Soil System Sciences

Boring Soil Science strikes back

_MG_6145 ok

“Boring” speech under a bridge and heavy rain during a fieldtrip some years ago (II Iberian Congress of Soil Science, Seville, Spain). Author unknown.

Many scientists are currently debating whether soil science is an academic field in which scientists are engaged in talking to each other, ignoring the rest of society. Of course, traditionally, the dissemination of soil science has been a difficult field. Among other problems, some scientists have reviewed the use of complicated jargon.

Soil Science academics work in increasingly smaller and smaller niches, talking to ever smaller groups of their peers (

May be. Or may be not. Jargon is not for Pete:

Fotos Mexico 2006 082

Boring teachers (me with blue T-shirt and Lorena, orange) and bored students talking complicated boring jargon during a boring field trip in Mexico. Do you see the phone number in the bus? Never call to rent a vehicle.

Obviously, the jargon used in the scientific literature is not appropriate for disclosure of any scientific subject. Nor is this the goal of high-ranked scientific journals (perhaps some day we could talk about what is actually the impact factor, but today I had a happy day and do not want to ruin it). Some people also have mentioned the lack of amateurs compared to other disciplines such as Geology, Medicine, Botany and Astronomy.


Really no amateurs? Me, Javier, Yare (my daughter) and Pablo during field sampling. Credit: Loreto Limón.

Personally, I think an article on any of these subjects may also be so boring (or more) that an article on soils. But, probably, also the lack of amateurs is that soil science is a discipline of synthesis for which they lack previous knowledge and is difficult for people to become fond of it as children, for example.


Learning how a field infiltrometer works. Bubbles, bubbles! Credit: Antonio Jordán.

Or maybe I’m terribly wrong and we, soil scientists, just have to motivate, decide to do something to remedy the situation and stop being bored. Although not the only option (enjoying your own work is another, possibly), blogs and social networks are valid instruments for attractive and interesting dissemination of  science.


Jorge assisting Pilar with a very complicated experiment. Credit: Jorge Mataix (the “boring” uncle).

So today I ‘m going to put my two cents in the popularization of Soil Science putting here a list of  soil blogs I like. One of my favourites is Un Universo Invisible Bajo Nuestros Pies (An Invisible Universe under our Feet), by Juanjo Ibáñez. It is in Spanish, my native language (yes, I know you know: my English is sometimes deplorable). Many times I am not in full agreement with Juanjo’s opinions, but I have to admit that finding arguments to contradict him is hard for me. He is also a colleague whom I admire (and extremely funny).

Lorena (left), me (with hat), and Félix (right) being assisted by a little hobbit during soil sampling.

Lorena (left), me (with hat), and Félix (right) being assisted by a little hobbit (Mauricio) during soil sampling. The hobbit looks bored.

Do you know more interesting blogs? What ideas do you have to improve the dissemination of soil science? Why not telling your experience? Send it to me. C’mon, are u bored?

  • Soil Duck, Jessica Drake (she is also a G-Soiler)


Do you need more litter, Antonio?


This post was published simultaneously in G-Soil.

Antonio Jordán is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Seville and coordinator of the MED Soil Research Group. Antonio’s research focusses on rainfall-induced soil erosion processes, the effects of wildfires on soil properties and soil degradation in Mediterranean areas. He is an active members of the Soil System Sciences (SSS) Division of the European Geosciences Union (EGU), which coordinates the scientific programme on soil sciences.