Soils: Basic Concepts and Future Challenges
Giacomo Certini, Riccardo Scalenghe

Soils: Basic Concepts and Future Challenges.
Edited by Giacomo Certini and Riccardo Scalenghe
Cambridge University Press, 310 pp., ISNB-13 978-0-521-85173-2 hardback

As might be expected from such a modern publication, this book covers a wide range of topics, contains useful and contemporary information for students and educators as well as for soil scientists. The book is divided into 18 chapters from 23 international contributors.
As the title promises, the book starts with a traditional basic foundation. The first two chapters lead gently into issues concerning the development of soil science from the uppermost tilled layer to complex three-dimensional approaches. Traditionally, soils are considered to encompass mineral, organic, liquid, gaseous and living phase: each of these phases is examined in a separate chapter and are written in a refreshing style, supported by up to date research, which I found enlightening.
Chapters 8-13, which deal with the soil formation, are combinations of traditional approaches augmented by concrete conditions, such as granitic, basaltic or volcanic ash soils.
At first sight, the title for a three hundred page book could be considered overly ambitious, but my impression changed once I had read the final four chapters dealing with soil as limited natural resources, the importance of which are still widely underestimated by society. The attitude of decision makers to the environment is marked by careless confidence and hopefully students who peruse this book will be more thoughtful owners in the near future.
The Appendix is helpful to establish diagnostic horizons or soil names in WRB and Soil Taxonomy and to make an approximate conversion between them. Having the numerous references and proper indexes at hand is a benefit for all readers.
Although this book might not serve as a suitable textbook for undergraduate students, readers with a wide variety of interest in soil will certainly find their favourite chapters in this book.

Arno Kanal
Institute of Geography
University of Tartu
Vanemuise 46 51014


Contents of the book:

  1. Concepts of soils. Richard W. Arnold;
  2. Pedogenic processes and pathways of horizon differentiation. Stanley W. Buol;
  3. Soil phases: the inorganic solid phase. G. Jock Churchman;
  4. Soil phases: the organic solid phase. Claire Chenu;
  5. Soil phases: the liquid phase. Randy A. Dahlgren;
  6. Soil phases: the gaseous phase. Andrey V. Smagin;
  7. Soil phases: the living phase. Oliver Dilly, Eva-Maria Pfeiffer and Ulrich Irmler;
  8. The State Factor theory of soil formation. Ronald Amundson;
  9. Factors of soil formation: parent material. M. Jeff Wilson;
  10. Factors of soil formation: climate. Sadao Shoji, Masami Nanzyo and Tadashi Takahashi;
  11. Factors of soil formation: topography. Robert C. Graham;
  12. Factors of soil formation: biota. Françoise Courchesne;
  13. Factors of soil formation: time. Ewart A. FitzPatrick;
  14. Soil formation on Earth and beyond: the role of additional soil forming factors. Giacomo Certini and Riccardo Scalenghe;
  15. Soil functions and land use. Johan Bouma;
  16. Physical degradation of soils. Michael J. Singer;
  17. Chemical degradation of soils. Peter Blaser;
  18. The future of soil research. Anthony C. Edwards.

    n. 1-3 anno 2006