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What Does A Soil Scientist Do?

Soil scienceSophie Barnes, student and guest writer for Moving On magazine investigates – what does a soil scientist do?

The role of a soil scientist goes beyond analysing and interpreting soil. Soil scientists are responsible for knowing the ground we walk on and this includes understanding the history and origins of soil, sustainability impacts, human health, and agricultural production. A soil scientist studies the properties of soil and provides information that helps to find solutions to issues such as crop production, pollution control and soil degradation.

Pedology is the study of soils in their natural environment
The work of a soil scientist is diverse and covers pedology, soil physics, soil chemistry, soil biology, soil mineralogy and soil survey and land evaluation. Whilst a soil scientist will study and understand all of these different areas they will usually specialise in one or two of these.

Soil scientists are often in demand from government departments because the role is so specific. Departments that require input from a soil scientist include land management, ecosystems and the environment agency. As consultants in their field of expertise soil scientists can advise engineers, ecologists, geologists and hydrologists on landscape, sustainability and environmental processes that may impact a project.

What study do I need to do to become a soil scientist?

You will need a degree to work as a soil scientist and universities will ask for maths and science subjects (biology, chemistry and physics) as part of the entry requirements so you need to choose your A-levels carefully.

Where can I study soil science?

The only UK university that offers specific undergraduate degree courses in plant and soil science in the University of Aberdeen but the other option is to choose a more generic undergraduate degree such as biology, geology or chemistry and then specialise by studying for a master’s degree, which is postgraduate, in soil science.

Soil scientists play an important role in surveying suitable land for wind farms and often consult with government departments on the installation of pipelines and power cables. The profession is growing and in a time of climate change and limited sustainable resources, the experience and expertise of soil scientists is valued and in demand more than ever before.

What will I earn as a soil scientist?

As a soil scientist you could expect to earn an average starting salary of £16,000 – £22,000, working hours can be long and laboratory and field work might require working at the weekend.

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soil scientist

Sophie Barnes is a guest feature writer for our February issue

About Lynette Daly

Lynette is the publishing editor of Moving On magazine. Moving On is devoted to helping young people make good choices for their future – education, qualifications and careers. Moving On really wants to motivate you! Our articles cover a range of topics to inspire and give ideas. Our magazines are delivered free to all schools, colleges and sixth forms in England and is also available online.

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