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What is soil science?
Soil science is the study of soil, a very important natural resource for the survival of humans. This natural resource available on the surface of the earth has many unique properties. This science deals with the subjects like soil formation, its classification and mapping, its physical and chemical properties, its fertility and its use and management.
Soil science is a multidisciplinary science and includes expertise of engineers, physicists, chemists, agronomists, biologists, archaeologists and ecologists. The present focus of the studies concern the proper land use and its preservation to feed the growing world population. The two main branches of this study are pedology and edaphology.
Pedology is the study of soils in their natural environment. It is one of two main branches of soil science Pedology includes studies of pedogenesis, its morphology and classification.
Pedogenesis is the study of the natural processes and occurrences contributing to its formation and its evolution. Vasily Dokuchaev (1846 – 1903), a Russian geologist, determined that its formation is as a consequence of climatic, mineral and biological processes over time. He proposed an earth formation equation: Soil = f(C, PM, O) x time (where C = climate, PM = parent material, O = biological processes)
Parent material is the rock from which the soil is formed. Climate regulates and enhances its formation. Especially high rainfalls and high temperatures hasten the process.
With an increase of 10 degrees of celsius, there is an increase of 2-3 times of chemical weathering process. Climate also regulates the presence of fauna and flora. The organisms live in and on it also contribute to its formation. Both the fauna and flora have a great role.
This is a study of various earth horizons and their arrangements. Studies of its composition, form, structure and organization as well as the color are made by typically performed soil profile. Micromorphology is also undertaken to determine porosity and texture.
Earth classification is a dynamic subject and can be approached from the perspective of earth as a material or as a resource. The common classification system is the Unified Soil Classification System (USCS).
The USCS has classified soil into three major groups. They are:
- 1. coarse-grained (e.g. sands and gravels);
- 2. fine-grained (e.g. silts and clays); and
- 3. highly organic (referred to as "peat").
Edaphology is the study pertaining to the influence of earth on living things particularly plants and their growth. It covers agricultural and environmental sciences. All aspects of agricultural studies like chemistry, plant nutrients, fertility and fertilizer components are dealt in edaphology.
Environmental soil science cover studies like wastewater management, stormwater management, agricultural runoff, resource contamination and degradation, global warming etc.
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