The three favourite soil science books of:

Alex McBratney (Australia)

How do you choose a favourite book? Perhaps the one from which you learned the basics, or the most soiled and dog-eared, or the useful, or the prettiest, or the one that was simply a revelation .. In the realm of soil science, the one that taught me the most is probably Russell s Soil Conditions and Plant Growth. I particularly choose the 10th edition because it has said as much as there has been said about soil by a single author in a single tome. The most soiled, and some would argue, the most used book in soil science, is the Munsell Soil Color Book. I still take delight in flicking through the pages but it s not a heavy read, and technology has numbered its days a field spectrophotometer for all isn t far away. For most of us, the useful ones are the soil science cook books, the ones that you tell you the recipes, and in this category the SSSA s Methods of Soil Analysis series has been, and continues to be, pre-eminent. Then there are the pretty ones. I have no doubt about this, it s Kubi na s (1953) classic on the Soils of Europe (which surely should be recognized, revived, resurrected, and even revised by some august body of the pan-eurocracy, e.g., the European Soil Bureau.). To me the paintings of soil profiles are intriguing, inspiring, almost incandescent. Then there are the great monographs more challenging volumes written close to the cutting blade of research the ones likely to provide the disappointment of incomprehension or the vision of the oracle. For me I think about Nye and Tinker (1977) but Jenny (1941) and Childs (1969) run a close second. I have tried not to be partisan, but if I were to be sectarian, I would certainly choose Webster (1977). A lot began there. So I guess out of some innate desire for order, and a modicum of partiality, and an instruction to mention only three, I should rank them. Voi i-l !

Russell (1974)

Kubi na (1953)

Nye & Tinker (1977) Webster (1977)

I have silcrete evidence that these books have a wider appeal they ve all disappeared from my shelves.

It s pretty clear from this roll that the mid seventies were a fairly formative time in my thinking about soil science, and there have been so much published since then. A few gems in a matrix of potboilers? Perhaps. The new textbooks are so much better than the old ones, and tomes like McKenzie et al s (2004) Australian Soils and Landscapes approach Kubi na in beauty and surpass it in content, and then there are the great new encyclop dias. But I so long for the great new monograph that will give me inspiration. So, for the sake of soil science, I do hope my list will be quite different in twenty years time, but. I m sure Elvis and le grand Jacques will still be top of my pops.


IUSS Alerts

The monthly IUSS Newsletter - The IUSS Alert:

To read the most recent IUSS Alert,follow this link!
To subscribe to the IUSS Alert, follow this link!
To unsubscribe from the IUSS Alert, follow this link!

Meetings & Events

The fully packed IUSS Event Calendar

If you want to submit an event
send an email to

Page created: 22.02.2015 | Page updated: 22.02.2015

REDAXO 5 rocks!