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Soil Science

The growing global population is very dependent on increasing production of food and fibre from soils around the world.

Soil Science

With a Soil Science minor you’ll gain the knowledge and skills to understand the distribution of different soil types, evaluate their characteristics, and develop methods to combat degradation and depletion of productive soils, and associated reduction in water quality - due to historical pressures and mismanagement.

The University of Waikato is located within one of the most productive agricultural areas within New Zealand. Waikato is one of the leading institutions developing new approaches to managing soils to minimise the impacts of agriculture and horticulture, while also developing methods to rehabilitate the environment to reverse the effects of past activities.

You will develop key skills in Soil Science through practical exercises in the field and laboratory.  In particular there is a focus on mapping the spatial extent and connectivity of different soil types, and identifying the factors that limit the utilisation of soils for different land uses.

Our teaching staff are involved in national and international research programmes, particularly in clay minerals, the use of tephras to date sediments, paleoclimate reconstructions, greenhouse gas emissions from soils, and nitrogen removal from waste water.

All the Soil Science papers involve field trips and lab experience. The field trips concentrate on local soils, and the lab exercises involve techniques for soil analysis, as well as spatial analysis using techniques such as GIS.


As a Soil Science student at the University of Waikato, you will have access to the University's well-equipped laboratories, using the most up-to-date equipment and software required for soil science analysis and interpretation.  You'll be working alongside, and learning from, well-respected researchers, industry professionals and academics.

Build a successful career

Studying Soil Science is beneficial for students looking for careers dealing with food production, land use management, or resource management. Students with a minor in Soil Science currently tend to be employed in the agricultural industry, regulatory authorities, consulting companies, and research institutions.

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Key information

Study Location:Hamilton
Area of Study:

Career opportunities

  • Soil Scientist
  • Environmental Scientist
  • Soil Chemist
  • Hydrologist
  • Soil and Water Quality Specialist
  • Soil Conservation Advisor
  • Agronomist
  • Forestry

100 Level

Code Paper Title Points Occurrence / Location
EARTH101Introduction to Earth System Sciences - Pūtaiao Pūnaha Whenua15.024A (Hamilton) & 24A (Tauranga)
A lecture and laboratory paper that explores the interacting processes that affect the surface of the Earth, producing landforms and resources, with a focus on physical processes. Topics covered include coastal processes and hazards; climate change; weathering; erosion and mass movement; soil formation; the hydrological cycle; rive...

200 Level

Code Paper Title Points Occurrence / Location
EARTH221Soil Science15.024B (Hamilton)
An introduction to the nature, formation, and classification of soils, their physical, chemical, mineralogical, and biological properties, and issues of soil quality, land degradation and sustainable management. The paper also encompasses the properties, genesis, and distribution of the soils of New Zealand and their use.
EARTH251Applied Earth Sciences15.024A (Hamilton)
A field-based paper involving data collection and spatial analysis across several Earth Science sub-disciplines to determine the processes operating on our landscape. This includes geological mapping, geomorphological analysis in the field and from aerial images, stream gauging, as well as soil characterization and mapping. The pap...

300 Level

Code Paper Title Points Occurrence / Location
EARTH322Soil and Water Management15.024A (Hamilton)
This paper integrates an understanding of land/soil and water processes that occur at paddock to catchment to national scales. A focus is on management practices that optimise resource use for productive purposes with attention to avoidance or minimisation of environmental effects. Topics include soil degradation, soil fertility, ...

New to Waikato? The International Excellence Scholarship is worth up to $10,000.

Broad Memorial Fund  Accepting applications

For students who are enrolled full-time or part-time in the thesis year of a masters degree (e.g. MSc, MSc(Research)), MPhil or PhD qualification in Earth Sciences.
Closing Date: 31 March 2024

Terry Healy Memorial Award  Not currently accepting applications

For students who are currently enrolled part- or full-time in a masters or doctoral degree in an Earth Sciences subject and have not previously received the Award. Preference will be given to students involved in marine sciences, but applications will be considered for all areas appropriate to the current research activities of the Earth Sciences subject in the School of Science.

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School of Science
Phone: 0800 924 528 or +64 7 838 4625
Email: [email protected]