Soil science

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A soil scientist in front of a soil profile

The Soil Science , soil science or Pedologie (from ancient Greek πέδον Pedon "bottom" and -logie ), rare Edaphologie ( ancient Greek ἔδαφος edaphos "ground"), is a science that deals with the ground formation from the rock subsoil, the soil development , the soil particles , soil properties and soil classification .

As ground or crumb Pedologen designate the top, usually very busy and porous decimeter the earth's surface, where the plant roots . Soils are created from the rock below through weathering and the activity of the soil organisms .

History and definition

Soil science established itself as a separate scientific discipline in the 19th century, to which the Russian geographer and geologist Wassili Wassiljewitsch Dokuchajew , the German private scholar Friedrich Albert Fallou and Charles Darwin contributed in particular .

In the 20th century in Europe, according to soil types structured soil mapping to a widely recognized national task and is also seen in the context of the problem areas water and environmental protection, targeted (economical) fertilization and promotion of location-specific (semi-) natural vegetation today. Since around 1985, the German-speaking countries have therefore started to develop official soil information systems (see GeoLIS and Spatial Information System , RIS).

The term soil is used very differently in the individual geosciences . Soil science defines the term (according to Winfried Blum , University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna) as follows:

“Soil is a loose cover (section from the pedosphere) that extends from the earth's surface to the rock, is divided into horizons and interspersed with water, air and living beings and in which these transformation processes continue. "

Since soils consist of a solid, gaseous and liquid phase, they represent a three-phase, dynamic, geo- and bio-ecological system.

Interdisciplinary science

Soil science is an interdisciplinary science that uses knowledge and methods from various fields. Which includes

The knowledge of soil science is of fundamental importance in ecology, agriculture and forestry. The latter deal with the cultivated soil , which has been the foundation of human survival since the beginning of agriculture in the Neolithic Age.

On the basis of traditional soil classification, forest science has developed a view of the soil as a geo-ecosystem . The prognoses about the effects of anthropogenic element inputs on the bio- element balance of soils have been confirmed by long-term studies .

Soil science provides - within the framework of materials science - also soil mechanics , earth statics and hydrometric basics for geotechnics and structural engineering, as they are required in foundation engineering .

Soil samples of different colors in sample dishes

Significance for environmental protection

Soil protection , i.e. the sustainable preservation of the functionality of the soil, above all to secure or restore it through “good professional practice”, is anchored in the German Federal Soil Protection Act (BBodSchG). To this end, harmful changes to the soil are to be avoided as far as possible or persistent negative functionality to be remedied if necessary. In addition to mechanical soil compaction , the negative changes also include chemical contamination from contaminated sites and the water pollution caused by them. Excessive anthropogenic stress leads to these degradations , which can increasingly be measured by soil erosion (see also dust bowl ), surface sealing or declining soil fertility . If the soil is affected, impairment of its natural functions and its role as an archive of natural and cultural history should be avoided as far as possible.


Soil science is mostly taught in an interdisciplinary manner in German-speaking countries. Soil science teaching content is conveyed in the basic and advanced courses such as forest science , geography , geoecology , agriculture and forestry , arboristics , geosciences and environmental sciences .

The University of Hanover focuses on soil science topics in its bachelor's degree in geosciences. In addition, a focus on soil science can be placed in the advanced master’s courses in geosciences and landscape sciences .

The advanced master’s course “Soil Use and Soil Protection” at the Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences focuses on the soil.

At the University of Hohenheim you can study soil sciences as a specialization in the bachelor's and master's degree in agricultural sciences.

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Soil science  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Pedology  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Soil Science  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Krasilnikov, NA 1958. Soil Microorganisms and Higher Plants
  2. Hans Joachim Fiedler : The soil science works of Friedrich Albert Fallous in today's soil geological point of view . In: Archives for Forestry Vol. 19, 1970, pp. 1027-1035
  3. AA Yarilov: C. Darviin - osnovopoloshnik nauki o pochve. (Charles Darwin - The founder of soil science). In: Potschwowedenije , Volume 4, 1936, pp. 17-23
  4. WEH Blum : Soil Science in keywords . 7th edition. Borntraeger, Stuttgart 2012, p. 1
  5. ^ Institute for Soil Science - Study / Teaching. Retrieved June 20, 2020 .