Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Getting to know you. Getting to know all about soil resources.

At about 11pm last night, I looked at my phone in a sleepy haze to discover a long Tweet thread on soil.

Considering the pillow or reading the thread, I quickly chose my love: soil.

@dyerjonathan @heatherbray6 @wheatman01 @LClaessen @simmycattleau were all talking about resources as an introduction to soil biology.

From this passionate discussion (which I was very sad to have missed!), I thought I'd share a few of my favourite soil resources.

These are all resources I use regularly for checking stuff, understanding a concept or delving into more theory/practice. Some are also fun resources, where you also get to learn! Resources will vary on age appropriateness, specific interests, cost, background/prior knowledge, country of origin etc, and I will try to give a bit of a description of them as well.

And if you have any favourites of your own, please share!

All things soil
Oz Soils is at UNE is an online interactive tool for an introduction to soils. I have previously written about this and their other platform here. I love anything interactive, and I think both big and small alike will enjoy this.

The Story of Soil, and initiative by the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) is another great introduction into what soil is and why it is important. It is free! and I think suitable for all ages.

I also have a soft spot for Dirt! The Movie and Hope in a Changing Climate; both excellent films on all things soil.

The Fed Gov,  NSW DPI and VIC DPI have some great soil webpages. They include from learning about all sorts of aspects on soil (chem, bio, phys etc), to managing and testing them in your own backyard.

I really love the open access, learning style and communication of soil blogs, and I would never go past checking them out!

And same with Twitter! I have a soils list of tweeps that anyone can follow.

The SSSA also has some online resources for different ages of school kids, as does the Uni of Western Australia. But, they look like fun to me! :D

You can also try the Open Access soil journals for specific studies or curiosity. Other journals that are not completely open access, but do allow for open access, can usually be found in Google Scholar. I tend to reach for books before papers if I want to understand a concept. Papers often assume prior knowledge and books don't. Some of these journals are aimed at land managers, and others aim at scientists. Beware the jargon *yawn*

New Soil Net and Soil Scientists are currently the only soil wikis online (that I can find). They currently only have a few members, but I think there is a lot of promise if other soil scientists/enthusiasts get involved. Wikipedia also has great articles about specific soil issues. Whilst I would never reference a wiki, they are great places to start learning and then to research/read further.

Soil Chemistry
Soil chemistry is a tricky subject to point at one particular reference. Unless you know what soil chemistry and tests you are after, it is hard to find a fundamental place to start.

I either Google/Wikipedia things I am interested in, or go to books/papers.

Some books I really like include:
Soil Chemistry by SSSA (good theory and comparisons of tests)
Soil Chemical Methods - Australiasia by CSIRO (less theory, more tests)
Interpreting soil test results: What do all the numbers mean? a CSIRO publication (theory and interpretation)
Two sodic soil books: International and Australia (theory, practice and management)
Forests soils and nutrient cycles (this is an oldie, but a good place to start if you can find it)

Soil Biology
Living Soils at UNE is another interactive online system for learning about soil biology. I have previously written about this and their other platform here. I love anything interactive, and I think both big and small alike will enjoy this.

The Microbe Wiki has some great sections on all types of soil biology, including flooded soil microbiology. Wikis are great introductions and explanations to launch into further learning.

I haven't used many soil biology books (mainly relied on papers)... so I can't really recommend any. However, you should ask @dannicarno or others on Twitter.

Soil Physics
Soil physics can be pretty heavy going! I really struggle with the maths and terms sometimes.

Again, I'd ask Wikipedia/the web first, then maybe try books. This is a good book for tests and explanations: Soil Physical Measurement and Land Evaluation.

Does anyone else have suggestions?

Other General Soil Books I like
Australian Soils and Landscapes by CSIRO
Soils: Their properties and management an OUP publication on Australian soils
CSIRO have some great soil books, CDs/DVDs on almost any soil topic!

Happy soil-ing!

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