Brazilian soil science: from its inception to the future, and beyond
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The present essay is meant to provide some background on the evolution of the soil science community in Brazil, since its inception, to describe its current situation, and to outline a number of opportunities and challenges facing the discipline in decades to come. The origin of Brazilian agronomy dates back to the beginning of the 19th century as a subdiscipline of botany, and its association with chemistry would later establish it as a science. In the middle of the 19th century, agricultural chemistry was born as a result of this association, leading to the establishment of edaphology, a branch of Soil Science. Another branch of Soil Science, known as pedology, was established as an applied and scientific knowledge in Brazil during the middle of the 20th century. During the same period, the Brazilian Soil Science Society (SBCS) was created, merging the knowledge of both branches and gathering all scientists involved. Twenty years after the SBCS foundation, the creation of Graduate Programs made Brazilian Soil Science enter the modern era, generating crucial knowledge to reach the current levels of agricultural productivity. Part of a community composed of 25 Soil Departments, 15 Graduate Programs and a great number of institutions that promote research and technology transfer, Brazilian soil scientists are responsible for developing solutions for sustainable development, by generating, adapting and transferring technology to the benefit of the country. The knowledge produced by SBCS members has been particularly significant for Brazil to achieve the status of most competitive tropical agriculture in the world. In the future decades, Soil Science will still remain topical in discussions regarding environment care and production of food and fibers, in addition, it will be essential and strategic for certain issues, such as water quality, reducing poverty and development of renewable sources of energy.