Science - December 5, 2019

Soil profiles for dummies

Roelof Kleis

Some everyday tools and a couple of litres of Bison sealant: that’s all you need to produce a robust soil profile in the Wageningen style.

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Or to be more precise, in the Peek style, named after the celebrated Wageningen soil science lecturer Gert Peek. The former Teacher of the Year has now retired, but his adapted method for producing a soil profile has recently been recorded scientifically for posterity in the journal Soil and in an online instruction video.

For several decades, Peek used this method in his soil profile weekends, practicals in which students learned how to make their own profile. But the technique had never been recorded, so there was a danger of that knowledge being lost to posterity.

Wie wil er nou geen bodemprofiel boven zijn bed?
Gert Peek

Cathelijne Stoof, the lead author of the article in Soil, can remember making her own profile 18 years ago. But what did you have to do exactly? After she moved to Ede, she went investigating. ‘I had a large wall in my new home that was just right for a soil profile. And I’d seen a nice profile of a push moraine at the end of our street that would be perfect for that wall.’

Stoof asked Peek (who was still working then) for the manual. There turned out not to be one. Peek had never got round to writing down the process. Now that he was retiring, that know-how was in danger of disappearing. Stoof has been able to avoid that with the help of some colleagues (and Peek himself, of course).

The various steps are clearly explained in the article and the instruction video. Anyone can do it, says Stoof. ‘And who wouldn’t want a soil profile above their bed? That comment didn’t come from me, by the way — Gert Peek always used to say that.’