Iconic publications

Papers that influenced soil scientists during their careers

NSW SKN January 2018

feather_anfd2An action from one of our meetings was for each member to nominate iconic soil publications that had a significant impact, or a Eureka effect on their understanding of soils and the application of soils to land management.  The exact criteria were:

“nominate 2-3 papers that were influential in our personal academic development, or that we subsequently believe are significant works”

The following list of papers was nominated.  They are not listed in any particular order.  Read the comments from SKN members about why these publications were so important to them.

We share this list, in the hope that it may lead to ‘Eureka’ moments for others too.

Stoneman, TC. (1962). Loss of structure in wheat belt soils.  Journal of Department of Agriculture, Western Australia. 3, 493-5.

Comment: This humble paper from the WA Ag Journal started my focus in land degradation studies.  The author talked about his concept of using bulk density as an expression of soil structure, in paired comparisons (cultivated, non-cultivated).  A great idea and simple.

Barley, KP. (1953).   The root growth of irrigated perennial pastures and its effect on soil structure. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 4(3) 283 – 291

Comment: Identified the growth of roots as important for soil structure development by making macropores as well as increasing soil organic matter.  First paper to estimate the amount of soil organic carbon sequestered by pastures.

Hallsworth, EG, Gibbons, FR and Lemerle, TH. (1954).  The nutrient status and cultivation practices of the soils of the north West wheat belt of New South Wales. Australian Journal of Agriculture.
Hallsworth, Colwell, JD and Gibbons, FR. (1953).  Studies in pedogenesis in NSW.  5 The Euchrozems.  Australian J of Agricultural Research 4, 305 – 325.
Hallsworth, EG, Costin, AB, Gibbons, FR and Robertson, GK. (1952). Studies in pedogeneisis in NSW II The Chocolate soils.  European Journal of Soil Science 3, 103 – 124.
Hallsworth, EG, Costin, AB, and Gibbons, FR. (1953). Studies in pedogeneisis in NSW. VI. On the classification of soils showing features of podzol formation.  Journal of Soil Science 4, 242 – 256.
Hallsworth, EG and Costin, AB. (1953). Studies in pedogeneisis in NSW. II The ironstone soils.  Journal of Soil Science 4, 24 – 47.
Hallsworth, EG and Waring, HD. (1964).  Studies in pedogenesis in New South Wales.  VIII.  An alternative hypothesis for the formation of the Solodized -Solonetz of the Pilliga district.  Journal of Soil Science 15, 159 – 77.

Comment: In particular one paper (the Euchrozem paper above) that involved a study of land formation around Inverell and the Northern Tablelands focussing on the lateritic and basaltic origins (mainly Tertiary processes) and the resultant soil sequences.  An old road quarry referenced by Hallsworth showed the soil layers and geological sequences.  This clarified many aspects of the distribution of soils in northern NSW.

Northcote, KH.  (1979). A factual key for the recognition of Australian Soils.  4th Edition. Rellim Technical Publication, Coffs Harbour, NSW, Australia.

Comment: The Factual Key was the bible for describing, classifying and mapping soils in the early days of most soil scientists in the NSW in the 70’s and 80’s.

Holmes, Arthur (1965). Principles of Physical Geology. Second Edition.  Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd, Melbourne.

Comment: On reading this, it was like a light going on for explaining the distribution of soils in Central West NSW.  It provided a logical basis for understanding the distribution of soils in Central West NSW.  It explained that lithology was insufficient to explain soil distributions, it was also necessary to know about the palaeogeography and origins of the rock materials.  It also brought into question the practice of simply using lithology alone to predict soil distribution which gained some currency in the late 1990’s.

Butler, BE (1950). A theory of prior streams as a causal factor in soil occurrence in the Riverine Plain in south eastern Australia. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 1, 231 – 252.
Butler, BE (1958). Depositional systems of the Riverine Plain of south-eastern Australia in relation to soils. Soil publication 10. CSIRO, Australia, Melbourne.
Hulme, P (2003). Glovebox guide to the soils of the Macquarie and Bogan Floodplain. Sustainable Soil Management, National Heritage Trust and Macquarie 2100, NSW.
Watkins, JJ (1996). Nyngan 1:250 000 Geological Sheet SH/55 – 15. First Edition. Geological Survey of NSW, Sydney.
Watkins, JJ and Meakin, NS (1996). Explanatory Notes Nyngan and Walgett 1:250 000 Sheet.SH/55-15 and SH/55 – 11. Geological Survey of NSW.

Comment: This suite of publications, essentially on prior streams and the meander plain-backplain sequence, so common in the riverine environments of the Murray-Darling Basin, provided a new understanding of the distribution of soils in the Lower Macquarie floodplain.  The geomorphology of the riverine plain combined with the differentiation of the age of the alluvial materials was a powerful way to understand soil distributions.

Rengasamy P, Greene RSB, Ford GW and Mechanni AH (1984).  Identification of the dispersive behaviour and the management of red-brown earths.  Australian Journal of Soil Research 22, 229 – 37

Comment: Provided a basis for understanding dispersion behaviour in relation to soil chemistry (SAR, ESP and EC1:5).  It was not necessarily new, but provided that vital link between theory and practice.

Conyers, MK, Poile, GJ, Oates, AA, Waters, D and Chan, Y. (2011).  Comparison of three carbon determination methods on naturally occurring substrates and the implication for the quantification of ‘soil carbon’.  Australian Journal of Soil Research 49, 27 – 33.

Comment: Clarified exactly what carbon was measured by the different tests for soil carbon.

Young, RW, Wray, RAL and Young, ARM. (2009).  Sandstone Landforms. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Comment: Helped explain soil, vegetation and land form patterns in the Sydney region.

Handreck, KH and Black, ND. (2010).  Growing media for ornamental plants and turf.  4th Edition.  University of NSW Press, Sydney.

Comment: Whilst being a basic text book, it was also incredibly useful for providing many soil test interpretations for growing plants.

Hazelton, P.A. and Murphy, B.W. (2007). What Do All the Numbers Mean? – A Guide to the Interpretation of Soil Test Results.   CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne.

Comment: This book, and the ring binder folder before it (1992) has been the ‘go to’ reference for all of my soil test interpretations.  It is a practical application of soil chemistry which just made sense.  Everyone should have a copy.

Walker, P. H. (1980). Soil morphology, genesis and classification in Australia. In ‘National Soils Conference 1980 Review Papers’. Eds T. S. Abbott, C. A. Hawkins and P. G. E. Searle. pp. 1-25. Soil Sci. Soc. Aust.: Sydney.
Singh, G and Geissler, E. (1985). Late Cainozoic History of Vegetation, Fire, Lake Levels, and Climate, at Lake George, New South Wales, Australia. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, B 311.379-447, December 1985.
Singh, G, Opdyke, ND and Bowler, JM. (1981). Late Cainozoic stratigraphy, palaeomagnetic chronology and vegetational history from Lake George, NSW.   J. Geol. Soc. Aust. 28, 435-452.

Comment: Authors: G. Singh and Elizabeth Geissler, Dept of Biogeography and Geomorphology, ANU, Canberra. A detailed study of the deep cores taken from the dry bed of Lake George.  The 1981 paper is an earlier and possibly more accessible version of this huge study, and containing a bit of soil description.

Both these papers blew away the rigid, mostly monogenetic, models of soil formation that were, and still are, embedded in soil nomenclature. Many processes can potentially operate in most Australian soils because of the huge length of time involved in their development.

Odum, Eugene P. (1959, several editions) The Fundamentals of Ecology.  Saunders, Philadelphia, USA, now under Elsevier

Comment: The Fundamentals of Ecology by Eugene Odum really struck a chord with me when doing the Rural Science course; which based itself on the fundamentals of Agricultural Ecology (McClymont/Rural Science ideology). I still refer to this ‘old’ textbook when I want to check some current thinking/concepts as to the fundamental logic of the ‘new’ argument – ie. getting back to a basic understanding of systems.

Charley J L and Cowling S W (1968) Changes in soil nutrient states resulting from overgrazing and their consequences in plant communities of semi-arid areas Proc. Ecol. Soc. Aust. Vol 3

Comment: The ecological basis of land management was reinforced when I was doing an extra final year subject in Plant Ecology, and a paper by Jim Charley and Stafford Cowling was used to illustrate the links between nitrogen fixing cyano-bacteria underneath quartz stones on the ‘stony downs’ country around Fowlers Gap, NSW as contributing to the nutrient status of soils and plant communities. This really brought home to me the ecological niches and linkages that we need to be aware of in our land management processes.

Black. JM. (1973 – 1952). 2nd Edition.  Flora of South Australia (Four Volumes –  2nd edition 1943-52)

Comment: The bible for keying out species of plants in Western NSW (until Cunningham et al’s Plants of Western NSW (1981).

Cunningham, GM, Mulham, WE, Milthorpe, PL, and Leigh, JH. (2011). Plants of western New South Wales.  (CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne, Australia).
Harden, Gwen, J. (editor) (1992 – 2002) 4 volumes.  Flora of NSW.  (RG and FJ Richardson, Meredith, Victoria 3333 Australia.

Comment: This Flora, originally published 1922-29, was very comprehensive and accurate and was an extremely valuable resource for rangeland practitioners in the southern Australian rangelands.

Charman, P.E.V. and Murphy, B.W. (1991).  Soils their properties and management.  A soil conservation handbook for New South Wales.  Sydney University Press.

Comment: This text book was my first comprehensive introduction into soils of NSW.  A wonderful resource spanning soil degradation, mapping, classification, properties and conservation.

Division of Soils, CSIRO. (1983).  Soils: an Australian Viewpoint. CSIRO, Melbourne.