The three favourite soil science books of:

Tom Goddard (Canada)

First some context: I am neither an academic/educator nor a research scientist. I manage a soil and climate change section of an agriculture department in a province that contains about one third of the agricultural land in Canada. We do extension, technology transfer and applied research in the course of our duties across a wide range of soils and agricultural production systems. We also liaise or consult with colleagues in reclamation and forestry. Thus, our reference bookshelves are cramped with a diverse selection of reference material.

Soil Sampling and Methods of Analysis, edited by Martin Carter contains 75 chapters of soil physical, biological and chemical methodologies. It is a Canadian Society of Soil Science effort and a valuable reference when deciding on the most appropriate analyses for any particular problem; comparing data from different analytical techniques, or cross referencing laboratory methods used by the industry. This book often walks into others offices and precipitates finger pointing in the blame game of who took the book last!

Earlier in my career, I relied upon general soils texts such as Soil Science by R.L. Hausenbuiller but now I find my needs are more detailed and specific. Soil Fertility and Fertilizers by Tisdale, Nelson and Beaton is a good, wide-ranging reference for the temperate soils we deal with.

My third choice was a bit of a tie between a statistics book and a mineralogy one. I chose the latter largely because I have colleagues that help me with statistics (I leave those books on their bookshelves). I get asked questions relating more to my perceived soils expertise and my work with different soil types, salinity, and processes leads me to refer to Minerals in Soil Environments. It has some good graphics that are useful in explaining principles and processes to others and very comprehensive discussions of all minerals and families of processes.

One book I am eagerly awaiting is currently being produced by the EC Joint Research Commission with a working title of Geomorphometry: concepts, software and applications. Landscapes are what soils are all about. As a field practitioner we know farmers farm landscapes, trees grow on landscapes, reclamation and remediation occurs on landscapes. Much of the knowledge in books however comes from labs and pedons. I think there are new tools emerging this decade that will allow us a fresh, more informed examination of landscapes.

What I would like to see is a book describing the range of agricultural practices around the world to grow the same crop and an analysis of how those practices are suited to soil/climate conditions versus culture and tradition. When I travel I am always intrigued at how we try to do the same thing (e.g. grow wheat) so differently in different areas. I have the need to learn more

Soil sampling and Methods of Analysis, M.R. Carter, Ed, Canadian Society of Soil Science. 1993 Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, USA 823p.

Tisdale, S.L., Nelson, W.L. and Beaton, J.D. 1985 Soil fertility and fertilizers, 4th ed. Macmillan Pub. Co., New York, USA 754p.

Minerals in Soil Environments, J.B. Dixon and S.B. Weed, Eds, Soil Sci Soc Am. Madison, Wisconsin, USA 1977. 948 p.

Tom Goddard
Head, Soils & Climate Change
Conservation & Development Br.
Alberta Agriculture and Food
#206, 7000 – 113 Street
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6H 5T6


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Page created: 22.02.2015 | Page updated: 22.02.2015

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