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Welcome to Soil Horizons

Soil Horizons is our annual newsletter showcasing our work in soil-related research.

Topics covered by Soil Horizons include soil mapping and landscape modelling, land management practices, soil quality, nutrient and sediment losses from land to water, new technologies, contaminants, erosion, carbon, and greenhouse gases.

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Issue 32, October 2023

This issue of Soil Horizons showcases recent research on developing practical tools to help end-users. We include guidance for managing ‘surplus soil’ (derived from infrastructure development or natural processes such as sediment deposition) and describe a farmer-friendly infiltrometer to measure soil water infiltration.

There are two new web services: one for land-use capability and one that provides fascinating insights into our Antarctic soil's heritage and early exploration. New Zealand’s most favourable soils for food and fibre production need safeguarding, so the tools on the new land-use capability site will help councils to zone their highly productive land.

We provide stories on enhancing S-map (New Zealand’s digital soil map), including how the complex array of soils is being mapped on Banks Peninsula, the use of proximal sensing to improve S-map in Marlborough, and keeping our team’s soil description skills up to date. Some of Marlborough’s very stony soils are challenging to dig, so new techniques were adapted from precision agriculture to overcome the problem.

We also present work on the development of a plant growth chamber for investigating future climate conditions.

John Drewry
Senior Researcher - Soil Physics

Issue 31, November 2022

This issue of Soil Horizons presents recent research on soil carbon, impacts of climate change on erosion, irrigation, measuring drainage losses, farm-scale mapping, predicting soil mapping using tephra, soil health, and nitrous oxide emissions.

Issue 30, November 2021

The front of Soil Horizons Issue 1, from April 1997.

The front of Soil Horizons Issue 1, from April 1997.

This issue of Soil Horizons is our 30th. The first issue of Soil Horizons, published in April 1997, was aimed at communicating our soils-related research to stakeholders, customers, and colleagues. It still is.

A review of Issue 1 shows articles on nitrate in soils, greenhouse gases, soil quality indicators, erosion, the National Soils Database, contamination, nematodes, and soil records. Issue 1 also had a feature on the soil chemistry and soil physics laboratories in Palmerston North and Hamilton.

Many of these topics sound familiar! Nitrate losses, greenhouse gases, soil quality, erosion, and soil contamination are key topics today, 24 years on, with several large current research programmes in action.

Issue 30 has articles on several topics that were in Issue 1. We have an article on ‘reducing nitrogen losses from farms’ – from a co-author also featured in Issue 1. Other articles include soil quality, and the use of technology to better understand erosion and soil conservation mitigation, and soil moisture. Issue 1 had an article on the ‘National Soils Database,’ an essential inter-generational resource that now supports S-map and various research directions. So, this year, we have two articles on S-map – one on using field and digital techniques to improve mapping in the Wairarapa, and the other on developing a ‘landform trees’ tool.

Issue 1 had a feature on the South Pacific laboratories network. Issue 30 has an article on the Pacific Soils Portal to make soils information more widely available.

Our other articles this year include ‘land fragmentation’, and a book review of ‘The Soils of Aotearoa New Zealand’.

Many thanks to the teams who have contributed to research and writing in all 30 issues of Soil Horizons!

John Drewry, Editor.

Issue 29, October 2020

This issue of Soil Horizons presents recent research, tools and support in S-map, detecting erosion, effects of dung beetles and lucerne management on nutrient leaching, changes in soil properties, the role of soil laboratories for supporting research, and a new book release.

Issue 28, December 2019

This issue of Soil Horizons explores soils and their influence on water from micro-scale to farm- and national-scale, and ways to improve the management of our soil resource. We present key research findings on the importance of soil health, finite high-class soils, improving S-map to aid the management of irrigation and erosion control, soil ecological guidelines for trace elements, and new soil monitoring and management tools.

Issue 27, October 2018

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