Update: 21.03.2018

It can take more than 1000 years to form a centimeter of topsoil.

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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 82 (April 2012)

Update on IUSS Intercongress Meeting, Jeju, Korea, 3-8 June 2012

  1. For the intercongress meeting please register here: www.20wcss.org
  2. Agenda items for the council meeting can be sent to hartemink@wisc.edu
  3. Agenda and all council information will be send at the end of April
  4. Symposia proposals from all Commissions and Working Groups should be send to the Divisional chairs before 1st May.


International Course on the use of Pyrolysis-GC/MS in soil organic matter studies, From 3-19 December 2012, the School of Agronomy (ESALQ) of the University of São Paulo, Brazil, intends to host a course on the application of pyrolysis-gas chromatography/mass spectrometry to soil organic matter. This is a hands-on course, during which the participants obtain both theoretical knowledge and experience in the identification of mass spectra and data interpretation. The course is open to participants without prior knowledge of this field. The course will be conducted by Dr Peter Buurman of Wageningen University, the Netherlands. The course language is Spanish, but the Power Point slides will be in English. The venue of the course is at the ESALQ campus in Piracicaba (São Paulo province, Brazil). Participation in the course is free of charge. Participants organize and pay their own travel and stay. For information please contact Josiane Millani Lopes:  josiane.lopes@usp.br

New Publications

Soil-Subsurface Change: Chemical Pollutant Impacts. By Bruno Yaron, Ishai Dror, Brian Berkowitz. Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel. April 2012. Springer. ISBN: 978-3-642-24386-8. Hard cover 366 pages. Price $209.00. While the soil-subsurface system has in many cases been affected by human impact, the effects of chemical contaminants on the actual matrix and properties have been largely neglected. The major focus of the book is on changes to the soil-subsurface matrix and properties caused by chemical pollution. By integrating results available in the literature, we observe that chemical pollutants may lead to the irreversible formation of a new soil-subsurface regime characterized by a matrix and properties different than those of the natural regime. In contrast to the geological time scales dictating natural changes to the matrix and properties of the soil-subsurface system, the time scale associated with chemical pollutant-induced changes is far shorter and extends over a “human lifetime scale.” The numerous examples presented in the book confirm that chemical contamination should be considered as an additional factor in the formation of a contemporary soil-subsurface regime that is different than that of the natural system. This book combines soil science, earth science, and environmental geochemistry, providing comprehensive background information for specialists interested in chemical-induced changes in the soil-subsurface system.

Upper Permian Paleosols:  Features, Processes, Еnvironment,  by S.A. Inozemtsev, V.O. Targulian. Moscow – 2010. GEOS. The Upper Permian paleosols compiling three pedocomplexes were described and studied in geological outcrops of red-colored Late Permian sedimentary rocks in the river Sukhona valley (Russian Plain). All individual paleosols were assessed as monogenetic and repeatedly reproduced soil bodies within the pedocomplexes. They were formed due to regular alternation of cycles of sedimentation and hydromorphic pedogenesis on the low alluvial plain. The detail macro-meso-micro- and submicro-morphological as well as chemical and particle size analyses were implemented for each profile of paleosols in pedocomplexes. On this empirical base the reconstruction of paleopedogenesis for each paleosols as well as for the whole pedocomplexes were implemented. The monogenetic profiles of paleosols were horizonated by similar combinations of the main specific pedogenic processes: stagnation, eluviation-illuviation of iron, carbonates and sometimes clays, structural transformation of cambic horizons, sometimes slickenside and humus formation. The whole paleopedcomplexes were formed according to fluvial accretion model of pedogenesis. The paleogeographic reconstruction produced from these paleopedological data is the low alluvial plain with savanna–like vegetation and alternation of semiarid and semihumid hot climate. The book is addressed to scientists in soil science, paleopedology, paleogeography, paleontology and geology.

Biofertilisers and Organic Fertilisers -- a sourcebook-cum-directory. By HLS  Tandon 2011. pp. 156.ISBN: 81-85116- 63-6.Fertiliser Development and Consultation Organisation, 204-204A Bhanot Corner, 1-2 Pamposh Enclave New Delhi 110 048 (India), Price/ copy US$ 60 (inclusive of airmail delivery). www.tandontech.net, Contact: fdco@airtelmail.in. Biofertilisers and organic fertilizers are two of the most important components of integrated nutrient management (INM). Biofertilisers mainly consist of living microbial inoculants which either make net additions to the nutrient supplies (as in case of N fixation) or  as solubiliser/mobilize of  the nutrients already present in the soil (as in case of P/K-solubilisers, mycorrhiza etc). The aim of this publication is (i) to create greater awareness about these vital farm inputs which are now key components of INM(ii) to provide the contact details of producers and products available to the end users farmers and (iii) to stress that biofertilisers and organic fertilizers have a role to play in the entire land under agriculture/horticulture and their use is by no means confined to organic farming/production systems. Apart from an overview chapter, this book deals with the (ii) status of production of biofertilisers and organic fertilizers (ii)quality standards  (iii) a directly of producers and technology providers of producers followed by a listing of research and development resources, addresses of certification agencies for organic production, a detailed index followed by a short functional glossary of common terminology.

Biofertiliser Handbook : research-production-application.  By P. Bhattacharyya  and HLS Tandon 2012. pp. 190 + x.ISBN: 81-85116- 64-4. Fertiliser Development and Consultation Organisation, 204-204A Bhanot Corner, 1-2 Pamposh Enclave New Delhi 110 048 (India), Price/ copy US$ 60 (inclusive of airmail delivery). www.tandontech.net, Contact: fdco@airtelmail.in. This  Handbook  provides a research-based, practically useful account of biofertilisers (nutrient related bio-inoculants) from production to practical application. This handbook covers all major N-fixers (Rhizobium, Azotobacter, Azospirillum, Acetobacter, Blue green algae, Azolla), P-solubilising biofertilisers and nutrient mobilisers such at Mycorrhiza. Some aspects of the versatile fungus Trichoderma are also covered. The various aspects  dealt with in this handbook are: Biofertilisers – their classification, characteristics, role and mode of action; product characteristics, crop specificity, advantage and limitations; impact of biofertilisers on crops, soils and economics; biofertiliser production technology; packaging, labelling, handling and storage of biofertilisers; biofertiliser production and consumption; biofertiliser promotion and marketing; biofertiliser application and practical recommendations; quality standards and methods of analysis ; R&D efforts and resources; references and additional reading material; and finally  a  test by which the readers can test their  biofertiliser knowledge (self test).The text is supported by a number of tables, diagrams, pictures and appendices.This handbook  written in simple English will meet the needs of a diverse readership including the producers of biofertilisers, entrepreneurs planning to enter these fields, microbiologists,   students and teachers in colleges , those practicing organic farming,  R&D centers, persons interested in environmental aspects and eco-friendly technologies, technology transfer centers , independent consultants/farm advisors, and  biofertiliser quality assessment laboratories.

Soil Engineering.Series: Soil Biology, Vol. 20. Dedousis, Athanasios P.; Bartzanas, Thomas (Eds.). 1st Edition., 2010, XI. Springer. ISBN: 978-3-642-03680-4. Hardcover, 230 pages. Price $199.00. This Soil Biology volume will update readers on several cutting-edge aspects of sustainable soil engineering including topics such as: soil compaction, soil density increases, soil disturbance and soil fragmentation; soil tillage machineries and optimization of tillage tools; soil traffic and traction, effects of heavy agricultural machines, the use of robotics in agriculture and controlled traffic farming; mechanical weed control, the characterization of soil variability and the recycling of compost and biosolids in agricultural soils.

Endospore-forming Soil Bacteria. Series: Soil Biology, Vol. 27. Logan, Niall A.; De Vos, Paul (Eds.). 1st Edition., 2011, XV. Springer. ISBN: 978-3-642-19576-1. Hardcover, 347 pages. Price $209.00. Aerobic endospore-forming bacteria are found in soils of all kinds, ranging from acid to alkaline, hot to cold, and fertile to desert. It is well known that endospores confer special properties upon their owners and play dominant parts in their life cycles and dispersal, and much has been written about the spores, genetics, and economic importance of these organisms. Much has also been written about soil ecology, but there is a relative dearth of literature that brings together different aspects of the behaviour and characters of endospore-formers with their contributions to soil ecosystems. This Soil Biology volume fills that gap. Following chapters that describe the current classification of these organisms, that review methods for their detection and for studying their life cycles in soils, and that examine their dispersal, other chapters show that they are active and dynamic members of soil floras that interact widely with other soil inhabitants, with roles in nitrogen fixation, denitrification, and soil remediation.

Soil Health and Climate Change. Series: Soil Biology, Vol. 29. Singh, Bhupinder Pal; Cowie, Annette L.; Chan, K. Yin (Eds.). 1st Edition., 2011, X. Springer. ISBN: 978-3-642-20255-1. Hardcover, 403 pages. Price $209.00. “Soil Health and Climate Change” presents a comprehensive overview of the concept of soil health, including the significance of key soil attributes and management of soil health in conventional and emerging land use systems in the context of climate change.  Starting with a review of the physical, chemical and biological indicators of soil health and their significance for monitoring the impacts of climate change, this book then focuses on describing the role of soil structure, pH, organic matter, nitrogen, respiration and biota in sustaining the basic functions of soil ecosystems, and their anticipated responses to climate change. Further topics include the management of cropping, pastoral, and forestry systems, and rehabilitated mine sites, with a focus on mitigation of and adaptation to climate change impacts. Finally, the opportunities and potential risks of organic farming, biochar and bioenergy systems, and their ability to sustain and even enhance soil health, are discussed.

Organic Farming, Pest Control and Remediation of Soil Pollutants. Series: Sustainable Agriculture Reviews. Lichtfouse, Eric (Ed.). 2010, X. Springer. ISBN: 978-1-4020-9653-2. Hardcover, 418 pages. Price $199.00. Sustainable agriculture is a rapidly growing field aiming at producing food and energy in a sustainable way for humans and their children. Sustainable agriculture is a discipline that addresses current issues such as climate change, increasing food and fuel prices, poor-nation starvation, rich-nation obesity, water pollution, soil erosion, fertility loss, pest control, and biodiversity depletion. Novel, environmentally-friendly solutions are proposed based on integrated knowledge from sciences as diverse as agronomy, soil science, molecular biology, chemistry, toxicology, ecology, economy, and social sciences. Indeed, sustainable agriculture decipher mechanisms of processes that occur from the molecular level to the farming system to the global level at time scales ranging from seconds to centuries. For that, scientists use the system approach that involves studying components and interactions of a whole system to address scientific, economic and social issues. In that respect, sustainable agriculture is not a classical, narrow science. Instead of solving problems using the classical painkiller approach that treats only negative impacts, sustainable agriculture treats problem sources. Because most actual society issues are now intertwined, global, and fast-developing, sustainable agriculture will bring solutions to build a safer world. This book series gathers review articles that analyze current agricultural issues and knowledge, then propose alternative solutions. It will therefore help all scientists, decision-makers, professors, farmers and politicians who wish to build a safe agriculture, energy and food system for future generations.

Lessons learned from Long-term Soil Fertility Management Experiments in Africa. Bationo, A.; Waswa, B.; Kihara, J.; Adolwa, I.; Vanlauwe, B.; Saidou, K. (Eds.). 2012, 2012, VI. Springer. ISBN: 978-94-007-2937-7. Hardcover, 210 pages. Price $189.00. This book elucidates the importance of long-term experiments in revealing evidence of soil fertility decline in Africa. An evaluation of experiences from on-going long-term experiments is given in broad detail. The first chapter explains the paradigm shift in soil fertility management then provides justification for long-term experiments before illuminating experiences from long-term experiments in East, West and Southern Africa. The second, sixth, eighth and ninth chapters give an in-depth account of crop management practices and soil fertility interventions in long-term trials within specific agro-ecological zones in West Africa. The rest of the chapters (chapter three, four, five and seven) address crop management, tillage practices and, organic and inorganic fertilizer applications in the context of long-term experiments in specific agro-ecological zones in East Africa.

Improving Soil Fertility Recommendations in Africa using the Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer (DSSAT). Kihara, J.; Fatondji, D.; Jones, J.W.; Hoogenboom, G.; Tabo, R.; Bationo, A. (Eds.). 2012, 2012, VI. Springer. ISBN: 978-94-007-2959-9. Hardcover, 184 pages. Price $209.00. The book gives a detailed description of the application of DSSAT in simulating crop and soil processes within various Agro-ecological zones in Africa. The book, an output of a series of 3 workshops, provides examples of the application of DSSAT models to simulate nitrogen applications, soil and water conservation practices including effects of zai technology, phosphorus and maize productivity, generation of genetic coefficients, long-term soil fertility management technologies in the drylands, microdosing, optimization of nitrogen x germplasms x water, spatial analysis of water and nutrient use efficiencies and, tradeoff analysis. The minimum dataset requirements for DSSAT is discussed. This book arises from attempts to address the limited use of models in decision support by African agricultural (both soil scientist and agronomists) scientists.

Theory and Practice of Soil Loss Control in Eastern China. Zhang, J.C., DeAngelis, D.L., Zhuang, J.Y. 1st Edition., 2011, XIV. Springer. ISBN: 978-1-4419-9678-7.  Hardcover, 294 pages. Price $179.00. In recent decades in eastern China there has been great progress towards ecological restoration through reforestation of bare lands and steeply sloping cultivated land suffering from serious erosion. This book introduces several soil loss control models suitable for land use strategies along with  many techniques of reforestation with a focus on improving the living standards of farmers. These strategies include “local recycling,” which combines the use of trees (fruit trees, herb, bamboo), crops for feeding livestock, use of animal wastes for biogas and fertilizer, fish production, and a “large scale recycling,” fostering the interaction between the countryside of the mountainous areas and the urban areas in the lower elevations. The “local recycling” can alleviate poverty for farmers and provide fuel material that replaces dependence on twigs and tree litter, which in turn protects the reforested young trees from being harmed. The “large scale recycling” creates a more harmonious society and promotes the common health and wealth of the countryside and the city. This book presents the most comprehensive and successful models of reforestation in eastern China.

Molecular Environmental Soil Science at the Interfaces in the Earth’s Critical Zone. Xu, Jian-Ming; Huang, Pan Ming (Eds.). Jointly published with Zhejiang University Press. 1st Edition., 2010. Springer. ISBN: 978-3-642-05296-5. Hardcover, 364 pages. Price $409.00. "Molecular Environmental Soil Science at the Interfaces in the Earth's Critical Zone" presents contributions from the 1st International Symposium of Molecular Environmental Soil Science at the Interfaces in the Earth's Critical Zone held in Hangzhou, China. It introduces new ideas, findings, methods, and experience on above new and emerging subject areas. A broad range of topics are covered: the role of mineral colloids in carbon turnover and sequestration and the impact on climate change, biogeochemical interfacial reactions and dynamics of vital and toxic elements, ecotoxicology of anthropogenic organics, environmental nanoparticles and their impacts, and ecosystem health. The book will be a valuable reference for researchers in soil chemistry, environmental chemistry, mineralogy, microbiology, ecology, ecotoxicology, and physics.

Fighting Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Multiple Roles of Legumes in Integrated Soil Fertility Management. Bationo, A.; Waswa, B.; Okeyo, J.M.; Maina, F.; Kihara, J.; Mokwunye, U. (Eds.). 1st Edition., 2011, VIII. Springer. ISBN: 978-94-007-1535-6. Hardcover, 246 pages. Price $209.00. Inclusion of legumes in cropping systems can play an increasingly important role to maintain soil fertility and sustain crop production. Legumes are an important source of nutrition to both humans and livestock by providing the much needed protein, minerals, fiber and vitamins. The sale of legumes seed, leaves and fiber generates income for the marginalized communities especially women in the dryland areas. Cultivation of legumes is essential for the regeneration of nutrient-deficient soils. Legumes can be incorporated into cropping systems as green manure, intercropped or rotated with cereals and as leguminous shrubs in improved fallow systems. By biologically fixing nitrogen (BNF) in the soil, legumes provide a relatively low-cost method of replacing otherwise expensive inorganic nitrogen in the soil. Legumes also improve other soil physical properties, provide ground cover and reduce soil erosion, increase soil organic matter, cation exchange capacity, microbial activity and lowers soil temperature and suppress weeds and pests. All these beneficial effects result in enhanced soil fertility and boosts subsequent cereal crop yields. Legumes therefore play an important role of improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers around the world. 

Despite the above benefits, production of legumes in SSA is hampered by a number of constraints. Most soils in SSA are deficient in key nutrients especially phosphorus that is essential for proper legume establishment. Other limitations include low soil pH, high salinity, drought and flooding. Legume production is also hindered by new diseases, pests, and weeds, which farmers need to learn how to control if the full benefits of legumes are to be gained. Beyond the abiotic factors are issues of access to inputs (improved seed and fertilizers), markets and access to relevant production information. This book presents a synthesis of research work on legumes and draws attention to the importance of legumes in integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) and poverty alleviation in SSA.

Biomanagement of Metal-Contaminated Soils. Series: Environmental Pollution, Vol. 20. Khan, M.S.; Zaidi, A.; Goel, R.; Musarrat, J. (Eds.). 1st Edition., 2011, XVIII. Springer. ISBN: 978-94-007-1913-2. Hardcover, 515 pages. Price $179.00. Heavy-metal contamination is one of the world's major environmental problems, posing significant risks to agro-ecosystems. However, conventional technologies for metal-contaminated soil remediation have often been expensive and disruptive.

This book provides comprehensive, state-of-the-art coverage of the natural, sustainable alternatives that use a wide range of biological materials in the removal/detoxification of heavy metals, consequently leading to the improvement of crops in these soils.  Novel, environmentally friendly and inexpensive solutions are presented based on a sound understanding of metal contamination and the roles of plants and microbes in the management of these toxic soils.

Written by more than forty worldwide experts drawing on their wealth of experience in this field, the book provides not only the necessary scientific background but also addresses the challenging questions that require special attention in order to better understand metal toxicity in soils and its management through bioremediation.

Contaminated Urban Soils. Series: Environmental Pollution, Vol. 18. Meuser, Helmut. 1st Edition., 2010, XIX. Springer. ISBN: 978-90-481-9327-1. Hardcover, 318 pages. Price $129.00. This book gives a current overview of all facets of urban soils. Different urban land-use types in a number of examples worldwide are introduced. Many examples in different countries are provided in order to illustrate the situation in detail. The contaminant sources of urban soils (e.g., dust deposition, contamination along roadsides, contamination of floodplains, application of wastewater, anthropogenic deposits) are comprehensively presented. For practical application purposes a key with which to identify technogenic materials during field work is presented. Features like reductomorphic conditions in landfill soils, acidification of coal mining heaps and the impact of physical characteristics such as sealing are taken into consideration in the context of the contamination problem. The mobility of contaminants in the soils under consideration is introduced and discussed. The content of the book, however, is not limited to the description of contaminated urban soils. Different methods of assessment (classification, functional assessment, assessment focused on pathways with reference to standardized exposure scenarios) are introduced. Finally, quality standards for contaminated land in a number of countries are listed, compared and discussed. The book links up the contamination problem of urban soils with geographical aspects such as the historical development of city growth, the process of urbanization and the urban-to-rural gradients. Accordingly, the reader will be able to understand the specific problems of contaminated urban soils and will find sensible approaches to assessment.

Dynamics and Bioavailability of Heavy Metals in the Rootzone. H. Magdi Selim (Ed.). Published by CRC Press. Taylor and Francis. ISBN: 978-1-43-982622-5. Hardcover, 313 pages. Price $129.95.Concerns regarding heavy metal contamination in terrestrial ecosystems have prompted increasing efforts on limiting their bioavailability in the root zone. The complexity of the hydrologic system gives rise to the need for understanding the fate and transport of trace elements in the soil-water-plant environment. Dynamics and Bioavailability of Heavy Metals in the Rootzone”provides a multidisciplinary approach with emphasis on geohydrology, plant and soil science, and environmental chemistry. The primary focus of this book is on different approaches that describe the dynamics of heavy metals in the soil system. These approaches are key to providing direct information on the concentration of heavy metals and hence on their transport, toxicity, and bioavailability. The book includes chapters covering equilibrium and kinetic models of heavy metal interactions as well as non-equilibrium transport models. It also discusses chemical processes controlling soil solution concentrations and modeling of heavy metals adsorption. Addressing the biological component of heavy metal dynamics, this work examines rhizosphere microorganisms and phytoremediation. Colloid-associated transport, which can result in groundwater contamination, is discussed in relation to reclaimed mine sites. The authors also present an overview of recent advancements in the biogeochemistry of trace elements and their environmental implications. Additional chapters include examination of various natural environments including runoff waters at the watershed scale, heavy metal transformation in wetlands, dynamics of trace metals in frequently flooded soils, and effects on crops in biosolid-amended soils. Reliable assessment of potential risks resulting from the transport of trace elements in the soil environment requires the examination of complex chemical and biological interactions due to the heterogeneous nature of soils. This text describes the current state of the art in this field and explores innovative experimental and theoretical/modeling approaches that will enhance this knowledge. The book provides a coherent presentation of recent advances in techniques, modeling, and dynamics and bioavailability of heavy metals in the root zone.