The contribution and importance of soil scientists in interdisciplinary studies dealing with land

J. Bouma*, Marcel R. Hoosbeek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Major environmental and agricultural issues dealing with land use and management are likely to be increasingly studied in the future by large interdisciplinary groups of scientists. The future of soil science will be strongly affected by the ability of soil scientists to work in interdisciplinary teams and to effectively interact with users. This will require effective communication of our expertise, while guarding scientific integrity. Disciplinary expertise can be classified in terms of different levels of detail, ranging from user and expert knowledge to different degrees of detailed process knowledge. Selecting a proper level of detail for any problem to be studied by each member of the interdisciplinary team is important to optimize functioning of the team. Ideally, input to the team by soil scientists should include (i) initiation of projects and leadership, (ii) contributions to projects led by other disciplines, or (iii) contributions of basic soil data to projects without being formally involved. Interaction with colleagues and users should be based on continuous exchange of information leading to joint products, to be defined as a series of realistic options (windows of opportunity) rather than as standard data with rigid interpretations. Scenario studies are particularly suitable to realize interdisciplinarity. Soil scientists should be alert to continuously expand and develop their own knowledge base and soil science expertise while being involved with interdisciplinary research so as to remain an interesting partner in the future. Educational programs in soil science should put more emphasis on the ability to communicate to users and colleagues.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Role of Soil Science in Interdisciplinary Research
EditorsR.J. Wagenet, J. Bouma
PublisherAmerican Society of Agronomy
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9780891189404
ISBN (Print)9780891188216
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 1995


  • Interdisciplinary studies
  • Interdisciplinary team
  • Land management
  • Land use
  • Scenario analysis
  • Soil database
  • Soil scientists


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