10 Researchers in Soil Science
What is Soil Science?
It’s the study of the first few meters of the earth’s surface. That part we call dirt or soil and where most plant roots are located. If you push a shovel into the ground and pull up a shovel’s full of soil, that’s the depth that most soil scientists study. The chemical, physical, and biological properties of that shovelful of soil will determine what’s happening in the sub-soil (the soil layer beneath that top few meters), and the deeper substratum.
Where Do Soil Scientists Work?
They work all over the globe. Most soil scientists work part of the time in trial fields or helping farmers create greater productivity on their farms and the rest of their time in labs analyzing the data from the fields they have walked.
Soil scientists work along a wide range of sub-specialties: soil mapping, carbon sequestration, nutrient management, pedalogy (how soils form), and the physical, chemical, and microbial properties of soil. The focus here is on those scientists who are studying the physical, chemical, and microbial properties of soils and how to improve them.
Soil Scientists at Work
Dr. Wendy Taheri
Founding partner Of TerraNimbus
Photo source: ecofarmingdaily.com
Dr. Taheri studies the role of arbuscuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AM Fungi) in providing nutrients to plants. She also studies the impact synthetics have on the plant-fungi symbiosis.
Recently she has been studying the interactions between soil phosphorus and microorganisms. She has completed a study that says “…soil biological activities continually transform P into forms with varying mobility and plant-availability and therefore introduce a kinetic aspect to P retention and plant availability.”
She questions the use of conventional soil tests to direct P applications because it doesn’t take into account the fluid nature of P in soil as a result of the interactions with microorganisms and plants.
Dr. Sieglinde Snapp
Photo source: canr.msu.edu
Professor of Soils and Cropping Systems Ecology and Associate Director of t Center for Global Change & Earth Observations, Michigan State University, MI
Dr. Snapp is interested not only in the soil food web, but in how agricultural systems work. Her research includes plant soil nutrient cycling and how the use of cover crops contributes to soil biology. Dr. Snapp works on “…ecologically sound design of agriculture through multidisciplinary approaches, long-term field experimentation, participatory action research, and systems modeling.” Dr. Snapp has found