Advancing the frontiers of soil science towards a geoscience

Larry P. Wilding, Henry Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


The visions, directions, and images of soil science are changing. Historically, soil science has followed a circuitous path in its evolution from a discipline with foundational roots in geology, to an applied agricultural and environmental discipline, and now to a bio- and geo-science through the Earth's Critical Zone investigations. This closes the loop or spiral, but along the way, soil science has become more comprehensive, extensive, integrative, analytical, and quantitative. In spite of the challenges described in this paper, now is a golden era for soil science to integrate its expertise more closely with other bio- and geo-sciences. This will significantly enhance the opportunity to obtain extramural funding and public support, as well as the advancement of soil science. As such, soil science needs to vigorously become more interactive and extend its role beyond traditional agriculture. The knowledge of spatial soil diversity and landscape dynamics is a fundamental underpinning critical to the success of this venture. Pedology, as a unique subdiscipline of soil science, contributes inordinately to Earth science, including, for example, elucidation of field variability, surficial weathering processes, Earth system dynamics, and vadose zone flow and transport. With the blooming of hydrogeosciences, hydropedology is a timely addition in this era of interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, and systems approaches for developing comprehensive prioritization of science and applications in Earth science. Hydropedology has a niche in this march with other bio- and geo-sciences in addressing global Earth science priorities. Soil scientists support changing paradigms and favor closer linkages with the bio- and geo-sciences community. In this regard, hydropedology has a unique role to play.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-274
Number of pages18
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Apr 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Soil Science


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