The three favourite soil science books of:

Eric Brevik (USA)

Picking three favorite books out of all the books available in the soil science literature was a rather difficult undertaking, particularly given my diverse interests within the field of soil science. The basic approach I chose to take was to select one book from each of three areas that I am currently involved in.

Those areas are 1) soil genesis and survey, 2) sustainable soil management, and 3) soil science history.

In soil genesis and survey, my favorite book is Soils: Genesis and Geomorphology by R. Schaetzl and S. Anderson . This book provides a very complete overview of the modern status of the material it covers, and I find it highly valuable both as a professional reference and as a textbook for the soil genesis and survey class I teach. I am also rather partial to the subject material, as someone who did masters work in geomorphology and doctoral work in soil genesis and survey.

Under the sustainable soil management heading, I recently had the opportunity to read Building Soils for Better Crops (3rd edition) by F. Magdoff and H. Van Es. This book is clearly written and the information is presented at a level that should be assessable to most farmers, who are after all the ones who are ultimately responsible for whether or not our soils will be managed sustainably. The topics are logically arranged, information on additional resources is provided for those who want more information, and everything is nicely synthesized in the final chapters.

My current favorite in the soil history category would be Footprints in the Soil: People and Ideas in Soil History edited by B. Warkentin. Footprints covers some topics I find to be absolutely fascinating. Some of the highlights include chapters written by authors who went back to early manuscripts and other primary sources produced by societies such the Romans and Aztecs documenting their soils knowledge. Additional information and interpretations of the ideas of individuals who are well-known to the soils and, in some cases, broader scientific community is also presented. Footprints provides some excellent information on the roots of our field.

So there it is, my list of three. It wasn t easy to make! There are so many other books I considered in each of these categories while making this list and several times that I started to settle on a book for the list and then changed my mind. I also considered listing a few of those other titles here without additional explanation, but in the end I decided to stop with just the requested three.


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Page created: 22.02.2015 | Page updated: 22.02.2015

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