Update: 21.03.2018

Soil carbon is the largest terrestrial pool of carbon.

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The International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) is the global union of soil scientists. The objectives of the IUSS are to promote all branches of soil science, and to support all soil scientists across the world in the pursuit of their activities. This website provides information for IUSS members and those interested in soil science.

IUSS Alert 109 (July 2014)


Boost for Global Soil Science

The World Soil Congress in Korea (8-13 June) was a magnificent global event, well-organised, inspirational, fun and a boost for soil science. Many thanks to Jae Yang, John Kim and all those who made it possible, motivating and so enjoyable. Please visit links below from all moments of the congress:  

Photo Gallery: Click

Opening Ceremony Video 1. Traditional Korean Music and Dance Show: Click

Opening Ceremony Video 2. Sand Art Performance: Click

These links will be available until the beginning of September 2014. For questions about photos, please mail   wcss@20wcss.org. The congress also hosted the first international soil judging contest and here a video what happened after the contest:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzO9TGY7YmQ

A detailed report from the congress will be published in the next IUSS Bulletin, and before you forget: the next World Congress will be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2018, followed by Glasgow in 2022.

Trainings course Commission 1.1

Intensive Training Course on Soil Micromorphology, organized by Commission 1.1. Soil Morphology and Micromorphology. Universitat de Lleida and Institut Cartogràfic i Geològic de Catalunya 22/09/14  -  03/10/14. Tremp (Catalonia, Spain)Theoretical lectures and practical -microscope- exercises. Inscription: www.ice.udl.cat/fc/curso/801 More information:   rosa.poch@macs.udl.cat See also www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzO9TGY7YmQ

New World Soil Museum

ISRIC has opened the new World Soil Museum in Wageningen, The Netherlands. ISRIC, founded by a proposal of the ISSS (now IUSS) has hosted an international soil museum since 1966. In the new World Soil Museum, visitors can learn about the role of soils in life and ecosystems and get an impression of the variation in soils of the world, from the colourful volcanic ash soil from Indonesia to the Terra Preta soil from the Amazon. The museum displays soil monoliths with accompanying data including a full profile description, soil chemical and physical data, and information on the landscape and land-use. For more information click here

Conferences and meetings

5th International Symposium on SOIL ORGANIC MATTER. September 20-24, 2015, Göttingen, Germany. www.som2015.org Soil organic matter (SOM) is the most intriguing feature of soils and one of the most fascinating properties of terrestrial ecosystems. The key role of SOM in stability of global C cycle and greenhouse gas emissions raised studies connecting soils with atmosphere, hydrosphere and phytosphere – all of them with the focus on SOM. Despite static properties of SOM are well known, we just starting to understand processes: formation and functioning, interactions and fluxes, processes and rates.  SOM 2015 will connect pools with fluxes, living and dead organic matter, organic and mineral compounds, topsoil and deep soil, experiments and modeling, terrestrial to aquatic ecosystems, dynamics and sequestration and surely the scientists investigating SOM from over the world. All this is necessary to elucidate Structure, Origin, Mechanisms of SOM formation and functioning. We are looking forward to welcome you in Göttingen for this exciting event of the International Year of Soils 2015.

Inaugural Global Workshop on Digital Soil Morphometrics. 1-4 June 2015, Madison, USA. Digital soil morphometrics is defined as the application of tools and techniques for measuring and quantifying soil profile attributes and deriving continuous depth functions.  In digital soil morphometrics, proximal soil sensing and other tools are used in soil profile descriptions where techniques and toolkits have not changed in the past decades. This is a new IUSS Working Group and the inaugural workshop will be held in 2015. Conference topics include: 1. Soil profile attributes (horizons, texture, colour, structure, moisture, mottles, consistence, carbonates, rock fragments, pores, roots, and all physical, chemical or biological properties). 2. Soil profile imaging, 3. Soil depth functions, 4. Use and applications (environmental consultants, soil classification) The workshop format will be symposia with keynotes followed by 5-10 minutes presentations and ample time for discussions. For more information and expression of interest click here


New Publications

Geotechnics of Organic Soils and Peat. By Huat, B.B.K., Prasad, A., Asadi, A., and Kazemian, S. 2014. CRC Press. 978-04-156-5941-3. Hardcover, 250 pages. Price $139.95 Peat and organic soils commonly occur as extremely soft, wet, unconsolidated surficial deposits that are an integral part of wetland systems. These types of soils can give rise to geotechnical problems in the area of sampling, settlement, stability, in situ testing, stabilization and construction. There is therefore a tendency to either avoid building on these soils, or, when this is not possible, to simply remove or replace soils, which in some instances can lead to possibly uneconomical design and construction alternatives. However, in many countries of the world, these soils cover a substantial land area and pressure on land use is resulting in ever more frequent utilization of such marginal grounds.

For the successful design, construction and performance of structures on such marginal soils, it is crucial to predict geotechnical behavior in terms of settlement, shear strength and stability, with respect to time. This means expanding our knowledge base and calls for a reliable characterization of their geotechnical properties and mechanical behavior and subsequently, the devising of suitable design parameters and construction techniques for dealing with these materials.

Böden der Welt (Soils of the world, in German). By W Zech, P Schad, G Hintermaier-Erhard, 2014. SpringerSpektrum, ISBN 978-3-642-36574-4. 164 pages, 360 figures and photos. 55 Euros. The soils of the world are presented in eleven sections according to the World Reference Base for Soil Resources (WRB, 2006). Nine sections refer to the ecozones of the world (from the polar and subpolar zone to the tropics with year-round rain) and discuss 26 Reference Soil Groups (RSGs) of the WRB. Section ten explains three RSGs dominant in mountain regions and section eleven describes three RSGs with worldwide distribution. For every RSG, the physical, chemical and biological properties are presented, their distribution is explained and the potentials and problems of land use are discussed. Broad attention is given to the soil-forming processes. In addition, for every ecozone, information about location, climate and vegetation is added, a map informs about soil distribution and climate, and some examples for catenas are presented. 157 figures and 203 photos explain soil characteristics and processes in a comprehensive and didactic way.

Agro-Ecological Intensification of Agricultural Systems in the African Highlands. By B Vanlauwe, P Van Asten, G Blomme. 2014, Earthscan. ISBN: 978-0-415-53273-0. Hard Cover 314 pages. Price £85. With growing population and food security risks, there is an urgent need to increase sustainable agricultural productivity in sub-Saharan Africa. This book addresses the issue of agricultural intensification in the humid highland areas of Africa. In addition to introductory and synthesis chapters, the book focuses on four themes: system components required for agricultural intensification; the integration of components at the system level; drivers for adoption of technologies towards intensification; and the dissemination of complex knowledge. It provides case studies of improved crop and soil management for staple crops such as cassava and bananas, as well as examples of how the livelihoods of rural people can be improved.

Elements of Soil Mechanics. 9th Edition. By I. Smith. July 2014. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN: 978-04-706-7339-3. Paperback, 480 pages. Price $49.95. The 9th edition maintains the content on all soil mechanics subject areas - groundwater flow, soil physical properties, stresses, shear strength, consolidation and settlement, slope stability, retaining walls, shallow and deep foundations, highways, site investigation - but has been expanded to include a detailed explanation of how to use Eurocode 7 for geotechnical design. The key change in this new edition is the expansion of the content covering Geotechnical Design to Eurocode 7. Redundant material relating to the now defunct British Standards - no longer referred to in degree teaching - has been removed. Building on the success of the earlier editions, this 9th edition of Smith’s Elements of Soil Mechanics brings additional material on Geotechnical Design to Eurocode 7 in an understandable format.  Many worked examples are included to illustrate the processes for performing design to this European standard. Significant updates throughout the book have been made to reflect other developments in procedures and practices in the construction and site investigation industries. More worked examples and many new figures have been provided throughout. The illustrations have been improved and the new design and layout of the pages give a lift.