Pedology: How to Become a Soil Pedologist?

7 minute read

“The soil is the great connector of our lives, the source, and destination of all.” – Wendell Berry. Soil is the root of the earth’s environment and is also the source of our basic living essentials, be it water, food or shelter. Amongst the two chief branches of Soil Science, Pedology is concerned with the study of different kinds of soils in their natural surroundings. With the hazardous impact of pollution on our planet’s atmosphere, soil contamination is amongst the grave issues which still need to be fully addressed. Also connected with Environmental Engineering and Agricultural Engineering, scientists working under this domain strive towards bringing better and advanced technologies to secure the fertility of this natural resource while also incorporating efficient agricultural practices. Read on to know more about pedology & pedologist, courses offered in this domain, top universities as well as its career scope!

What is Pedology?

Pedology is a science that studies all aspects of soils, including their physical and chemical characteristics, the involvement of organisms in soil production and character, the description and mapping of soil units, and the genesis and development of soils. As a result, pedology is divided into three subdisciplines: soil chemistry, soil physics, and soil microbiology.

Each uses a complex set of procedures and laboratory equipment similar to that used in research of non-soil systems physics, chemistry, or microbiology. Soil sampling, description, and mapping, on the other hand, are much easier. In areas where there is no subsurface exposure, a soil auger is utilized to gather core samples, and the soil units are identified, demarcated, and mapped in a way similar to stratigraphic techniques. In reality, such soils investigations overlap the concerns of both the stratigrapher and the geologist, who may both regard the soil layers as Quaternary Period strata (from 2.6 million years ago to the present).

Concepts Used In Pedology

Many notions are beneficial to pedologists in their work. The first is that soils serve as a link between numerous earth layers, including the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere. As a result, everyone working in the field should be familiar with hydrology, geology, biology, and other earth and natural sciences. In addition, to foresee future changes in the soil, sciences relevant to the understanding of soil DNA, such as glacial geology, paleoecology, and others, are required. Soil formation processes sometimes referred to as pedogenic processes, have the ability to both destroy and produce order in soil. These processes of creation and destruction can occur simultaneously at times. Finally, both in the past and now, pedologists can determine the amount of equilibrium between the two processes.

Uniformitarianism is a geological idea that argues that the same processes and natural laws that exist now were present in the past. This notion also holds true in the field of pedology. The intensity and degree of these processes, however, are acknowledged to vary. There are just a few soils that may be considered ancient from a geological standpoint. Because soils are exposed to the earth’s surface, they are continually being destroyed or transformed by a variety of events. The few ancient soils, on the other hand, aid specialists in their understanding of climatic change throughout time.

How to Become a Soil Pedologist?

The processes to becoming a soil pedologist are outlined here.

A Bachelor’s Degree is a great way to start your career.

The majority of soil pedologists hold a bachelor’s degree. While soil science programs are available, a related major, such as agricultural science, may be adequate. Hydrology, soil biology, soil physics, plant physiology, soil pollution, meteorology, and agricultural production are all topics included in a soil science program. Graduates of a bachelor’s degree program might work as soil scientists for conservation, consultancy, or environmental science firms, among other places.

Obtain Professional Experience

Certain states need soil scientists to be licensed, and this procedure often necessitates prior experience working under the supervision of a more experienced soil scientist. Aspiring soil pedologists might work as assistants or associates, collecting field samples and evaluating the results.

Consider a Graduate Degree

Soil scientists with a master’s or doctorate degree in the discipline may be required for more advanced roles, such as those in university and research contexts. Students in soil science master’s degree programs are frequently required to write a thesis, whereas Ph.D. programs generally require applicants to write a dissertation based on original research. Biogeochemistry, soil management, soil microbiology, horticulture, and soil categorization are some of the topics covered in graduate school.

Obtain a licence

Licensing standards differ amongst states that need soil scientists to be licensed. Most employers, however, require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree, job experience and pass a test. Depending on whether the candidate has an undergraduate or graduate degree, the quantity of work experience required may differ.

Obtain a Certificate of Volunteerism

Soil pedologists who want to show their knowledge of soil science can get certified. The Certified Professional Soil Scientist title is offered by the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA). Applicants must pass two tests and have a specified amount of professional experience, which varies based on the degree of education earned, in order to earn certification. To keep their accreditation, certified soil scientists must complete continuing education and pay an annual fee. Obtaining certification may assist soil pedologists in advancing their careers.

Career in Pedology: Overview

Concerned with the multidimensional aspects of soils, Pedology aims to study the physical and chemical attributes along with the role of different organisms in facilitating soil production as well as their impact on the soil character, its origin, and formation. Further, it incorporates an interdisciplinary approach including, soil chemistry, soil microbiology, and soil physics to understand the process in detail. 

Related Read: Irrigation Engineering

What does a Soil Pedologist do?

As a soil scientist specializing in Pedology, you will be expected to analyze several forms of soils in their undisturbed and natural state, carry out classification, and peruse on their formation and morphology. Pedologists also sample and evaluate soil forms to curate better approaches for conserving environmental quality and explore new ways to ameliorate agriculture practices. Some of the other roles and responsibilities of a soil scientist and pedologist have been given a rundown below:

  • Research about soil management systems for their copious forms and classifications.
  • Facilitating the management of soils for various land enhancement activities like landscape design, site restoration, etc.
  • Working towards curation of better practices for natural resource management, especially of forest soils, wetlands, archaeological sites, amongst others.
  • Analysis of soils affected by the application of wastes like non-hazardous materials, residential waster, etc.
  • Carrying out suitability studies for land development utilization and working towards soil stability, moisture retention, sustainability, etc.

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Skills Required for Pedology

In order to pursue a career in Pedology, it is important to be aware of the competencies it demands so that one can work towards skill development to build a successful career in the field. Enlisted are the abilities that every budding soil scientist must have:

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  • Attention to Detail
  • Observational and Analytical Skills
  • Critical Thinking
  • Communication Skills
  • Data Collection and Analysis
  • Familiarisation with computer software like map creation and soil erosion modelling
  • Knowledge of industry-specific tools for soil analysis like pH meters, photometers, etc.

List of Courses & Universities in Pedology

Since Pedology is a part of Soil Science, the academic programs in this specialization are generally provided under its parent branch. Further, one can also opt for degrees in its related branches like BSc Geology, Forestry courses or Geotechnical Engineering to delve deeper into a particular facet of this domain. To help you explore your study options across the globe, we have curated a comprehensive list of some of the major courses offered in Soil Science which you can pursue to specialize in Pedology at bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels.

UniversityRelated Courses in Pedology
University of SaskatchewanB.S.A in Soil Science
Master’s in Soil Science
University of AberdeenBachelor’s in Plant and Social Science
Master’s in Soil Science
Macquarie UniversityBA & BSc with a Major in Environmental Earth Science
Massey UniversityBachelor of Science (Earth Science)
Master of Science in Soil Science
Murdoch UniversityBachelor of Science in Crop and Pasture Science
McGill UniversityBachelor’s in Agro-environmental Sciences
Memorial University of NewfoundlandBachelor’s in Earth Sciences
Cornell UniversityMSc in Soil and Crop Sciences
Scotland’s Rural CollegeMSc in Soil and Sustainability
University of WaikatoMPhil in Earth Sciences
University of OxfordDPhil in Earth Sciences
Imperial College LondonMaster in Soil Mechanics and Environmental Geotechnics

Check Out Our Exclusive List of Top Agriculture Universities!

Career Prospects after Pedology

After attaining a degree in Pedology or related specializations of Soil Science, one can explore a wide range of career prospects in both the public and private sectors and can build a career in Ecology and Environment along with scores of other sectors. Although research and development is a prominent area of work for soil scientists, some of the other major employment sectors under this domain include, environmental and agricultural consulting, land-use planning, sustainable agriculture, soil mapping, fertilizer technology, farming, forestry, waste technology, amongst others. Further, the prominent career profiles in soil science and pedology are also provided below: 

  • Agronomist
  • Pedologist
  • Soil Scientist
  • Environmental Consultant/Lawyer
  • Seed Technologist
  • Soil and Water Conservationist
  • Farmer
  • Land Use Planner
  • Research Laboratory Technician
  • Integrated Pest Management Specialist

Hence, we hope that this blog familiarized you with the imperative features of building a career in Pedology. If you are planning to study a program in Earth Science or its varied specializations, take the assistance of Leverage Edu’s AI-based tool to browse through a plethora of programs and universities and it will help you find the most suitable combination that fits your interests, skills and career aspirations!

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