Update: 19.02.2018

Five tonnes of animal life can live in one hectare of soil.

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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 84 (June 2012)

New IUSS Bulletin

IUSS Bulletin 120 is now available on www.iuss.org In this Bulletin articles by Dick Arnold (“AHA” Moments) and Hans-Peter Blume and Manfred Boelter (Christian G. Ehrenberg and the Birth of Soil Microbiology in the Middle of the 19th Century), Five questions to Daniela Sauer (Germany)
Suk Young Hong (Republic of Korea), IUSS Reports on Schools monitoring soils by Lynn Abbott, and on the Data Model Working Group Report by Peter Wilson, 100 Year Jubilee of Maria Glazovskaya and Igor Krupenikov, IUSS Humanitarian Soil Scientist by Stephen Nortcliff, and reports of meetings, New publications and a list of IUSS Honorary members.

Newsletter Soil Morphology and Micromorphology

The newsletter contains a In Memoriam for Prof. Dr. Ulrich Babel (U. Hohenheim, Bonn 1931-Heilbronn 2011), one of the pioneers of soil micromorphology, particularly on micromorphology of soil organic matter, written by Prof. Georges Stoops. Among the forthcoming conferences and meetings dealing with soil morphology and micromorphology you can find information about Goldschmidt 2012 (Montréal, June 24-29, 2012), Eurosoil 2012 (Bari, July 2-6, 2012), 14th International Working Meeting on Soil Micromorphology (Lleida, July 8-14, 2012), Geomorphic Processes and Geoarchaeology (Moscow-Smolensk, August 20-24, 2012), IUSS Divisional Conference: Soils in Space and Time (Ulm/Donau, 30th September – 4th October 2013). The II Latin-American Course of Soil Micromorphology and Complementary techniques, to be held in Bogotá in 2014 is announced. Finally, six short research notes and abstracts dealing with soil micromorphology and archaeology show the good health and the activity of the Commission. The complete newsletter can be read at: http://loess.umcs.lublin.pl/micro and on the IUSS website.

IUSS Commission 3.6 Salt-affected Soils Conference

Utilization and protection of halophytes and salt-affected landscapes", 4-6. September 2013, Kecskemét, Hungary. The IUSS Commission 3.6 Conference will be an open international conference focusing on utilization, improvement, mapping and protection of halophytes and salt-affected soils, fields and landscapes. The sessions will cover topics as ecology of salt-affected landscapes; new results on salt-affected soils including spatiotemporal changes, mapping and relationship with groundwater properties; furthermore research related to sustainable agriculture on these types of soil; and sustainable use of halophyte plants. Besides plenary sessions, poster presentation session and field trip introducing the typical saline/sodic natural and agricultural landscapes are also included in the program. The conference will foster continued discussion among researchers all over the world who investigate issues of salt-affected soils and saline/sodic landscapes (lagoons, lakes, marshlands, grasslands, etc.) by 20 minute long presentations. More information is available at


2012 Kirkham Conference

The Conference will be held at Wharerata, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
from 28—30 November 2012. Support is available for student attendance. Kirkham Conferences are topical meetings to encourage scientists to make in-depth explorations of interdisciplinary subjects. The Kirkham Family has had long-standing connections with New Zealand, and the 2012 Kirkham Conference will commemorate these links. Invited speakers will give keynote addresses on the contemporary soil physics themes of: up scaling, defining the effective properties of soils, relating structure to function, water repellency and unstable flows, plants and soil, microbial diversity and ecological economics. Further information from Brent.clothier@plantandfood.co.nz or the website

New Publications

The challenge of sustaining soils: Natural and social ramifications of biomass production in a changing world. Verena Winiwarter and Martin H. Gerzabek (Eds.,22 Co-authors): Interdisciplinary Perspectives No. 1 (2012) (Series Editors: Viktor Bruckman, Ernst Bruckmüller, Martin H. Gerzabek, Gerhard Glatzel, Marianne Popp & Verena Winiwarter); 195 pages, € 38.30, ISBN: 987-3-7001-7212-3, orders: Austrian Academy of Sciences, http://verlag.oeaw.ac.at/  Soils perform a variety of functions. Soils are the basis of food and other biomass pro ducts; they provide crucial resources; and they store, filter, and transform materials (such as water) that are vital for life. Soils are a physical and cultural environment for humankind, a natural habitat, and they sustain the largest gene pool in the biosphere. Pressures on soils are increasing dramatically. Soils need to become central to global change discussions in order to advise policy makers in their understanding of the potentials, limits, and vulnerabilities of soils. In particular, strategies for sustainable management of soils in a rapidly changing world require a better understanding of soil-human interactions. Human impacts on soils are complex and site specific; resulting in pressures on biodiversity, water availability and quality, and the atmosphere. Our rapidly increasing needs for food and energy place growing and conflicting demands on soil. Development issues, food security, nature conservation, our dependence on fossil fuels, social inequality, and armed conflict all have a bearing on soils. This volume is a truly interdisciplinary attempt to offer an overview of the natural and the social side of the challenge of sustaining soils. 21 world-renowned experts from a wide range of backgrounds review the existing knowledge from which an integrated assessment of the challenges ahead emerges. Soils and societies are linked in a historically and geographically wide-ranging overview that allows readers to understand how deeply-rooted current problems are, but also offers a perspective on potentially sustainable solutions. The links of soils and atmosphere are described with respect to biomass production and global climate change, which are considered together. How the agrofuel option has been transformed into EU policy and how this policy in turn transformed and continues to transform European and African land is another topic, which is discussed in depth. In this book, soils are put centre stage in the debate about global climate change and biomass production, which influences considerably the evaluation of sustainable options for the future.

Agro-ecological Land Evaluation for Sustainable Rural Development, e-book edition  (Evaluación Agro-ecológica de Suelos para un Desarrollo Rural Sostenible, in Spanish).  D. De la Rosa.  Paraninfo Ed., Madrid, 2012, 404 p. and the content of attached CD-ROM.  ISBN: 978-84-8476-361-1 (Printed version). The main focus of this book is that using soil type information in decision making is at the heart for sustainable use and management of agricultural lands. Following an innovator framework rooted in the land evaluation and the agro-ecological zoning disciplines, and as interface between land resources survey and  land use planning, the major features are: the basic information from soil survey, soil inventory and soil monitoring; the additional information referred to climate and farming factors; the agro-ecological land evaluation analysis through soil interpretation, pedotransfer functions, land capability, crop and forest suitability, soil productivity, soil erosion risk, soil contamination risk and soil compaction risks; the soil impacts evaluation due to climate change; and the integrated land evaluation systems by using harmonization database management systems (ex. the SDBmPlus soil profile database), biophysical modeling through different artificial Intelligence based techniques (ex. the expert system/neural network ImpelERO soil erosion model), and results spatialization by geographical information technology (GIS), in order to approximate to real decision support systems (DSS). As a case study applying the agro-ecological decision support system MicroLEIS DSS to Sevilla Province (Spain), soil specific strategies to maximize land productivity and to prevent land degradation are predicted within two major topics: the strategies related to land use planning, at a regional scale; and the strategies related to soil management planning, at a farm level. Toward a new agro-edaphological paradigm is the last topic of the book, showing the need to continue to identify and share the scientific information and practical knowledge that support successful and sustainable agriculture systems in the future. The book is extensively referenced and includes tables and figures to explain data.  Also, the main software components of MicroLEIS DSS can be installed and applied from the attached CD-ROM.  A foreword by Prof. Winfried Blum advocates the launching of innovated predictive strategies for sustainable land use and soil protection in agriculture. E-book price: 47.20 euros.  Orders to: Ediciones Paraninfo S.A., Avda. Filipinas 50,   28003 Madrid (Spain).  E-mail: clientes@paraninfo.es   Internet: www.paraninfo.es

Soil Hydrology, Land Use and Agriculture: Measurement and Modelling. M K Shukla (Ed.). CABI. ISBN: 9781845937973. Hardcover, 448 pages. Price $180.00.Agriculture is strongly affected by changes in soil hydrology as well as by changes in land use and management practices and the complex interactions between them. This book aims to expand our knowledge and understanding of these interactions on a watershed scale, using soil hydrology models, and to address the consequences of land use and management changes on agriculture from a research perspective. Case studies illustrate the impact of land use and management practices on various soil hydrological parameters under different climates and ecosystems.

Laboratory Guide for Conducting Soil Tests and Plant Analysis. By J. Benton Jones, Jr. Taylor and Francis. ISBN: 978-0-8493-0206-0. Paperback, 384 pages. Price $107.95.With the help of this guide, you can use obtained test results to evaluate the fertility status of soils and the nutrient element status of plants for crop production purposes. It serves as an instructional manual on the techniques used to perform chemical and physical characteristic tests on soils. Laboratory Guide for Conducting Soil Tests and Plant Analysis describes the basis and procedures for each test in detail, including analytical instrumentation procedures and laboratory quality assurance requirements.

Hula Valley: Ecology, Hydrology, Agriculture, Nutrient Dynamics, Tourism and Nature Conservation. Series: Environmental Science and Engineering. Subseries: Environmental Science. Gophen, Moshe. 2012, 2012. Springer. ISBN: 978-3-540-88249-7. Hardcover, approximately 300 pages. Price $129.00. The book subject is a comprehensive ecological insight into a natural ecosystem that was strongly modified by human intervention and its management has a significant impact on water, agricultural, natural and touristic resources. The anthropogenic and natural impacts on the ecosystem are crucial for the sustainability of the regional economy and national water supply. The chapters are giving a scientific-descriptive information on long term natural and anthropogenic processes. The presented information is a thorough guideline of long term human experience of intervention in natural ecosystem structure with indications for predicted sustainability. The book chapters cover topics of hydrology and eco-hydrology, limnology, geochemistry, underground waters, peat soil chemistry and degradation, natural resources of plants and animal (emphasizing birds) agricultural developments and the introduction of eco-tourism into the management design.

Soils of the World. Original German edition published by Spektrum Akademischer Verlag GmbH Heidelberg. Zech, Wolfgang, Hintermaier-Erhard, Gert. 2012, 2012. Springer. ISBN: 978-3-540-30460-9. Hardcover, 180 pages. Price $99.00. This book describes and comprehensively illustrates all earth soils in accordance with the prevailing worldwide WRB classification. However, it goes far beyond description and definition, by presenting the soils in the context of the natural habitats in which they occur. The book is structured in line with ecological zones. Initially their location, the climate and the vegetation as well as the factors influencing the constitution of the soil are briefly presented. All soils representative of the corresponding ecological zone are then defined and described in detail: definition, diagnostic features, physical, chemical and biological characteristics, occurrence and distribution, use and endangering, processes influencing soil formation, distribution maps, diagrams showing profile characteristics and soil formation processes, photographs of soil profiles, photographs of soil-scapes and soil catenas. All these factors contribute to producing an impression of their characteristics as well as their natural surroundings. The very instructive photographs and graphs combine to make the publication an excellent reference book about the earth’s soils and their distribution.

Toxicity of Heavy Metals to Legumes and Bioremediation. Zaidi, Almas; Wani, Parvaze Ahmad; Khan, Mohammad Saghir (Eds.). 2012, 2012, XII. Springer. ISBN: 978-3-7091-0729-4. Hardcover, 248 pages. Price $189.00. This title discusses various effects of heavy metal exposure to legumes as well as the bioremediation potential of rhizosphere microbes. Availability of heavy metals, their uptake and the effects of metals on germination and various physiological functions of plants including legumes are presented. Furthermore, the effects of heavy metals to nitrogen fixing microorganisms and how microsymbionts can overcome metal stress is presented in detail. The influence of glutathione on the tolerance of Rhizobium leguminosarum to cadmium is discussed. The role of nitrogen fixers in decontamination of heavy metal toxicity, mycoremediation of metal contaminated soils, microbially mediated transformation of heavy metals and action of plant growth promoting rhizobacteria and nitrogen fixers together in detoxifying heavy metals are broadly explained. This volume is a useful tool for scientists, policy makers and progressive legume growers intending to develop safe and healthy legumes for future generations.


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