Soil Profile on Chalk at Seven Sisters Country Park, England
Soil Profile on Chalk at Seven Sisters Country Park, England

Pedology (from Greek: πέδον, pedon, "soil"; and λόγος, logos, "study") is a discipline within soil science which focuses on understanding and characterizing soil formation, evolution, and the theoretical frameworks for modeling soil bodies, often in the context of the natural environment.[1] Pedology is often seen as one of two main branches of soil inquiry, the other being edaphology which is traditionally more agronomically oriented and focuses on how soil properties influence plant communities (natural or cultivated). In studying the fundamental phenomenology of soils, e.g. soil formation (aka pedogenesis), pedologists pay particular attention to observing soil morphology and the geographic distributions of soils, and the placement of soil bodies into larger temporal and spatial contexts. In so doing, pedologists develop systems of soil classification, soil maps, and theories for characterizing temporal and spatial interrelations among soils . There are a few noteworthy sub-disciplines of pedology; namely pedometrics and soil geomorphology. Pedometrics focuses on the development of techniques for quantitative characterization of soils, especially for the purposes of mapping soil properties[2] whereas soil geomorphology studies the interrelationships between geomorphic processes and soil formation.[3]


Soil is not only a support for vegetation, but it is also the pedosphere, the locus of numerous interactions between climate (water, air, temperature), soil life (micro-organisms, plants, animals) and its residues, the mineral material of the original and added rock, and its position in the landscape. During its formation and genesis, the soil profile slowly deepens and develops characteristic layers, called 'horizons', while a steady state balance is approached.

Soil users (such as agronomists) showed initially little concern in the dynamics of soil. They saw it as medium whose chemical, physical and biological properties were useful for the services of agronomic productivity.[4] On the other hand, pedologists and geologists did not initially focus on the agronomic applications of the soil characteristics (edaphic properties) but upon its relation to the nature and history of landscapes. Today, there is an integration of the two disciplinary approaches as part of landscape and environmental sciences.

Pedologists are now also interested in the practical applications of a good understanding of pedogenesis processes (the evolution and functioning of soils), like interpreting its environmental history and predicting consequences of changes in land use, while agronomists understand that the cultivated soil is a complex medium, often resulting from several thousands of years of evolution. They understand that the current balance is fragile and that only a thorough knowledge of its history makes it possible to ensure its sustainable use.


Important pedological concepts include:[5][6][7]

Notable pedologists

See also


  1. ^ Ronald Amundsen. "Soil Preservation and the Future of Pedology" (PDF). Retrieved 2006-06-08.
  2. ^ Heuvelink, Gerard (December 2003). "The Definition of Pedometrics" (PDF). Pedometron. International Working Group on Pedometrics - Provisional Commission on Pedometrics of the International Union of Soil Sciences (15). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2006-11-01.
  3. ^ Gerrard, John (1993), "Soil geomorphology — Present dilemmas and future challenges", Geomorphology: the Research Frontier and Beyond, Elsevier, pp. 61–84, doi:10.1016/b978-0-444-89971-2.50008-0, ISBN 978-0-444-89971-2, retrieved 2020-09-23
  4. ^ Saltini Antonio, Storia delle scienze agrarie, 4 vols, Bologna 1984-89, ISBN 88-206-2412-5, ISBN 88-206-2413-3, ISBN 88-206-2414-1, ISBN 88-206-2415-X
  5. ^ Buol, Stanley W., F,D. Hole and R.W. McCracken. 1997. Soil Genesis and Classification, 4th ed. Iowa State Univ. Press, Ames ISBN 0-8138-2873-2
  6. ^ Hole Francis D., J.B. Campbell. 1985. Soil landscape analysis. Totowa Rowman & Allanheld, 214 p. ISBN 0-86598-140-X
  7. ^ Bockheim, J.G.; Gennadiyev, A.N.; Hammer, R.D.; Tandarich, J.P. (January 2005). "Historical development of key concepts in pedology" (PDF). Geoderma. 124 (1–2): 23–36. doi:10.1016/j.geoderma.2004.03.004. Retrieved 2 March 2016.