Epilogue

This workshop was not intended to be a one-time event, but rather a step in a process of identifying how soil science research can expand and grow to meet the needs of science and society. We must understand soil in terms of its dynamics, its stability, and the resulting rates and efficiencies of soil processes. Many of the research topics and issues raised at the workshop will be important in the future. Among them are the following:

  • Valuing soil as an ecosystem service

  • Translating research across both temporal and spatial scales

  • Sharing and using data already available for other purposes in soil science research

  • Incorporating existing and new technologies from other disciplines to study soil systems

  • Collaborating across disciplines

  • Translating soil science research into information for stakeholders and end users (e.g., policy makers, regulators, farmers, land developers, and engineers)

Many of these topics are interrelated. Using available data may require upscaling or downscaling of results owing to the disparate scales at which soils and, for example, vegetation, water, sediment, and atmospheric measurements are made. Likewise, interdisciplinary collaboration may result as soil scientists apply new and existing technologies to soil science research.



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OCR for page 45
Epilogue T his workshop was not intended to be a one-time event, but rather a step in a process of identifying how soil science research can expand and grow to meet the needs of science and society. We must understand soil in terms of its dynamics, its stability, and the resulting rates and efficiencies of soil processes. Many of the research topics and issues raised at the workshop will be important in the future. Among them are the following: • Valuing soil as an ecosystem service • Translating research across both temporal and spatial scales • Sharing and using data already available for other purposes in soil science research • Incorporating existing and new technologies from other disciplines to study soil systems • Collaborating across disciplines • Translating soil science research into information for stakeholders and end users (e.g., policy makers, regulators, farmers, land developers, and engineers) Many of these topics are interrelated. Using available data may require up- scaling or downscaling of results owing to the disparate scales at which soils and, for example, vegetation, water, sediment, and atmospheric measure- ments are made. Likewise, interdisciplinary collaboration may result as soil scientists apply new and existing technologies to soil science research. 

OCR for page 45
 FRONTIERS IN SOIL SCIENCE RESEARCH There is an identified need for more funding for both agricultural- related and environmental soil science. As was noted several times during the workshop, soil science lacks a primary sponsor or steward, which partly emanates from its interdisciplinary nature. In recent years when science budgets have diminished, it is increasingly important for soil scientists to continue to collaborate across and outside the discipline, finding ways to relate their science to the societal needs, as well as linking it to such issues as environmental policy. This is a struggle not just in the United States, but in other countries as well, as witnessed by Brent Clothier’s presentation to the workshop on efforts to link soil science to policy in New Zealand, and recent meetings in Europe on the future of soil science research. Several networks mentioned during the workshop—including, for ex- ample, the National Ecological Observatory Network and the Critical Zone Exploration Network—are working across disciplines on research issues of interest to soil scientists. Soil scientists need to continue to find ways to link their basic research to broader research efforts, in an effort both to bring soil science research to the forefront and to raise awareness in the broader scientific community as to what soil science research can offer to the larger scientific endeavor. It is up to soil scientists to continue to search for the frontiers in re- search, linking research to important societal and global issues, such as food security, sustainability, climate change, and water resources. However, to do so, we must continue to collaborate, keeping ourselves open to learning from other disciplines, and reaching out to our scientific colleagues, scien- tific societies, and research endeavors.