Sophie 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.
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.
If you want to know what a horticultural technician does, visit http://movingonmagazine.co.uk/a-career-as-a-horticultural-technician/ and to find out more about horticultural careers including horticultural apprenticeships visit www.growcareers.info/go/horticultural_apprenticeships/