Update: 24.09.2017

Five tonnes of animal life can live in one hectare of soil.

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The International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) is the global union of soil scientists. The objectives of the IUSS are to promote all branches of soil science, and to support all soil scientists across the world in the pursuit of their activities. This website provides information for IUSS members and those interested in soil science.

The three favourite soil science books of:

Meine van Noordwijk (Indonesia)

Nye, P.H. and Greenland, D.J., 1960. The soil under shifting cultivation. CAB, Farnham Royal (UK)

Nye, P.H. and Tinker, P.B., 1977. Solute Movement in the Soil-Root System, Blackwell, Oxford, UK, 342 pp.

Mohr, E.C.M., 1933. De bodem der tropen in het algemeen en die van Nederlandsch-Indie in het byzonder (or in more internationally accessible form: Mohr, E.J.C., van Baren, F.A. and van Schuylenborgh, J., 1972.Tropical soils: a comprehensive study of their genesis. 3rd edition. Mouton Ichtiar Baru van Hoeve, The Hague)

Starting from a plant ecological perspective, working on root systems and the way they link soil fertility to plant growth, the three mentioned books helped me appreciate soils and in particular the soils of the tropical domain. Nye and Greenland made a lot of the older work in the english-speaking tropics on soil management accessible, and under the simple title a good mix of practical and process-related research is described. The book is still worth reading.

The Nye and Tinker book gave a good overview of the next two decades of detailed exploration of the processes that govern solute transport to roots, with well-designed experiments, improved measurement techniques and a key role for mathematical modelling techniques.

In Bogor we recently celebrated hundred years of the Indonesian Soils research institute, of which Mohr was director for some time. Retrieving a 1908 publication by him, I was struck by the careful analysis of complex issues of silt load of rivers. In those days, silt loads were a positive attribute as they provided fertility to rice fields, but some of the sediments had negative impacts on the rice. Mohr traced the source to a small part of the catchment with a specific geological history. Reading this early work, his later comprehensive account of soil genesis was actually based on very practical problems. Much of today s public debate on environmental impacts of land cover change could benefit if soils weren t just perceived as colours on maps, but the highly diverse entities that Mohr described. Mohr s book (and later editions of it) summarize much of it, although for some real gems one still has to read the original publications in Dutch.