The Laboratory of Soil Science was founded in 1907 as First Chair in Agricultural Chemistry when Sapporo Agricultural College became Institute of Agriculture in Tohoku Imperial University. The name of the laboratory was changed to Laboratory of Soil/Nutrition Science in 1964, and started as its succeeding laboratry in 1967. During this time, the First Laboratory and Laboratory of Soil/Nutrition Science were lectured by Professor Kouji Miyake and Professor Yoshiaki Ishizuka, then succeeded by Professor Hideo Okajima and Professor Toshio Sakuma after it became Laboratory of Soil Science, and from 1995, Professor Ryusuke Hatano has been in charge. From 1999 to the present, it has been under Division of Environmental Resource, Chair of Regional Environment that has been established accompanying increased emphasis on the graduate school. Moreover, Professor Hatano is also in charge of Sustainable Production Domain Material Cycling Laboratory at Field Science Center for Northern Biosphere, which was newly founded in 2001.
During the time of Professor Miyake, the impacts of silicate and aluminum to crop growth were researched, and in the time of Professor Ishizuka, hydroponics method was established, with numerous nutritional/physiological researches carried out on rice, leading the establishment of Laboratory of Crop Nutrition. In addition, based on characteristics of pedogenesis under cool-temperate climate, settlement area soil survey was directed, which led the establishment of Laboratory of Land Improvement and Management. During the time under Professor Okajima when it was Laboratory of Soil Science, the research mainly evolved with soil solution, which was the interface between plant and soil. The Soil fertility was researched based on the relationship between land use and concentration of compositions in soil solution, on relationship between concentration of composition in soil solution and solid-liquid equilibrium, and on transfer process of dissolved ions into plant roots. Continuing on in the time of Professor Sakuma, a research was carried out to turn those into numerical models, as well as starting researches into nitrate leaching and nutrient loads into rivers, and on interaction between acid deposition / global warming and soil ecosystems. These researches are continued on to this day at a even higher level, integrated into a research on material cycling in soil ecosystem, and has developed into a research relating to modeling, monitoring and refining in compound basin of various agricultural and forestry ecosystems in Hokkaido. Further research is being carried out into nitrogen cycling, carbon cycling and greenhouse gas emission in particular, around Eastern Eurasia, Southeast Asia especially China, Siberia, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Many of these researches are being carried out as collaborative researches within or out of the university. Not to mention within the Chair of Environmental Resources and cooperating with Field Science Center for Northern Biosphere of Hokkaido University, there are cooperation with other laboratories such as Faculty of Environmental Earth Science, School of Fisheries Sciences, and North Eurasia/Pacific Region Research Centers in Hokkaido University; other universities including Kyushu University, Nagoya University, Shizuoka University, Kyoto University, Kyoto Prefectural University, the University of Tokyo, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, and Tohoku University; national and public research institutions such as National Institute for Agro-Environmental Sciences, NARO (National Agriculture and Food Research Organization) Hokkaido Agricultural Research Center, and Hokkaido Research Agricultural Experiment Station; private research institutions like NTT Energy and Environmental Systems Laboratories; Bogor Agricultural University and University of Palangkaraya in Indonesia; Office of Agricultural Soil in Malaysia; Southwest Agricultural University, Huazhong Agricultural University and Nanking Institute of Soil Science in China, as well as Permafrost Biological Institute in Russia.
The class subjects that the Department is in charge of include Introduction to Soil and Crop Nutrition, Soil Science I, Soil Science II, Experiment Design (Statistics), Physical Chemistry and Bio-function Chemical Experiments I, and Introduction to Geo-science. Soil Science is taught in Graduate School of Veterinary Medicine, while in university-wide education, Advancement of Field Science is taught as a joint lecture. In the graduate school, Biosphere Material Cycling Science is taught as a shared school-wide education, and Soil Environmental Science and Advanced Soil Environmental Science are taught as intensive courses in Research Faculty of Agriculture. Aside from original paper seminars held every week, joint research seminars are held with Soil Amelioration Science Laboratory for graduate students, as well as holding of Material Circulation seminars.
The academic society the laboratory is primarily involved with is Japanese Society of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition. The major research results are published in Soil Science and Plant Nutrition for English publication and Japanese Journal of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition for Japanese publication.