Progress in Soil Geography I: Reinvigoration

Miller, B.A., E.C. Brevik, P. Pereira, and R.J. Schaetzl. Progress in Soil Geography I: Reinvigoration. Progress in Physical Geography: Earth and Environment 43(6): 827-854. doi: 10.1177/0309133319889048.


The geography of soil is more important today than ever before. Models of environmental systems and myriad direct field applications depend on accurate information about soil properties and their spatial distribution. Many of these applications play a critical role in managing and preparing for issues of food security, water supply, and climate change. The capability to deliver soil maps with the accuracy and resolution needed by land use planning, precision agriculture, as well as hydrologic and meteorologic models is, fortunately, on the horizon due to advances in the geospatial revolution. Digital soil mapping, which utilizes spatial statistics and data provided by modern geospatial technologies, has now become an established area of study for soil scientists. Over 100 articles on digital soil mapping were published in 2018. The first and second generations of soil mapping thrived from collaborations between Earth scientists and geographers. As we enter the dawn of the third generation of soil maps, those collaborations remain essential. To that end, we review the historical connections between soil science and geography, examine the recent disconnect between those disciplines, and draw attention to opportunities for the reinvigoration of the long-standing field of soil geography. Finally, we emphasize the importance of this reinvigoration to geographers.

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