Introduction of Soil Science
Among the other branches of agriculture, soil science is the most important because it is the main source of nutrition for plants. It is the study of soil as a natural resource on the Earth’s surface including soil formation, classification, and mapping. Moreover, it also includes the physical, chemical, biological, and fertility properties of soils and the relation of these properties to the use and management of soils. Keep reading…….We have listed here, 18 branches of soil science with their definition and scope.
List Of 18 Branches of Soil Science and its Related Fields
- Soil chemistry
- Soil biology
- Soil mineralogy
- Genesis and classification of soils (Pedology)
- Soil physics
- Soil fertility
- Soil salinity
- Soil Survey
- Soil conservation
- Soil microbiology
- Soil Technology
- Environmental soil science
- Soil classification
- Soil mechanics
- Agricultural soil science
- Soil morphology
Continue reading to know detailed meanings and definitions of branches of soil science……….
Branches of Soil Sciences Definitions and Scope
1. Soil Chemistry
It is the branch of science that deals with the study of the chemical compositions, properties, and processes of the soil. Soils are heterogeneous mixtures of water, air, inorganic & organic solids, and microorganisms. Soil chemistry helps us to understand available of minerals to plants and their leaching process.
2. Soil Biology
This concerns organism living in soil, their biology, function, and activities, for example, nematodes and insects. Major soil organisms are microorganisms and microinvertebrates. These live within the soil and are largely responsible for the decomposition processes vital to soil fertility.
3. Soil Mineralogy
The branch focuses on primary and secondary soil minerals and their contribution to the soil, to develop the physical and chemical structure of the soil. It also focuses on soil fertility and biology. Minerals are naturally inorganic compounds with specific physical, chemical, & crystalline properties.
Silicate minerals dominate in most soils. Other major soil minerals are sulfides, oxides & hydroxides, halides, sulfates, carbonates, & phosphates.
4. Genesis and Classification of Soils (Pedology)
In the case of Soil formation, it is associated with weathering of rocks and minerals, as well as aspects and routes of soil formation. But the Soil classification is a science of division of soils into groups based on their properties.
5. Soil physics
The mechanical behavior of the mass of the soil in particular with water and energy of the grounds called Soil physics. Moreover, this branch of soil science also determines the soil’s basic texture. Small particles of sand, silt, and clay lump together to form peds or aggregates. The shape and size of these peds determine soil structure.
6. Soil Fertility
It is the capacity of the soil to supply plants with essential nutrients for their growth and development. The fertility of soil can be enhanced by the application of inorganic or organic fertilizers in the soil. More Fertility of soils leads to more crops yield and more microbial and biological activity of soil leading to more nutrients recycling.
7. Soil Salinity
It is the Study of the excess soluble salts contained in the soil, their extraction, and soil treatment for agriculture. The process of increasing the salt content of the soil is known as salinization. Salinity causes severe losses in crops yield and even the death of plants.
8. The Soil Survey
This Field of Soil science involves the systematic inspection of soils on-site and in the laboratory, their classification, interpretation, and mapping. Primary data of the soil survey is acquired by field sampling or remote sensing.
9. Soil Conservation
This branch of soil science is concerned with the protection of the soil from physical destruction caused by erosion (by water and wind) or chemical destruction. Soil protection is associated with a mixture of all land use and management approaches that protect soils from destruction due to natural or anthropogenic factors.
10. Soil Microbiology
While dealing with several areas of agriculture, soil microbiology examines the soil for microbial communities. It deals with their role and characteristics in soil fertility and land reclamation, and in particular plant nutrition through rooting or diseases caused by phytopathogenic microbes in the soil.
11. The Soil Technology
This is an applied aspect of soil science. It deals with the study of the principles and practices of soil erosion and conservation. In short, this branch deals with soil health or soil issues which include salinity, sodium (alkaline), acid, degradation, waterlogging, etc.
12. Environmental Soil Science
It is the study of human interaction with the pedosphere as well as critical aspects of the biosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere. Environmental soil science addresses both fundamental and applied aspects of the field, such as erosion control, soil contamination by metals and pesticides, remediation of contaminated soils, restoration of wetlands, soil degradation, and nutrient management.
13. Soil Classification
Soil classification deals with the systematic categorization of soils on the basis of distinctive characteristics as well as criteria that dictate the choice of use.
The USCS (The Unified Soil Classification System) has three major classification groups: First is coarse-grained soils (eg, sands and gravels), second is fine-grained soils (eg silts and clays), and finally, the third one is highly organic soils (referred to as “peat”). The USCS further subdivides the three major soil classes for clarification purposes. Furthermore, it also distinguishes sands from gravels by the size of the grains, and further classifies some as “well classified” and the rest as “poorly classified”.
14. Soil Mechanics
Soil mechanics is a branch of soil physics and applied mechanics that describes the behavior of soils. Furthermore, it differs from fluid mechanics and solid mechanics in the fact that soils are made up of a heterogeneous mixture of fluids (usually air and water) and particles (usually clay, silt, sand, and gravel), and they contain organic solids and other matter as well.
Examples of applications are foundations for buildings and bridges, dams and buried pipeline systems, agricultural engineering, hydrology, and soil physics.
Hydropedology is an emerging field formed from the intertwined branches of soil science and hydrology. Hydropedology focuses on the interface between the hydrosphere and the pedosphere.
16. Agricultural soil science
Agricultural soil science is a branch of soil science that deals with the study of soil conditions with respect to food and fiber production. In this context, it is also a constituent of the field of agronomy and is therefore also qualified as soil agronomy.
17. Soil Morphology
Soil morphology is the study of the formation and description of soil types within various soil horizons.
The observations are typically made on a soil profile in order to analyze the different soil horizons. A profile is a vertical section, in two dimensions, in the ground and delimits one side of a pedon. A pedon is the smallest unit containing all the horizons of the soil. Pedons typically measure 1 square meter above and capture the lateral range of variability from soil to bedrock.
Edaphology (from the Greek ἔδαφος, edaphos, “earth”, -λογία, -logia) is concerned with the influence of soils on living beings, in particular plants. In fact, edaphology includes the study of how soil influences humankind’s land use for plant growth as well as the overall land use by people. The general subfields of edaphology are agricultural soil science (known as agronomy in some areas) and environmental soil science.