Soil Science

The Soil Science Concentration focuses on the processes and properties of the soil environment. It emphasizes improving the suitability of soil for crop growth while preserving its value as a natural resource by using ecologically sound approaches.

Vishal Mehta, SCS graduate student, conducting soil science research.

Soil Science, Soil Biology and Microbial Ecology

Effects of agricultural management practices on soil ecology and soil microbial processes. Particular research topics include: the development of soil health diagnostics; the impact of soil microbial diversity and community composition on agroecological function; and the use of environmental genomics to identify and characterize novel microorganisms in soils.

Soil and Water Management

Managing water quality and quantity in rural communities; comparing private and public options.

Analytical Soil Chemistry

Predictive tests for trace elements in soils; trace element uptake by grasses and forage legumes treated with sludge; biogeochemical behavior of cadmium and zinc in natural landscapes and soils

Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management

Assessment of nitrogen and phosphorus cycle processes in agricultural soils with respect to enhancing plant nutrient uptake. Specific research topics include: improve fertilizer N recovery by crops; the functions and dynamics of soil organic matter; appropriate practices for management of soil organic matter; on-farm nutrient management and improving profitability and competitiveness of New York farms while protecting the environment.

Soil Biogeochemistry

Analysis of nutrient and carbon turnover in soils with regard to fluxes within soils and across ecosystem boundaries to aquatic ecosystems. Research topics include: carbon sequestration in the context of climate change and black carbon dynamics; using synchrotron-based NEXAFS and FTIR for the micro- and nano-scale observation of biogeochemical cycles in soils.

Soil Physics/Environmental Biophysics

Development of soil physical tests to determine soil quality; examination of natural porous media; transport theories; the effect of microorganisms (in particular, bacteria and protozoa) on the transport properties of soils and aquifer materials; the exchange of cations on clays and soils; the interplay between exchange and transport of electrolytes in natural porous media; and the influence of exchangeable cations on the interaction forces between soil colloids.