Pedology (soil study)

The soil science, soil science or pedology ( pedon of Greek πέδον, soil ' and λόγος lógos ' doctrine ' ), rare Edaphologie ( altgr. ἔδαφος edaphos, soil '), is a science that deals with the soil formation from the rock subsoil, the soil development, soil particles, soil properties and soil classification concerned.

As ground or crumb denote Pedologen the top, usually highly animated and porous decimeter the earth's surface, in which the plants are rooted. Soils arise from the underlying rock by weathering and the activity of soil organisms.

History and Definition

The Soil Science established itself as a separate scientific discipline in the 19th century, including the Russian geographer and geologist Vasily Vasilievich Dokuchaev and also Charles Darwin made ​​a decisive contribution. In the 20th century in Europe, broken down by soil types, soil mapping to a widely recognized national task and is today seen also in the context of the problem areas Water and Environmental Protection, targeted ( economical ) fertilization and promotion of location-specific ( near-natural ) vegetation. Since about 1985, it was therefore started in the German-speaking countries to develop official soil information systems (see GeoLIS and space -related information system, RIS).

The term soil is used quite differently in the various earth sciences. The Soil Science defines the term ( according to Winfried Blum 1986, University of Agricultural Sciences, Vienna ) as the highest, averaging about one meter thick layer of the earth's surface as follows:

"Soils are up to the rock reaching from the earth's surface, in horizons ( stratigraphy ) articulated, life- filled and reactive loose blankets that by converting inorganic and organic precursors - have been created and in which these conversion processes continue - with the supply of energy and materials from the atmosphere expire. "

Since soils from solid, gaseous and liquid phase exist, they represent a three-phase, dynamic, geo - and bioökologisches system

Interdisciplinary Science

The soil science is an interdisciplinary science that uses knowledge and methods from various disciplines. These include

  • The basic sciences of physics, chemistry and biochemistry,
  • The life sciences Botany, Zoology and Microbiology,
  • The Earth sciences, especially geology, mineralogy, geography and hydrology,
  • As well as the forestry and agricultural sciences, especially agriculture, crop production, plant nutrition and fertilization, Forestry and Rural Engineering.
  • In the course of modern analysis and analysis methods and geographic information systems as well as the agricultural and geoscientific remote sensing methods play an increasingly important role.

The knowledge of soil science are in ecology, agriculture and forestry is of fundamental importance. The latter deal with the culture medium, which is the foundation of human survival since the beginnings of agriculture in the Neolithic period.

Based on the traditional soil classification a view of the bottom has evolved as Geoökosystem in forestry science. The predictions on the impacts of anthropogenic element entries on the bioelement balance of soils have been confirmed by long-term studies.

The Soil Science provides - in the context of materials science - including soil mechanics, erdstatische and hydrometric basis for the geotechnical and structural engineering, as they are required in foundation engineering.

Importance for environmental protection

Soil protection, ie sustainable preservation of the functionality of the soil, they back up or restore primarily by " good practice " is enshrined inter alia in the German Federal Soil Protection Act ( Federal Soil Protection Act ). For this harmful soil changes should be avoided or redevelop continuing negative functionality if necessary. The negative changes in addition to mechanical compaction and chemical contaminants from contaminated sites and water pollution caused by this are counted. An excessive anthropogenic stress leads to these degradations, the increasingly through soil erosion (see Dust Bowl ), soil sealing or declining soil fertility can be measured. For impacts on the soil to attacks upon his natural functions and its role as an archive of natural and cultural history should be as far as possible avoided.


Soil science is usually taught interdisciplinary in Germany. The advanced master's program " land use and soil protection" Hochschule Osnabrück placing soil in the center. At the University of Hohenheim, you can study Agricultural Sciences Soil Sciences as a depression in the Bachelor's and the Master's program. Soil Science curricula are taught in the basic and advanced courses such as forestry, geography, geo-ecology, agriculture, forestry and environmental sciences.