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Title: Soils - Their Properties and Management. 3e.
Author(s): Peter EV Charman and Brian W Murphy (eds)
Date of Publication: 2007 Publisher: Oxford University Press
Pages:xvii + 461 ISBN: 0 49 551762 8
Price: Format:Paperback
Target Readership Sen Secondary







Content: 1 – The nature of soil; 2 - Forms of erosion; 3 - Soil formation and erosion rates; 4 - Other forms of soil degradation; 5 - The soil profile; 6 - Systems of soil classification; 7 - Soil survey and mapping; 8 - Soils of New South Wales; 9 - Soil landscapes of New South Wales; 10 - Soil physical properties; 11 - Soil engineering properties; 12 - Soil erodibility; 13 - Soil chemical properties; 14 - Soil organic matter; 15 - Soils and rural landscape capability; 16 - Soils and sustainable farming systems; 17 - Soils and rangeland management; 18 - Soils and coastal dune management; 19 - Soils and vegetation; 20 - Soils and their use for earthworks; 21 - Soils and urban land use; 22 - Soil rehabilitation for extractive industries; 23 - Soil health and sustainable development: a concluding perspective.

Review: There is a need for texts which seek to bring together the practical and the theoretical especially in something as fundamental as soil. What we have here is a significant re-working of an original text which brings a lot of new information to light as well as reinforcing key ideas. Despite the title there is one caveat which remains - this is essentially a New South Wales, Australia soil manual and although there is much to be commended, it's focus is essentially this state.

However, this is not always the main focus and there is still a great deal to use. We start with a brief overview of soil formation and the factors behind it acting to set the scene and provide some key terms for the work coming afterwards. The practical focus now becomes evident with four chapter focussed roughly on soil loss and erosion. Whilst it is true that chapter three does mention soil formation it soon continues to look at how, and at what speed, soil is lost. Chapter five marks a change in discussion as we move towards describing soil based on a series of properties. The first aspect then is to describe the soil profile (using the older A,B,C horizon approach rather than the more familiar A,E,B,C seen elsewhere. This is followed by two chapters looking at classification (with a very good section detailing the most common systems and their equivalents - a sort of translation service) and mapping. This leads naturally to a description of a soil system which , as noted earlier, is New South Wales. This is vital for Australia but there are also lessons to be learned elsewhere especially in the area of soil degradation (a major problem in Australia in terms of, for example, acid sulphate soils). Chapter 9 links with this to an analysis of soil landscape regions. Chapter 20 marks another change of focus towards the physical properties of soils. This starts with a look at basic physical properties which is followed by another practical case in terms of soil engineering - the ability of soil to deal with building demands but also a chapter with practical measurement information in it. Chapter 12 marks the return to an earlier theme of soil loss whilst 13 and 14 focus on chemical properties and interactions. From this point, the reader is taken through a series of examples and issues from key soil-land use scenarios. Starting with capability surveys, the contributors move through farming, rangeland and coastal systems which could be considered semi-natural systems. More artificial aspects are then dealt with in studies of revegetation, earthworks, urban land and rehabilitation. A final chapter rounds up key points and examines the way in which we can promote sustainable use.

There is much of interest in this text. It is clearly written and very well illustrated. most of the text is fairly accessible although this is not aimed a beginners in soil studies. There are numerous references for those wishing to get further information. Overall, one of the better books in soil studies with much to commend it. For the UK, its one downside is its state-specific tone however, get beyond this and there is a great deal of information available.





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