Soil Science

Submitted by Don Taylor

A course in soil science entitled “Soils” was first taught at UW-River Falls in 1919 to serve the program in Agricultural Education. A course titled “Drainage” was added in 1928, and renamed “Soil Erosion” in 1935. These two courses continued to serve the agricultural program until 1958 when an expansion of the soil science curriculum took place with the addition of courses in soil genesis and classification, soil analysis, soil physics, and soil conservation and fertility. Additional courses in soil chemistry, soil geography and conservation of natural resources were added in 1964.

In 1969 the soil science major was initiated within the Department of Plant and Earth Science. From 1969 to 1989 course offerings and major requirements remained stable with minor changes in course names and offerings. In 1990 the soils curriculum was reorganized to a semester format by combining several courses and including sufficient flexibility so that the program could be tailored to students’ individual needs and career goals.

In 1995, due to increasing interest in environmental aspects of soils science, two options were developed within the soil science major: soil science and environmental science. The soil science option was a traditional soil science program closely related to agriculture while the environmental Science option emphasized more basic sciences and soil relationships in the environment. A course entitled “Hydric Soils and Wetland Environments” was added to the curriculum.

In 2001 the Agronomy Major and the Soil Science Major were combined into a “Crop and Soil Science major with options available in either Crop Science or Soil Science. In 2007 a Sustainable Agriculture Option was added to the Crop and Soil Science Major.

The Crops and Soils Club at UW-River Falls has sponsored a soil judging team for many years. The soil judging team placed first in the NACTA soil judging contests of 1991, 1993 and 1994. In 1994, a UW-River Falls student, Christine Staven, was the top individual in the NACTA contest and in the State soil judging contest.

Larry Meyers, a faculty member in the soil science program, received the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Distinguished Teacher Award and the College of Agriculture NACTA Teaching Award in 1986.

2006 Soils Judging Team.jpg

Dr. William Anderson and the UWRF Soils Judging Team 2006

Soils Judging Team.jpg

Dr. Larry Meyers and the Soils Judging Team

Faculty Member Years Area of Specialty
Albert Beaver 1966-1973 Soil Morphology and Genesis
Roger Swanson 1968-2006 Soil Chemistry and Fertility
Jimmy Richardson 1974-1976 Soil Morphology and Genesis
Aga Sagar 1976-1977 Soil Microbiology and Chemistry
Tom Simpson 1977-1980 Pedology
Dale Hammermeister 1977-1979 Soil Fertility and Chemistry
Alex Simons 1979-1981 Soil Physics and Conservation
Elwood Black 1979-1984 Soil Fertility
Larry Meyers 1980-2003 Pedology
Donavon Taylor 1981-present Soil Physics and Conservation
Robert Beck 1984-1987 Soil Fertility
Michael Karr 1988-1994 Soil Fertility
Pamela Weller 1999-2015 Introductory Soil Science
William Anderson 2003-present Soil Fertility
Holly Dolliver 2007-present Pedology
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