The Nature and Properties of Soils, Global Edition

Raymond R. Weil / Nyle C. Brady  
Total pages
October 2016
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The Nature and Properties of Soils, Global Edition


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Developed for Introduction to Soils or Soil Science courses, The Nature and Properties of Soils, Fifteenth Edition, can be used in courses such as Soil Fertility, Land Resources, Earth Science and Soil Geography.

Help students learn about soils and their connections to the ecosystem

The Nature and Properties of Soils is designed to engage today’s students with the latest in the world of soils. This hallmark text introduces students to the exciting world of soils through clear writing, strong pedagogy, and an ecological approach that effectively explains the fundamentals of soil science. Worked calculations, vignettes, and current real-world applications prepare readers to understand concepts, solve problems, and think critically. Written for both majors and non-majors, this text highlights the many interactions between the soil and other components of forest, range, agricultural, wetland and constructed ecosystems.

Now in full-color, the Fifteenth Edition includes hundreds of compelling photos, figures, and diagrams to bring the exciting world of soils to life. Extensively revised, new and updated content appears in every chapter. Examples include: coverage of the pedosphere concept; new insights into humus and soil carbon accumulation; subaqueous soils, soil effects on human health; principles and practice of organic farming; urban and human engineered soils; new understandings of the nitrogen cycle; water-saving irrigation techniques; hydraulic redistribution, soil food-web ecology; disease suppressive soils; soil microbial genomics; soil interactions with global climate change; digital soil maps; and many others.


The Nature and Properties of Soils presents a comprehensive approach to soils with a focus on six major ecological roles of soil including growth of plants, climate change, recycling function, biodiversity, water, and soil properties and behavior.

Bring the subject to life and facilitate learning

  • NEW! Engaging full-color art program support today’s visual learner

    • Vibrant full-color photographs (over 500) illustrate concepts and make the text come alive.

    • Hundreds of new figures have been added or revised in this edition, highlighting applications and field situations relevant to many different areas of study.

    • Line drawings, graphs, and diagrams use consistent color coding throughout the text to make them more readily and intuitively understood.

    • High-quality color plates illustrate nutrient deficiencies, soil landscapes, and soil management practices.

  • Make reading, studying, and content mastery easier.

    • NEW: New applications boxes and case study vignettes bring important soils topics to life. Examples include “Subaqueous Soils—Underwater Pedogenesis,” “Practical Applications of Unsaturated Water Flow in Contrasting Layers,” “Soil Microbiology in the Molecular Age,” and "Where have All the Humics Gone?”

    • NEW: Calculations and practical numerical problems boxes help students explore and understand detailed calculations and practical numerical problems. Examples include “Calculating Lime Needs Based on pH Buffering,” “Leaching Requirement for Saline Soils,” "Toward a Global Soil Information System,” “Calculation of Nitrogen Mineralization,” and “Calculation of Percent Pore Space in Soils.”

    • UPDATED: End-of-chapter study questions (10-15 per chapter) help students review the topics and their interactions.

    • Chapter introductions illustrate the importance of the chapter topic and its relationship to other soil topics and ecosystem components.

    • Several cross-referencing chapters reinforce the interconnectedness of soil systems and allow instructors flexibility when teaching the course.

    • Special topics are treated in boxes so instructors can use the boxes to highlight topics that are covered in their classroom structure.

    • A comprehensive glossary provides a useful reference and review tool for students.

  • NEW/UPDATED: Updated and new discussions keep students engaged with the most current information available. Chapter-by-chapter changes include:

    • Chapter 1 includes new vignettes and discussions on soil health, soil ecosystem services, soil effects on human health, geophagy, soil as a building material, and soil resilience and resistance to ecological disturbance. Eight Grand Challenges for future soil scientists are also presented.

    • Chapter 2 places increased emphasis on human influences and urban soils, with a new section devoted to the genesis and properties of urban soils. New information and illustrations are provided for rock weathering, profile development, and subaqueous soils.

    • Chapter 3 reflects the latest Keys to Soil Taxonomy and now includes new taxa reflecting human influences and urban soils.

    • Chapter 4 presents new concepts dealing with soil structure and other soil physical properties, including a practical flow chart for conducting texture by feel. New management approaches for soil structure and compaction in urban, forest and agricultural setting are described.

    • Chapter 5 includes an updated discussion of basic soil-water principles, as well as soil water measuring technologies. The role of soil water properties in relationship to microbial growth is now also discussed.

    • Chapter 6 introduces a major new concept, hydraulic lift or hydraulic redistribution, which can supply substantial amounts of water to certain vegetation in both natural and agricultural soil systems. Chapter 6 also has a new section on urban soil runoff and hydrology, as well as consideration of urban drainage issues. Expanded and revised sections of septic drain fields and irrigation management include new photos, graphs, diagrams, and tables.

    • Chapter 7 provides new text, information, and graphics on redox reactions and the chemistry of wetland soils. Gas exchanges issues regarding landfills and wetlands are covered, in addition to those in normal upland soils. New concepts and technologies for addressing soil temperature effects are discussed.

    • Chapter 8 provides new understandings of cation exchange, swelling properties of soils, and absorption of antibiotics and other environmental compounds. Various types of soil clays and urban applications for these materials are addressed.

    • Chapter 9 takes a biogeochemical proton-balance approach to soil acidity and discusses global acidity caused by human impacts such as sulfur and nitrogen deposition and exposure of potential acid sulfate soils. New approaches to managing soil acidity and agricultural soils are also discussed.

    • Chapter 10 is rewritten to reflect an understanding of arid region soils, their heterogeneous distribution of water nutrients and organic matter, and impacts of large animal grazing. New insights are provided on the major issues involved with soil salinity and sodicity, as well as irrigation management.

    • Chapter 11 includes many new insights and concepts as well as anecdotes about the highly diverse ecosystem below ground. Emphasis is given on plant-soil organism relationships such as the production of signaling compounds by plant roots that help communicate with other plant roots as well as with such organisms as soil nematodes. Deeper insights are provided on the concepts of plant disease suppression and biological control plant pests and diseases.

    • Chapter 12 reflects recent changes in our understanding of soil organic matter. Major changes were made with regard to the concept of humus and humic substances. Outdated models of humus molecules are corrected and the role of black carbon (char) and protected organic matter is explained and emphasized. The importance of soluble organic carbon is also addressed.

    • Chapter 13 brings to light much new knowledge that has been gained with regard to nitrogen cycling insoles. This includes several new pathways of nitrogen transformation such as Anammox and reductive nitrate assimilation. More emphasis is placed upon the emission of greenhouse gases in various phases of the nitrogen cycle including but not limited to denitrification. Chapter 13 also offers new insights into the sulfur cycle and new practices for the management of sulfur in plants and soil.

    • Chapter 14 is thoroughly updated with regard to the management of phosphorus and potassium. This includes new insights into the prevention of eutrophication by proper management of phosphorus on the land. Examples from Lake Erie, Gulf of Mexico and Chesapeake Bay are included. New information is now included on the various strategies by which plants obtain phosphorus from soil.

    • Chapter 15 has a whole new section on silicon and the cycle of silicon in soils and plants. New insights are also provided about calcium and magnesium and the ratio between the two, as well as on micronutrient cycles and management and their role in human nutrition.

    • Chapter 16 reflects the latest and best practices for nutrient management in various types of ecosystems such as croplands, pastures and forests. The concept of integrated nutrient management on the landscape with multiple layers of practices is now covered.

    • Chapter 17 is thoroughly updated with a new section and equations for tillage erosion have been introduced. This type of erosion has been often overlooked but has now been shown to be a major force on the world's croplands. New information is provided on the most up-to-date measures of conservation tillage and erosion control for both urban and agricultural situations.

    • Chapter 18 includes new insights, information, and data on the ways in which world soils are contaminated and how the contamination can be mitigated. Additional emphasis has been placed upon radioactive contamination in light of the incidents in Fukushima Japan. New information and approaches for phytoremediation of both organic and metal contamination are also included.

    • Chapter 19 incorporates major changes in regard to spatial information on soils. Material on old paper soil surveys has been phased out and the new online tools and digital soil mapping approaches have been addressed. Soil spatial information is presented as an integrated concept with GIS, GPS, and modern digital approaches at all scales.

    • Chapter 20 presents many new concepts and new information on global soil quality and the prospects for soil impacts on human prosperity. A new section on the role of organic farming in world food production is presented. There are also new sections on soil health and the major changes taking place in modern agriculture with regard to the enhancement of soil health with such practices as no-tillage and cover crops. Concepts of soil management relevant to permaculture and sustainable agriculture are presented, including personal nutrient cycling practices

New to this Edition

  • A comprehensive approach to soils with a focus on six major ecological roles of soil including growth of plants, climate change, recycling function, biodiversity, water, and soil properties and behavior.
  • New full-color illustrations and the use of color throughout the text highlights the new and refined figures and illustrations to help make the study of soils more efficient, engaging, and relevant. 
  • Updated with the latest advances, concepts, and applications including hundreds of key references.
  • New coverage of cutting edge soil science. Examples include coverage of the pedosphere concept, new insights into humus and soil carbon accumulation, subaqueous soils, soil effects on human health, principles and practice of organic farming, urban and human engineered soils, new understandings of the nitrogen cycle, water-saving irrigation techniques, hydraulic redistribution, soil food-web ecology, disease suppressive soils, soil microbial genomics, soil interactions with global climate change, digital soil maps, and many others
  • New applications boxes and case study vignettes. A total of 10 new application and case study boxes bring important soils topics to life.

  ·    “Dirt for Dinner”

  ·    “Subaqueous Soils–Underwater Pedogenesis”

  ·    “Practical Applications of Unsaturated Water Flow in Contrasting Layers”

  ·    “Char: Is Black the New Gold?”

  ·    “Where have All the Humics Gone?”

  ·    “Tragedy in the Big Easy–A Levee Doomed to Fail”

  ·    “Costly And Embarrassing Soil pH Mystery”

  ·    “Gardeners’ Friend not Always so Friendly

  ·    “Soil Microbiology in the Molecular Age”

  ·    “The Law of Return Made Easy: Using Human Urine”

  • New calculations and practical numerical problems boxes. Eight new boxes help students explore and understand detailed calculations and practical numerical problems.

  ·    “Estimating CEC and Clay Mineralogy”

  ·    “Calculating Lime Needs Based on pH Buffering”

  ·    “Leaching Requirement for Saline Soils”

  ·    “Calculation of Percent Pore Space in Soils”

  ·    “Calculating Soil CEC From Lab Data”

  ·    “Toward a Global Soil Information System”

  ·    “Calculation of Nitrogen Mineralization”

  ·    “Calculating a Soil-Quality Index for Plant Productivity”