Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

February 1992


Published in Great Plains Research 2:1 (February 1992), pp. 117-118. Copyright © 1992 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Used by permission.


This volume compiles the papers of a workshop that had several foci: the philosophies of soil conservation, the sweeping generalizations from LANDSAT data and their use in GIS, and the infinite detail of classification and genesis of soils, quantification of soil productivity, and techniques for the injection of nitrogen into the soil. The theme of this particular workshop was "Sustainable Agriculture-A Soil Science Perspective." Canadian agricultural scientists, as their U.S. counterparts, appear to have latched onto the buzz word "sustainable." Neither group seems to be able to define clearly what the phrase means. Fortunately for the reader, there is no paper attempting to define the subject included in the book. The phrase simply suggests a system of agriculture that (from our present perspective) can be relied upon for the foreseeable future. Modern methods (even those considered to be "sustainable") known today are not sustainable over the generations ahead because they in total use more energy than they produce. Hence, at some time in the dimly distant future, the huge machines shall grind to a halt, the nitrogen fertilizers shall vanish, and the last pest shall perish from one of the vast array of agricultural chemicals. This is unless (of course) technology comes to our rescue with a new source of energy to use in the manufacture of these items, and the operation of these machines.