The three favourite soil science books of:
Pandi Zdruli (Italy)
Any time Alfred Hartemink distributes his IUSS Alerts I notice at the section “Publications” that the number of new books dealing with soil science is still increasing. It shows that our discipline is healthy and hopefully thriving, despite concerns that some Universities around the world are re-orienting or even closing Soil Departments since they receive less students than before. The good news is that soil science books perhaps are becoming useful also for non-soil scientists!
Selecting my three most favorites ones wasn’t easy and not surprisingly I haven’t chosen any of the most recent ones. Next, I thought to use some kind of criteria in making this decision. The first was “inclusive”, second “the one I used most frequently” and the third “support for the future of soil science” and the work of my fellow pedologists.
In the first category I include “Fundamentals of Soil Science” 8th edition by Henry Foth of Michigan State University, published by Wiley & Sons in 1990. It is a comprehensive book that provides the basic soil knowledge for students at all levels and those that teach soils. Fundamentals start with a description of soil as a medium for plant growth, deeps in soil physical, chemical, mineralogical properties, focuses on soil fertility and plant nutrition topics, genesis and Soil Taxonomy and finish up with important remarks on the role of soils in world food supply. For more about the book I would like to quote the author: “This book is a STORY about the soil. The story reflects my love of the soil and my devotion to promoting the learning and understanding of soils for more than 40 years. I hope that all who read this book will find it interesting as well as informative”.
For the second category I include “Soil Classification: A global desk reference” published in 2003 by CRC Press and edited by Hari Eswaran, Thomas Rice, Robert Ahrens and Bobby A. Stewart. It is a real global desk reference written by very well known worldwide names in soil classification addressing issues of complexity and difficulties in harmonizing soil classification systems with concrete examples from Australia, China, Brazil, France, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa and the tropics. I think this book may have contributed towards what we call now Universal Soil Classification System.
The third choice is “Soil Survey Manual” of the USDA Soil Survey Division Staff, Handbook No. 18, published in 1993 along with the USDA’s Field Book for Describing and Sampling Soils (version 3.0. 2011). They both are very useful for all soil scientists but most importantly for those that have to go down the pit and survey soils. Unfortunately nowadays this category of pedologists is in the phase of extinction as more people are relying on existing soil information or on remote sensing and GIS to describe what soils are.