The three favourite soil science books of:
Mike Vepraskas (USA)
These three books are my favorite soil science texts. My research and teaching interests deal with pedology and soil physics, and these books reflect those topics.
1. Brewer, R. 1964. Fabric and mineral analysis of soils. Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York . 470 p.
This book is the most important text on how soil morphology should be described and quantified, at both the macroscopic and microscopic levels. It also lays out methods for calculating volume changes to soil components that occur from weathering. This is the one book that has had the greatest impact on my career, and the careers of those who have taught me. I was introduced to it during my M.S. research, used it again for my Ph.D. research, and continue to refer to it in research conducted over the last 30 years. It is the only soils text I am aware of where people from around the world have literally memorized its definitions and concepts for soil components. This book should be considered one of the classic texts in soil science. Although not an easy book to read, nor an ideal text for teaching classes on micromorphology, it is an indispensable reference source for pedologists and soil physicists. It should be consulted by anyone dealing with soil solids, pores, soil structure, and soil formation. More recent texts are available from other authors, but they build upon the concepts presented here, and so I feel Brewer s book should never be forgotten.
2. Russell, E.W. 1973. Soil conditions and plant growth. 10th ed. Longman, London . 849 p.
This comprehensive text on soil science was a family affair, with ten editions written by father and/or son, beginning with the first edition published in 1912. I was told to read this book, cover to cover, by my Ph.D. advisor in order to prepare for my preliminary exams. I thought at first he was crazy because the book is over 4 cm thick. Paging through it now, I see from the underlined sections that I did make it through most of the text. The book has remained one of my favorite soil science texts for two reasons. First, the writing is very clear, with terms and concepts carefully defined and illustrated. Second, the literature discussed is not necessarily extensive, and is dated now, but the examples were chosen carefully to make their points. I still find the discussions in this book to be clearer than those found in more recent texts.
3. Holtz, R.D. and W.D. Kovacs. 1981. An introduction to geotechnical engineering. Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ. 733 p.
This text was written by engineers for an introductory course on soil mechanics. Of its 11 chapters, chapters 1 through 7 deal with soil and water topics that most soil scientists will recognize. The writing is straightforward and concepts clearly defined.
This is a favorite book of mine because I borrowed extensively from it when developing lectures for an undergraduate class on soil physics. In my opinion, every teacher of soil physics should read this book. It is unique in how it uses phase diagrams to solve problems related to masses and volumes of water, solids, and air. While authors of soil physics texts usually include a discussion of phase diagrams in their books, they seem to use the diagrams only as an illustration of soil components. Engineers on the other hand, use phase diagrams as a problem-solving tool. This was very useful to me in instructing my students (largely turf majors) in how to calculate bulk density, porosity, and water contents for various situations.