Soil science is the study of soil as a natural resource on the surface of the earth. It encompasses the sub-topics of soil formation, classification and mapping. These topics can be studied through an analysis of the physical, chemical, biological or fertility properties. The main concern of a soil scientist is how to preserve soil and arable land in a world with a growing population, future water crisis, increasing per capita food consumption and land degradation. These problems are being researched extensively by engineers, agronomists, chemists, geologists, physical geographers, ecologists, biologists, microbiologists, and many other experts. The two main divisions of soil science are pedology and edaphology.
Pedology is the study of soil in its natural environment. It typically looks at pedogenesis, soil morphology and soil classification. Pedologists are interested in the practical applications of understanding the evolution and functioning of soils. Pedologists have discovered that through the knowledge of soils history, it will be possible to ensure its sustainable use. There is a crucial need to preserve soil for vegetation support, interactions between the climate and the life within the soil.
Edaphology is concerned with the influence of soils on living things, in particular plants. Edaphology looks at how soil influences man’s use of land for plant growth. Agricultural soil science is the application of soil chemistry, physics and biology in the production of crops. Physical edaphology is associated with crop irrigation and drainage.
Soil surveying is the process of determining the soil types or other properties of the soil over a specific region. These results are then mapped for an ease of understanding. Soil surveying relies on distinguishing the individual influences of the five classic soil forming factors. This can be done through geomorphology, physical geography and the analysis of vegetation and land-use patterns.