Five tonnes of animal life can live in one hectare of soil.

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The three favourite soil science books of:

Gan-Lin Zhang (China)

Good books are teachers and friends. In the past 20 years of my study and career related to soil science, it is books that have inspired me all the way. To choose only three books as the most favourite ones is a difficult, however, I made up my minds that there were several books helped me substantially and gave me great inspirations.

The first one is Soils of China (Science Press, 1978). When I studied soil science and agrochemistry in early 1980s in Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan, it was the most comprehensive book I could find about the soils in China at that time. Actually not only the soils in all geographical regions of China are described, but also the basic soil formation and distribution theories, soil physical and chemical phenomena and their explanations, soil use and management and the related principles are detailed. What s interesting is that the first (1978) version was actually completed during Chinese Cultural Revolution, so chapters about soil use and management rather than about principles and theories are presented first in the book, to be politically (ideologically) correct . Its second version appeared in 1987 and updated with research progress, including the rearrangement of the chapters. The more than 1000 page English version appeared several years later in early 1990s.

My second choice is The Chemistry of Submerged Soils by F.N. Ponnamperuma, which is not a book in a strict sense, but a chapter of Advances in Agronomy (1975, Vol 24: 29-96). Paddy soils are a special type of soils, but whatever the soils are the fundamental science principles apply, this is the book tells and implies. I believe that researchers especially those working on wetland soils can benefit much from reading it. This book was my favourite reference when I completed my doctorial dissertation on paddy soils.

Another of my most favourite is Pedogenesis and Soil Taxonomy by L.P. Wilding, N.E. Smeck and G.F. Hall (Elsevier, 1983). Although it is contributed by a group of authors, the book is a well-organized system by itself. Many aspects of soil genesis are discussed in-depth and one can better understand the basic laws behind soil formation through the chapters. Based on the understandings about how the soil forming factors driving soil processes, the soil classification becomes much easier to follow. I perceive it as a necessary book for all who want to study soil process and characterization in the context of space and time.