Aggregates versus pores? A survey among soil scientists about their perspectives on soil structure

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Svenja Roosch 


Despite mostly uniform definitions of soil structure, two perspectives on it have been juxtaposed in the past: the “aggregate perspective” and the “pore perspective”. The debate as represented in the literature appears to be polarised. To test whether this is also the case in the wider soil science community, an online survey was conducted asking about soil scientists’ view on these perspectives. There was a strong bias towards participants from Germany (139 of 251) but all career stages and different sub-disciplines were well-represented, so the results are assumed to be representative at least for the German soil science community. As expected, the largest group of participants (49 %) equally agreed with both perspectives and both concepts were judged as important to understand soil structure. A clear correlation between career stage and strength of opinion could not be found. The survey is not meant to decide democratically on these questions but to give an impression of the status quo of the debate in the wider community. This snapshot is by far not complete. To make best use of research resources, it may be helpful to identify potential barriers to effective communication, like misunderstandings or irrational belief perseverance, in further studies.



Soil Science


Soil structure, aggregates, Debate, survey


Published: 2024-02-08 15:32

Last Updated: 2024-02-08 23:32


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Conflict of interest statement:
I am part of a research group that focuses on microaggregates (see Acknowledgements), which could be perceived as a bias.

Data Availability (Reason not available):
The data set cannot be made publicly available due to protection of privacy of the survey participants. However, I explicitly encourage any interested researcher to contact me for access to the data.