Welcome to Stellenbosch University

Department of Soil Science

​​​​​​​​What is Soil Scie​nce?

Soil is the extremely thin but precious skin covering our planet that sustains all terrestrial life forms and contributes nutrients and filters contaminants to aquatic environments. Soil Science focuses on the importance of soils as a very slowly renewable natural resource. It involves the study of the properties and proc​​esses that occur in soils, as well as the sustainable use and management of soils for the benefit of mankind. Given the rapidly growing population, possible future water shortages, increasing pollution, soil degradation and ever-increasing food needs, Soil Science is indispensible for the prosperous future of humankind. ​

The Departmen​​t of Soil Sci​en​​​ce​

The Department of Soil Science considers the management and improvement of Southern Africa's soils​​​ to be of crucial importance, and a huge responsibility rests on the shoulders of researchers in this field to promote the sensible and sustainable utilisation of the soil. The Department of Soil Science teaches and conducts research in all ​the major sub-disciplines of Soil Science, which in​clude soil formation and classification (Pedology), soil mapping and land evalution, soil chemistry, soil fertility, soil physics, soil water management, soil hydrology, remote sensing of soils, soil biology and soil ecology. Undergraduate students are equipped with fundamental scientific knowledge of soils, but also practical experience. This includes learning how to classify soils in the field and compile a land suitability survey; how to sample soils and determine soil chemical and physical properties in the field and laboratory; and how to interpret the results of the analysis and write up scientific reports. Postgraduate students are mentored to be able to formulate and conduct experiments, analyze and interpret data, and write-up research for publication in peer-reviewed publications​. ​​

Programme Information ​

Undergraduate courses​

BScAgric (Plant and Soil Sciences)

The four-year programme in Crop Production Systems covers training in producing crops such as agronomic and vegetable crops, pastures, deciduous fruit, citrus and vine. 
In this programme there are three fields of study from which you may choose:

  • Crop Production
  • Crop Protection and Breeding
  • Soil and Water Management

In the field of Soil and Water Management, you are trained to understand the nature, importance and management of soil and water as they relate to crop production and enviromental management. You can major in Soil Science and either Agronomy, Chemistry, Horticulture, Plant Pathology or Viticulture. Taking one of these streams prepares you for a variety of careers in the agriculture industry or enviromental-related industries, including careers such as consultant, entrepreneur, manager, technician or researcher.​

Postgraduate courses​ 

MScA​g​​ric (Soil​ Science)

This programme consists of a two-year research-based MScAgric degree. Research of an approved topic as decided on by the department. An MSc thesis, Soil Science 878, containing original research is required. At the completion of the study an acceptable thesis must be submitted and an oral examination will be held.​​

P​hD (Agric​) (So​il Science)

This programme focuses on research in one of the various specialization fields of Soil Science and trains students to become a subject specialist in this field. A PhD dissertation, Soil Science 978, containing original research is required. Research of an approved topic as decided on by the department. At the completion of the study an acceptable thesis must be submitted. An oral examination will be held.​​


The Department of Soil Science plays a significant role in the well-being and sensible management of South Africa's soil resources. The Department's research covers, among other things, the influence of agricultural activity on the salinisation of the Berg River, the water balance of  irrigated fruit crops, the modelling of water movement through soils, sustainble soil fertility management in large and small-scale farming, effect of land-use on soil C stocks,  treatment of soil with biochar, ecosystems and biodiversity, and the protection of natural resources against pollution.

Africa initiatives include research on soil constraints to small-scale agriculture in Zambia and on plantation cultivation of teak in the Sudan. Ecological soil investigations include factors such as soil infiltrability, determinants of savannah grassland boundaries, restoration of degraded subtropical thicket, dieback of trees in the Ngorogoro crater and black rhino conservation.

Contact Details

Department of Soil Science

Faculty of AgriSciences

Postal address: Private Bag X1, Matieland, 7602, South Africa

Physical address: Lombardi Building, Room 3005, Victoria St, Stellenbosch, 7600, South Africa

Tel.:  +27 21 808 4794        Fax:  +27 21 808 4791

E-mail:      Web:

Facebook:  Department of Soil Science, Stellenbosch University


Academic and Research Staff​​​​

Academic and Research Staff​Telephone​Email​Field of Interest

Dr Eduard Hoffman 
Head of Department

+27 21 808 4789


​Soil Physics, Soil Water Management​

Dr Andrei Rozanov
Senior Lecturer
+27 21 808 Biology, Soil Mapping and GIS
Dr Ailsa Hardie
Senior Lecturer 
+27 21 808 4790 Chemistry, Soil Fertility
Dr Cathy Clarke
​+27 21 808 3659 and Land Evaluation
​Mr Eugene (Vink) Lategan
+27 21 808 4794​​Soil Physics, Soil Water Management
Dr John Simaika    
Postdoctoral Fellow
+27 21 715​Soil Ecology
Dr Anthony Mills
xtraordinary Professor
+27 21 715 1560  
​​Soil Ecology
Dr Johan van Zyl  
Extraordinary Professor
​​+27 21 808 4787​
​Soil Physics, Soil Water Management


Support Staff

Support Staff​Telephone​​Email
Ms Annatjie French 
+27 21 808 4794
Ms Tatiana Tarassova 
Laboratory Manager
+27 21 808 9589
Mr Nigel Robertson 
Senior Technical Assistant
+27 21 808 4738