Breadcrumbs

New book extols the value of high-class New Zealand soils

10 June 2021

Professor David Lowe is one of the three authors behind new book, The Soils of Aotearoa New Zealand. Photo Credit: Victoria Baskin Coffey

A ground-breaking new book, The Soils of Aotearoa New Zealand, will launch during the joint New Zealand-Australia soils conference on Monday 28 June at the University of Waikato.

Published as part of the World Soils Book Series by Springer, the book is the first of its kind to be released in almost three decades, says one of its co-authors, University of Waikato soil scientist Professor David Lowe.

An engaging and detailed book, it builds on the widely used title, New Zealand Soil Classification, first published in 1992.

The book has been a labour of love for its three authors - Dr Allan Hewitt from Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, and Dr Megan Balks and Professor David Lowe from Te Aka Mātuatua School of Science at the University of Waikato - who, between them, have more than 110 years of experience in soil science.

The book has also involved collaboration and consultation with a wide range of experts, including archaeologists and iwi historians.

Relevant to the agricultural and horticultural industries as well as science generally, the book is an introduction to the diversity of soils across the country, including chapters on each of the 15 soils orders (Allophanic, Anthropic, Brown, Gley, Granular, Melanic, Organic, Oxidic, Pallic, Podzol, Pumice, Raw, Recent, Semiarid and Ultic Soils).

The book addresses the importance of ancient soils constructed by early Māori for cultivating kumara and also features a new chapter on soils in the Ross Sea region of Antarctica.

Topical themes are also addressed, including the loss of high-value soils to housing and urban development, and how to best use or manage this land.

New Zealand only has “a limited number of highly versatile class one and two soils” and these fertile agricultural areas are being threatened by urban growth, as cities and towns spill ever outwards.

“We only have 5.2 per cent of our soils as class one or class two, and of course they are where all the towns are and not by mistake. They have good chemical and physical fertility, are reasonably flat, and they can grow good food.

“The problem is the towns are expanding… the Pukekohe area is challenging as about 25 percent of our fresh vegetables come from there.”

Some soils, such as the Horotiu soils in the central Waikato, have taken more than 20,000 years to develop.

“They are made up of volcanic ash deposits and have been built up over time, millimetre by millimetre, overlying the alluvium which underlies the plain. You’ve got perfect drainage, enough material for root volume, beautiful physical properties with a crumb structure so no root impediments … they hold water during drought, let water go when it is hammering with rain - their physical properties are perfect.”

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Simon Upton, will speak at the book launch at the University of Waikato on 28 June, along with Dean of Science Professor Margaret Barbour.


This research aligns with the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

Sustainable Cities and Communities Life on Land

Latest stories

Related stories

Vic Arcus web

Battling cattle bloat

Why are some cows more susceptible than others to bloat? Scientists think a single protein…

PhD student

University of Waikato researchers to lead seaweed farming trials in Hauraki Gulf and Bay of Plenty

University of Waikato researchers’ Dr Marie Magnusson and Dr Rebecca Lawton will receive $1.2 million…

Dr Deniz Özkundakci

Toihuarewa – Waimāori Chair in Lake and Fresh Water Science appointment confirmed

Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Regional Council and the University of Waikato have appointed Dr…

asparagus picker

Roadmap launched to grow NZ’s robotics industry

With robotics and automation set to replace 46 percent of day jobs by 2040, a…

Steve Hodgkinson

Alumnus working at the forefront of new immunity support against Covid-19

University of Waikato alumnus Dr Steve Hodgkinson is CEO at RuaTech where he is part…

sir-william-lady-judi-gallagher

Sir William and Lady Judi Gallagher announce further support for University of Waikato with new scholarship

Hamilton philanthropists Sir William and Lady Judi Gallagher will fund eight new scholarships a year…

International alumnus working to minimise cyber security threats

With cyber security threats on the rise, University of Waikato alumnus Eric Wang is working…

youyou-gao

Thanks to Waikato, Youyou Gao is now where she's always wanted to be

Originally from Hefei, China, Youyou Gao thrived at the University of Waikato studying computer graphic…

Rachita in a lab

Master’s fast tracks research career for international alumna

Rachita Radhakrishna Pai’s path has always been focused on science – knowing as early as…

leo-oliver-appeal

Scholarship fast-tracks Leo helping people at risk of cyber attacks

Thanks to scholarship support, current Master of Cyber Security student Leo Oliver-Dowling is well on…

Dr Adam Hartland

Waikato climate researchers develop device sold to universities around the world

Waikato researchers unlocking keys to climate change hidden in the drip water from inside New…

Satellite image of Lake Rotoehu

European Space Agency satellites used to diagnose health of Bay of Plenty lakes

Satellite images from the European Space Agency are being used to diagnose the health of…