During this International Year of Soils it has been exciting to see innovative contributions by New Zealand soil scientists advancing soil research.
This issue of Soil Horizons shows how our traditional approaches to soil science, collecting data, research – and even the way we view soil – have changed. Rapid advances in technology are opening many new soil research opportunities, and these advances are combining with the soil scientist’s traditional skills. Soil science is not being left behind or superseded by technology but is using it in current thinking.
Parallel with this development are increasing demands on the finite soil resource and competition for the land of our “talented” soils. The fundamental change from working with an abundant soils resource to struggling to meet multiple demands allows soil scientists to inform on efficient use of the soil resource and promote its value for its environmental as well as productive functions.
Innovations shaping our field include data capture technologies (such as scanning techniques for assessing soil morphological characteristics or video use to assess erosion in hard-to-access areas) and the application of large datasets to digital soil mapping. The common theme, however, is that technology cannot and will not replace the expertise of the soil scientist.
Wise use of soil information requires access to our soil data through electronic maps and improved national soils data, applied at all scales, from the farm, through catchments, to a national and international level. Such data and contributing research underpin the tools needed to integrate soil management across all land uses, to value soils for their full range of functions in the landscape, and to appreciate their contribution to our country’s future prosperity.
Reece Hill 2015
President of The New Zealand Society of Soil Science
Autobiography and Reflection - Reece Hill
Dr Reece Hill is a soil scientist at Waikato Regional Council and current President of the New Zealand Society of Soil Science. A graduate of Lincoln University, Dr Hill has worked as a soil scientist in New Zealand and Australia for 20 years. His interests include soil mapping, soil-landscape modelling, and the interpretation of land resource information for catchment modelling and policy development. “What got me into soils? Marveling at the story a soil profile can tell”.