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Delvo
2009-Apr-19, 12:41 PM
Is there no name for the science of soil? When I took a class on soils in college (with my major in forestry), I don't think I ever saw or heard one. The word "agronomy" was occasionally associated with it, but I later found out that that was the science of farming/agriculture, not soil. When I do see or hear references to soil science, it's just described as "soil science", and the people researching it are simply called "soil scientists".

I don't know of any other established area of science with only an English descriptive phrase instead of a more conventional name like biology and paleontology. I'm not even sure how you could make one for soil. Names of soil types tend to end with "-sol", so "solology" fits, but the root makes it look like it would be the study of the sun. Using "terra" makes sense, but the word would be awkward for syllable emphasis and troublesome with that final vowel, unless you make up a consonant to put between the pieces. The Greek root for "geo" and "gaia" might work, if those weren't both already taken. How about "micropetrology"? (Soil is essentially a lot of tiny stones...)

Is this word-construction trouble the reason why the field seems to have no name?

And if you were looking for a university program in which to study soil, what name would you look for on their websites or in their written publications to find that department? Do they really just call it "soil science" even in official context? Is there no such separate department, so the soil scientists all have to get lumped into the agronomy/agriculture department instead (even if their work is not about farms)?

01101001
2009-Apr-19, 01:54 PM
Wikipedia: Soil science (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soil_science)


Soil science is the study of soil as a natural resource on the surface of the earth including soil formation, classification and mapping; physical, chemical, biological, and fertility properties of soils; and these properties in relation to the use and management of soils.
Sometimes terms which refer to branches of soil science, such as pedology (formation, chemistry, morphology and classification of soil) and edaphology (influence of soil on organisms, especially plants), are used as if synonymous with soil science. The diversity of names associated with this discipline is related to the various associations concerned. Indeed, engineers, agronomists, chemists, geologists, geographers, biologists, microbiologists, sylviculturists, sanitarians, archaeologists, and specialists in regional planning, all contribute to further knowledge of soils and the advancement of the soil sciences.
[...]
Soil occupies the pedosphere, one of Earth's spheres that the geosciences use to organize the Earth conceptually. This is the conceptual perspective of pedology and edaphology, the two main branches of soil science. Pedology is the study of soil in its natural setting. Edaphology is the study of soil in relation to soil-dependent uses. Both branches apply a combination of soil physics, soil chemistry, and soil biology.

tdvance
2009-Apr-19, 06:13 PM
What, no greek-latinish high-falutin-sounding name? Might as well call it "dirt studies".

Torsten
2009-Apr-20, 04:47 AM
At the university I attended, the courses were simply called "SOIL ###", and at the time they were offered by the Faculty of Agriculture, which it seems has since been renamed the Faculty of Land and Food Systems. The basic SOIL 200 course was a prerequisite to several other courses in the Faculty of Forestry, in which I was enrolled.

Delvo's OP is interesting to me because I once wondered the same thing, but didn't pursue the question. Instead, I reasoned that since the basic unit of soil description is called a pedon, the study of pedons must be pedology! 01101001's link shows the error of my reasoning.

But, tdvance, I recall that our unofficial name for the soils course was simply "Dirt".

Jens
2009-Apr-20, 04:57 AM
I don't know of any other established area of science with only an English descriptive phrase instead of a more conventional name like biology and paleontology.

It may depend on how you define "established area" and "English," but "political science" seems like a descriptive phrase (neglecting the question of whether politics is an English word; I think it is). But what about fields like "art history" or "sports science"? Or all the fields like "African Studies" and "East Asian Studies" or more generally, "area studies."? I don't know if it is such an unusual thing to not have an -omy at the end of a discipline.

Gillianren
2009-Apr-20, 05:37 AM
As to whether "politics" is an English word or not, it's just as much so as, say, "moose." Its origins are not, but it's been in use long enough!

Gender studies. Film studies. Literary criticism. Art history. Sciences? No. True. Then again, how about "statistics"?

grant hutchison
2009-Apr-20, 12:55 PM
What, no greek-latinish high-falutin-sounding name? Might as well call it "dirt studies".Pedology is the recognized word designating the study of soil, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. But 01101001's link makes it clear that pedologists recognize subdisciplines within their science, one of which they call pedology.
This happens a lot. When you study medicine at medical school, you study a lot of subdisciplines, one of which is medicine (which is differentiated from surgery, paediatrics, obstetrics, anaesthesia, etc). It's confusing for bystanders.

Grant Hutchison

MAPNUT
2009-Apr-20, 04:46 PM
How about loose geology?

hhEb09'1
2009-Apr-20, 04:59 PM
Is this word-construction trouble the reason why the field seems to have no name?This isn't rocket science, which is also know as...

No, not astrophyics. Not astrodynamics. That's not what I'm tlalking about.

MAPNUT
2009-Apr-20, 05:13 PM
Of course, rocket science isn't really a science, it's engineering. It's putting together a bunch of sciences to achieve designs that work.

Probably soil science is the same way, depending on to what use you put the knowledge. There are engineering properties of soils (density, bearing strength, permeability) and agronomic properties (name some), and - what else?

JohnD
2009-Apr-20, 10:48 PM
I don't think I'd announce myself as a 'pedologist' today.
Not when 'paediatricians' have been pilloried, despite their entirely different study of children.

It's a sad, mad world, my masters.

John

slang
2009-Apr-20, 11:05 PM
Soilology. Proposed mostly to hear some inebriated person saying it.

hhEb09'1
2009-Apr-20, 11:33 PM
I don't think I'd announce myself as a 'pedologist' today.
Not when 'paediatricians' have been pilloried, despite their entirely different study of children.

It's a sad, mad world, my masters.
Of course! it should be called sodology, the study of sod

jlhredshift
2009-Apr-20, 11:35 PM
I think the general term would be "sedimentology" or "Sedimentary Geology". Also there are two organizations:

Soil Science Society of America

and

SEPM; Society for Sedimentary Geology

Both of which study soil and its' lithology.

aurora
2009-Apr-21, 01:43 AM
We studied soils in Sedimentology class, so to me soils is a subset of Sedimentary Geology.

novaderrik
2009-Apr-23, 04:34 PM
dirtology

Argos
2009-Apr-23, 04:42 PM
In my neck of the woods the study of the soil is linked to geology and agronomy, with a prevalence of the latter.

geonuc
2009-Apr-23, 04:45 PM
We studied soils in Sedimentology class, so to me soils is a subset of Sedimentary Geology.
Yes, that's where I learned the little I know about soils.

mike alexander
2009-Apr-23, 06:04 PM
Wasn't that the Frank Sinatra song about the river and the continental shelf?

"I'm getting sediment all over you..."