Soil Science has been taught in University of Peradeniya since the inception of higher education in agriculture in 1948. A fully-fledged Department dedicated for the discipline of soil science was established in 1986. Being the only Department having more than 30 years of experience in teaching and research in Soil Science in the higher education system in Sri Lanka, the Department is heavily involved with capacity building and providing consultancy and advisory services to regulatory and policy making bodies of Sri Lanka. At present the Department of Soil Science is responsible for teaching and conducting research pertaining to the broad areas of soils, plant nutrition and environmental aspects related soil science at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
Soil Science discipline is taught at the core programmes B.Sc. in Agricultural Technology and Management (Ag.Tech. &Mgt.) and B.Sc. in Animal Science and Fisheries as well as in the advanced module of Soil and Environment of Ag.Tech.&Mgt. degree. Courses of the core program for the B.Sc. in Ag.Tech. &Mgt. are designed to build up the knowledge progressively starting from Soil Formation to Soil Management. The advanced module in Soil and Environment is designed to address environmental issues providing an in-depth knowledge on soil as a natural resource and theoretical aspects that are essential to develop the technologies to accomplish sustainable land management. The department is also involved in teaching and academic administration of postgraduate degrees through the Board of Study in Soil Science at the Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture. The Board of Study in Soil Science offers M.Sc. degree programs in Environmental Soil Science, Soil &Environmental Microbiology and Tropical Soil Management. In Addition, academic staff also renders their services as supervisors in M.Sc., M.Phil. And PhD degree programmes related to Soil Science.
The Department has a strong research culture and a number of research programs related to soil productivity and environmental quality aspects are being conducted. The laboratories of the department are well equipped with modern soil analytical equipment’s exposing undergraduate and postgraduate students to high end technologies and providing opportunities to gain hands-on experience on operating them. Separate research laboratories dedicated for Soil and Environmental Chemistry, Soil Physics, Geospatial Data Analysis, Soil Microbiology and Molecular Biology are available for facilitating teaching and research in the Department. The department also shares the facilities of the Soil Survey Laboratory and SRICANSOL, Resource Centre which was developed with the partnership of Soil Science Society of Sri Lanka.
The Department conducts a number of outreach activities supporting the training need and education of technical officers, teachers and school children. Soil, Plant and Water Analyses Service of the department of Soil Science is functioning since mid-90's to cater to requests of the wide range of stakeholders including researchers, industry and farmers.