1st Edition

The Soil Underfoot Infinite Possibilities for a Finite Resource

Edited By G. Jock Churchman, Edward R. Landa Copyright 2014
    472 Pages 29 Color & 121 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    The largest part of the world’s food comes from its soils, either directly from plants, or via animals fed on pastures and crops. Thus, it is necessary to maintain, and if possible, improve the quality—and hence good health—of soils, while enabling them to support the growing world population. The Soil Underfoot: Infinite Possibilities for a Finite Resource arms readers with historical wisdom from various populations around the globe, along with current ideas and approaches for the wise management of soils. It covers the value of soils and their myriad uses viewed within human and societal contexts in the past, present, and supposed futures.

    In addition to addressing the technical means of maintaining soils, this book presents a culturally and geographically diverse collection of historical attitudes to soils, including philosophical and ethical frameworks, which have either sustained them or led to their degradation. Section I describes major challenges associated with climate change, feeding the increasing world population, chemical pollution and soil degradation, and technology. Section II discusses various ways in which soils are, or have been, valued—including in film and contemporary art as well as in religious and spiritual philosophies, such as Abrahamic religions, Maori traditions, and in Confucianism.

    Section III provides stories about soil in ancient and historic cultures including the Roman Empire, Greece, India, Japan, Korea, South America, New Zealand, the United States, and France. Section IV describes soil modification technologies, such as polymer membrane barriers, and soil uses outside commercial agriculture including the importance of soils for recreation and sports grounds. The final section addresses future strategies for more effective sustainable use of soils, emphasizing the biological nature of soils and enhancing the use of "green water" retained from rainfall.

    Section I Future Challenges
    Climate Change: An Underfoot Perspective?
    Kevin R. Tate and Benny K. G. Theng
    Soils and the Future of Food: Challenges and Opportunities for Feeding Nine Billion People
    Sharon J. Hall
    Soil Loss
    Nikolaus J. Kuhn
    The Finite Soil Resource for Sustainable Development: The Case of Taiwan
    Zeng-Yei Hseu and Zueng-Sang Chen
    The Far Future of Soil
    Peter K. Haff

    Section II Valuing Soils
    Seeing Soil
    Deborah Koons Garcia
    Picturing Soil: Aesthetic Approaches to Raising Soil Awareness in Contemporary Art
    Alexandra Toland and Gerd Wessolek
    Principles for Sustaining Sacred Soil
    Norman Habel
    Indigenous Māori Values, Perspectives, and Knowledge of Soils in Aotearoa-New Zealand: Beliefs, and Concepts of Soils, the Environment, and Land
    Garth Harmsworth and Nick Roskruge
    Integrative Development between Soil Science and Confucius’ Philosophy
    Xinhua Peng
    Soil: Natural Capital Supplying Valuable Ecosystem Services
    Brent Clothier and Mary Beth Kirkham

    Section III Culture and History
    Bread and Soil in Ancient Rome: A Vision of Abundance and an Ideal of Order Based on Wheat, Grapes, and Olives
    Bruce R. James, Winfried E. H. Blum, and Carmelo Dazzi
    The Anatolian Soil Concept of the Past and Today
    Erhan Akça and Selim Kapur
    Deconstructing the Leipsokouki: A Million Years (Or So) of Soils and Sediments in Rural Greece
    Richard B. Doyle and Mary E. Savina
    Knowledge of Soil and Land in Ancient Indian Society
    Pichu Rengasamy
    The Evolution of Paddy Rice and Upland Cropping in Japan with Reference to Soil Fertility and Taxation
    Masanori Okazaki and Koyo Yonebayashi
    Importance of Soils in Farming-Centric Lessons for Life and Culture in Korea
    Rog-Young Kim, Su-Jung Kim, E. Jin Kim, and Jae E. Yang
    Terra Preta:
    The Mysterious Soils of the Amazon
    Antoinette M. G. A. WinklerPrins
    Modern Landscape Management Using Andean Technology Developed by the Inca Empire
    Francisco Mamani-Pati, David E. Clay, and Hugh Smeltekop
    Indigenous Māori Values, Perspectives, and Knowledge of Soils in Aotearoa-New Zealand: B. Māori Use and Knowledge of Soils over Time
    Garth Harmsworth and Nick Roskruge
    Potash, Passion, and a President: Early Twentieth-Century Debates on Soil Fertility in the United States
    Edward R. Landa
    Soil and Salts in Bernard Palissy’s (1510–1590) View: Was he the Pioneer of the Mineral Theory of Plant Nutrition?
    Christian Feller and Jean-Paul Aeschlimann

    Section IV Technologies and Uses
    Poetry in Motions: The Soil Excreta Cycle
    Rebecca Lines-Kelly
    Global Potential for a New Subsurface Water Retention Technology: Converting Marginal Soil into Sustainable Plant Production
    Alvin J. M. Smucker and Bruno Basso
    Double Loop Learning in a Garden
    Richard Stirzaker
    Valuing the Soil: Connecting Land, People, and Nature in Scotland
    John E. Gordon, Patricia M. C. Bruneau, and Vanessa Brazier
    Sports Surface Design: The Purposeful Manipulation of Soils
    Richard Gibbs

    Section V Future Strategies
    Soil Biophysics: The Challenges
    Iain M. Young and John W. Crawford
    Life in Earth: A Truly Epic Production
    Karl Ritz
    Sustaining "The Genius of Soils"
    Garrison Sposito



    G. Jock Churchman holds a BSc(Hons) and a PhD in chemistry from Otago University in his native New Zealand, and a BA(Hons) in philosophy from Flinders University of South Australia. He was a post-doctoral fellow in the Soils Department of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was then employed in the New Zealand Soil Bureau, DSIR for 16 years and in CSIRO Division of Soils (later Land and Water) for 14 years. He also held visiting fellowships at Reading University (1 year) and the University of Western Australia (6 months). Currently he is adjunct senior lecturer in soils at the University of Adelaide and part-time associate professor in the Centre for Environment Risk Assessment and Remediation at the University of South Australia. His research has been centered on clays. He is currently (2010–2014) chair of the IUSS Commission on the History, Philosophy and Sociology of Soil Science.

    Edward R. Landa holds an MS and PhD in soil science from the University of Minnesota, and is an adjunct professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Technology at the University of Maryland, College Park. His work at the U.S. Geological Survey from 1978 to 2013 focused on the fate and transport of radionuclides and metals in soils and aquatic systems. Throughout his career, Ed has had an active interest in the history of science and technology, and has published on the radium extraction industry, description of color in science and art, and depictions of soils in films. He co-edited Soil and Culture (Springer, 2010) with Christian Feller, and has served as the chair (2006–2010) and vice chair (2010–2014) of the Commission on the History, Philosophy, and Sociology of Soil Science of the International Union of Soil Sciences.

    "…the book includes a varied selection of papers and should encourage soil scientists to have a wider perspective on their subject."
    —D.A. Davidson, in European Journal of Soil Science