In Summary - Soil Scientist
Soil Scientists typically work in the following Career Sectors:
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The Work - Soil Scientist
Soil scientists use their skills and knowledge to make the best use of soils. They determine the qualities and properties of soil, by examining and describing sites, taking soil samples for laboratory testing and carrying out analysis, and using computers to make maps and models. Planning decisions are influenced by their findings; for example, they write reports that assess the suitability of land for agriculture, forestry, civil engineering, environmental protection, natural resource or archaeological exploration, and waste management.
In farming, soil scientists assess the soil's potential for growing crops. They may advise farmers on crop nutrition, the use of fertilisers, or land management methods that minimise or prevent soil erosion. Some soil scientists study soil drainage, and suggest ways to prevent chemical 'runoff' into nearby rivers and lakes. Others test the effects and efficiency of products like fertilisers and pesticides on the soil, soil traffic ability and soil-machine interaction.
Soil scientists may work as soil consultants. They may advise civil engineers on the risk of subsidence and landslides. Soil scientists are very involved in environmental issues. They may advise on the suitability of a site for waste disposal, or rehabilitation of abandoned mines and quarries.
Most commonly reported Work Tasks
- Conduct experiments to develop new or improved varieties of field crops, focusing on characteristics such as yield, quality, disease resistance, nutritional value, or adaptation to specific soils or climates.
- Communicate research or project results to other professionals or the public or teach related courses, seminars, or workshops.
- Investigate soil problems or poor water quality to determine sources and effects.
- Study soil characteristics to classify soils on the basis of factors such as geographic location, landscape position, or soil properties.
- Provide information or recommendations to farmers or other landowners regarding ways in which they can best use land, promote plant growth, or avoid or correct problems such as erosion.
- Investigate responses of soils to specific management practices to determine the use capabilities of soils and the effects of alternative practices on soil productivity.
- Develop methods of conserving or managing soil that can be applied by farmers or forestry companies.
- Conduct experiments investigating how soil forms, changes, or interacts with land-based ecosystems or living organisms.
- Conduct research to determine best methods of planting, spraying, cultivating, harvesting, storing, processing, or transporting horticultural products.
- Develop new or improved methods or products for controlling or eliminating weeds, crop diseases, or insect pests.
Most commonly reported Work Activities
- Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Analyzing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
Interests - Soil Scientist
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.
Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.
Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
As a soil scientist, you must have a detailed knowledge of the morphological, chemical, physical, biological and geographical nature of soil.
You will need to enjoy working outside, and be aware of environmental issues. You must have a flexible and enquiring mind, and good problem solving skills. Computer skills are needed to produce reports, maps and models. You must be able to express yourself clearly, both verbally and in writing. You need good teamwork skills to support and work alongside colleagues and scientists.
Entry Requirements - Soil Scientist
Pay & Salary - Soil Scientist
Salary Range (thousands per year)* 25k - 55k
Last Updated: March, 2017
* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.
Labour Market Updates - Soil Scientist
While the supply of graduates appears to be sufficient to meet the annual recruitment requirement (5,500 graduates in 2017), the demand is arising for roles for those with a high level of experience and/or in niche areas. The demand is for a small number of people given the relatively small size of this occupation (approx. 1% of total employment) and in the areas associated with pharmaceuticals, biopharma and food development.
National Skills Bulletin 2018
Useful Contacts - Soil Scientist
Teagasc - Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority
Soil Science Society of Ireland
Teagasc - Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine