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Soil Scientist
Soil Science deals with the origins, characteristics and the use of soils for purposes of sustained biological production, the retention of environmental quality, as well as promoting health in plants, animals and people.

For this reason, soil scientists are trained to identify and evaluate soil types for agricultural and non-agricultural uses, to determine the deficiencies of various kinds of soil and how these may be rectified. The process includes aspects such as soil-cultivation methods and practices, soil fertility and fertilizing, irrigation and drainage.

Soil scientists can specialize in various fields such as:

- soil formation - the processes whereby soil is formed
- soil classification - the classification of soil according to its properties
- soil mineralogy - the composition of the soil
- soil science - the biological, chemical and physical properties of the soil
- soil fertility - how many plant nutrients the soil contains and it can take up
- soil decay - through, for example, erosion or by becoming brackish

Thus, their work may involve: classifying soils according to standard types; conducting experiments on farms to determine the best soil type for different plants; analyzing soil to establish chemical and mineralogical relationships to plant growth; and/or investigating the effects of tillage, fertilization, crop rotation, environmental factors and pollution on different soil types.

Soil scientists are researchers, developers and advisors. They use their knowledge to ensure that good soil planning and management are applied. They make recommendations regarding soil fertilisation and the correct use of water.

Soil scientists are responsible for optimal soil utilisation. They must prevent soil decay and ensure that the natural soil fertility is maintained and improved. Farmland with good potential must be reserved for agricultural use.

Soil scientists work in the field as well as in the laboratory and use natural resource data banks, simulation models and computers. They work closely with other agricultural experts and with farmers, ensuring that available knowledge and research are utilized to improve soil-management practices.

Satisfying Aspects
- sometimes working outdoors
- varied and interesting work
- educating people on soil conservation and utilization
- knowing that your work can make a difference, such as ensuring that designated sites are suitable for construction purposes and that soil erosion is being prevented

Demanding aspects
- working in adverse weather conditions
- travelling to and staying at remote and isolated sites
- being away for long periods of time

A soil scientist should:
- want to help mankind through the practical application of scientific knowledge
- have good communication and persuasive skills
- have a love of nature and the outdoors
- be able to work independently and as part of a team
- have concentration skills and attentiveness
- be self-motivated and dedicated
- be prepared to work in all kinds of weather conditions    and isolated areas

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.
Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Sciences
Recommended Subjects: Geography

Degree: The minimum requirement for a soil scientist is a 4-year BSc (Agric) or a 3-year BSc with Soil Science as major subject. Both degrees are offered at most South African universities.

Postgraduate study: BSc Honours degree in Soil Science is recommended

- Agricultural Research Council
- Research institutes and organisations
- Department of Agriculture
- Universities
- Agricultural co-operatives
- Fertilizer manufacturers
- Self-employment, can start own business and practice as an analyst, soil surveyor and development consultant to the agricultural industry, the construction industry, development cooperatives, commercial banks and landscape architects

The Agricultural Research Council
P O Box 8783
Pretoria, 0001
Tel: (012) 427-9700 Fax: (012) 342-3948

The Institute for Soil, Climate and Water
Private Bag X79
Pretoria, 0001
Tel: (012) 310-2648 Fax: (012) 323-1157

The Soil Science Society of South Africa
P O Box 65217
Erasmusrand, 0165
Tel: (051) 401-9247