Footprints in the Soil

Footprints in the Soil

People and Ideas in Soil History

1st Edition - April 18, 2006

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  • Editor: Benno Warkentin
  • eBook ISBN: 9780080477879
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780444521774

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The history of science discipline is contributing valuable knowledge of the culture of soil understanding, of the conditions in society that fostered the ideas, and of why they developed in certain ways. This book is about the progressive “footprints” made by scientists in the soil. It contains chapters chosen from important topics in the development of soil science, and tells the story of the people and the exciting ideas that contributed to our present understanding of soils. Initiated by discussions within the Soil Science Society of America and the International Union of Soil Sciences, this book uniquely illustrates the significance of soils to our society. It is planned for soils students, for various scientific disciplines, and for members of the public who show an increasing interest in soil. This book allows us to answer the questions: “How do we know what we know about soils?” and “How did one step or idea lead to the next one?”The chapters are written by an international group of authors, each with special interests, bound together by the central theme of soils and how we came to our present understanding of soils. Each concentrate on soil knowledge in the western world and draw primarily on written accounts available in English and European languages. Academics, graduate students, researchers and practitioners will gain new insights from these studies of how ideas in soil science and understanding of uses of soils developed.

Key Features

* Discusses tracing soils knowledge accumulated from Roman times, first by soil users and after 1800s by scientists
* Offers ideas about how soils knowledge was influenced by the social context and by human needs
* Combines the history of ideas with scientific knowledge of soils
* Written by chapter authors who combine subject matter expertise with knowledge of practical soil uses, and provide numerous references for further study of the relevant literature


Soil scientists, academics, graduate students, researchers and practitioners interested in terrestrial ecosystems and soil geography, ecologists, historians of agriculture and environment

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledement

    Section I
    Early Understanding of Soils
    1. Soil Scientists in Ancient Rome—V. Winiwarter
    2. Aztec Knowledge of Soils, Soil Ecology and Management—B. Williams
    3. The Heritage of Soil Knowledge Among the World’s Cultures—J. Sandor, A. Winkler-Prins, N. Barrera-Bassols, and J.A. Zinck
    4. Some Major Scientists Describing Soil Profiles and Developing Soil Investigation Techniques Before 1880—C. Feller, E. Blanchart, and D. Yaalon
    5. Souls and Soils: A Survey of Worldviews—V. Winiwarter and W. Blum

    Section II
    Soil as a Natural Body
    6. The Roots of Dokuchaev’s Scientific Contributions: Cadastral Soil Mapping and Agro-Environmental Issues—C. Evtuhov
    7. Philosophical Developments in Pedology in the United States: Eugene Hilgard and Milton Whitney—R. Amundson
    8. Development of the Soil Cover Pattern and Catena Concepts—A. Gennadiyev and J. Bockheim
    9. The History of Soil Geomorphology in the United States—V. Holliday

    Section III
    Soil Properties and Processes
    10. Soils in Ecology and Ecology in Soils—D. Binkley
    11. History of Soil Biology—J. Berthelin, U. Babel, and F. Toutain
    12. Historical Aspects of Soil Chemistry—D. Sparks
    13. The Changing Understanding of Physical Properties of Soils: Water Flow and Soil Architecture—S. Hasegawa and B. Warkentin

    Section IV
    Soil Uses and Users
    14. Soil Erosion and Conservation: An International History and a Cautionary Tale—K. Showers
    15. Stewardship and Soil Health—E. Gregorich, G. Sparling and J. Gregorich
    16. Soil Nutrient Management for Plant Growth—A. Finck
    17. Soils and Environmental Issues—T. Addiscott
    18. Ancient Agricultural Terraces and Soils—J. Sandor

Product details

  • No. of pages: 572
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Elsevier Science 2006
  • Published: April 18, 2006
  • Imprint: Elsevier Science
  • eBook ISBN: 9780080477879
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780444521774

About the Editor

Benno Warkentin

Affiliations and Expertise

Oregon Water Resources Research Institute, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, USA

Ratings and Reviews

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  • JoseNavarro P. Mon Jan 07 2019

    NIce Soil History review

    The book tell us an interesting history about the development of Soil Science. I was very interesting in the chapter 12, about Soil Chemistry. However, the book is so close to the development of the Soil Science in USA while contributors are mostly from USA. Moreover, the review done in each chapter is of great interest. The literature given can help us to understand the Soil Science History. Although we have to look for the development in ancient times in Asia, specially in China.