Soil Scientist

Soil Scientist

Soil scientists study the chemistry, biology and physics of soils in order to understand how we can improve farming and forestry yields, and manage environmental outcomes such as erosion, greenhouse gas emissions and water quality.

Increasing numbers of high intensity farms means that soil scientists are becoming even more important. We need to understand how to manage the impact of fertilisers and irrigation on soils and reduce the leaching of nitrogen and phosphorus into streams and rivers.

Understanding how soils behave under changing conditions, for example in terms of releasing methane gas, will help inform strategies to reduce the effects of climate change.

As in most research areas, to be a soil scientist you will generally need to complete a PhD and several postdoctoral positions in order to get a permanent position. Competition for these roles can be fierce.

Most soil scientists in New Zealand are employed by:

  • Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) such as Landcare Research and AgResearch
  • Universities
  • Government departments, such as the Ministry for Primary Industries

Soil scientists typically earn:

  • $40-75,000 in a technician or research associate role
  • $60-90,000 with a PhD

Key tertiary qualifications include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Ecology or Geology is required for technician-level roles
  • A Master of Science or PhD degree is required for research roles

Recommended school subjects:

  • Maths
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • English

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Soil Scientist: People who work in this role

  • Sam McNally

    Post Doctoral Scientist, Sam McNally at work

    Matthew Norris

    Research Associate- soil scientist, Matthew Norris at work

    Seth Laurenson

    Soil Scientist, Seth Laurenson at work

    Dirk Wallace

    Soil Scientist, Dirk Wallace at work
  • Michelle Peterson

    Soil Scientist, Michelle Peterson at work

    Fiona Curran-Cournane

    Environmental Scientist, Fiona Curran-Cournane at work

    Selai Letica

    Scientist, Selai Letica at work

    Sharn Hainsworth

    Scientist, Sharn Hainsworth at work

Soil Scientist: Companies that employ people in this job role

  • Ministry for Primary Industries
    Ministry for Primary Industries
    AgResearch
    AgResearch
    Plant & Food Research
    Plant & Food Research

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