Consequently, the number of books on the subject has greatly increased in the last two decades. So to choose my top three soil science books, I thought of this criterion: the book must have been very useful to me when I was a student and it is still useful now in my research and teaching activities as a professor of soil science. The criterion automatically disqualifies some very good books that I used as a student but for various reasons I seldom or do not use them today as well as some outstanding soil science books published in recent years but were not yet available during my student days.

My first choice is the Properties and Management of Soils in the Tropics by Pedro A. Sanchez published in 1976 by John Wiley and Sons. It discusses in a simple but in-depth manner the tropical environment (climate, vegetation types, geology, land use and farming systems); the classification of tropical soils using Soil Taxonomy, FAO and some other important systems; the physical and chemical properties, clay mineralogy, and exchange processes of tropical soils; soil acidity and liming; soil nutrients and fertility evaluations; and soil management under different tropical land use systems. This outstanding book certainly belongs to the most important and influential books on tropical soils. I still use it regularly and even require my graduate students to read certain parts of it.
My second choice is Tropical Soils. A Comprehensive Study of their Genesis by E.C.J. Mohr, F.A. van Baren, and J. van Schuylenborgh (3rd revised edition) published in 1972 by Mouton-Ichtiar Baru-Van Hoeve. The book has three parts. Part I deals on the fundamentals of climate, rock and mineral weathering, and organic matter transformation. Part II discusses oxisols, leteritic soils, podzolic soils and podzols, vertisols, paddy soils, and andosols. Part III covers the experimental and physico-chemical study of soil-forming processes. I find it an excellent and unique book on tropical soils because of the coverage and details in which the topics are presented. It has been very useful to me especially during my masteral and doctoral studies (we used it for the course on tropical soils in Hohenheim). I still consult this book often which is an important part of my personal library.

My third choice is the standard soil science textbook in German-speaking countries, the Scheffer/Schachtschabel Lehrbuch der Bodenkunde (Textbook of Soil Science) now in its 16th edition (Spektrum Academisches Verlag). The book has undergone several revisions under different teams of authors. The latest edition was prepared by H.P. Blume, G.W. Bruemmer, R. Horn, E, Kandeler, I. Koegel-Knabner, R. Kretzschmar, K. Stahr, and B.M. Wilke, all leading soil scientists. It covers the origin and development of soils; physical, biological and chemical properties of and processes in soils; nutrients and contaminants; soil systematics and geography; soils and soil landscapes of Europe and the world; soil evaluation and protection. It is an excellent textbook for students who understand German. I find it also a vital reference for my research and teaching activities.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

To me, the original edition (1970s and 1980s) of the book by NC Brady was one of the best books in soil science. I got my basic knowledge on soil from it.