Update: 21.03.2018

Soil is one of the most complicated biological materials on our planet.

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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 74 (June 2011) 

Information for and from the global soil science community

New IUSS Bulletin

A new IUSS Bulletin (no. 118) is now available in high and low resolution PDF at www.iuss.org In this Bulletin an Editorial by new SG and some ideas from the new SG and DSG. The IUSS is an union of national societies and from now on we will give national societies the opportunity of discussing how it attracts and engages its members and other noteworthy activities. In this bulletin we start off this series with an article by Ellen Bergfeld of the Soil Science Society of America. There are articles on Darwin by H-P Blume and on the Soil of the Year by Monika Frielinghaus. Five questions to a soil scientist is answered by Jon Chorover (USA), Dani Or (Switzerland), Rosa Poch (Spain), Edward Landa (USA), Teodoro Miano (Italy) and Reinhold Jahn (Germany) whereas Paul Hallett (UK and Victor Asio (Phillipines) discuss their favourite books. This – and much more – in the new IUSS Bulletin.

IUSS Change of Address

The IUSS Secretary General Alfred Hartemink has taken up a position at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, USA per August 2011. His new e-mail address is hartemink@wisc.edu The Deputy Secretary General Alex McBratney has taken over the IUSS website that is now hosted in the Australia. It will also be redesigned soon. Please send all information for the website to alex.mcbratney@sydney.edu.au


10th International Conference of the East and Southeast Federation of Soil Science Societies (ESAFS), 10-13 October, Colombo, Sri Lanka. The Federation shall aim at promoting researches in soil and related sciences and disseminating the acquired knowledge and technology for the benefit of the member societies in the region of East and Southeast Asia. By doing so, the Federation shall contribute to the sustainable development of the region through harmonization of agricultural production and environmental protection. The Federation shall also aim at promoting the effective participation of member societies and of individual soil scientist of the region in the work of the International Union of Soil Sciences. The theme of the International Conference is: Soil, a precious Natural Resource: Agricultural Ecosystems, Environmental health & Climate change. It is organized by: Soil Science Society of Sri Lanka, Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Agriculture, Department of Export Agriculture and the University of Peradeniya. More information click here

IFA fertilizer glossary

The glossary is now available on-line in five languages: English, French, German, Spanish and Chinese. Revisions have been made since 1980 by groups of experts brought together in IFA’s Agricultural Committee. There are more than 150 terms and expressions related to fertilizer use, soil science, fertilizer manufacture and analysis, and application machinery and methods. The glossary is organized in five sections, one for each language. Terms are listed in alphabetical order with brief definitions. In some cases there is no equivalent term in other languages, which explains the unequal number of entries in different sections. In some cases the nearest equivalent terms may differ from one language to another. The glossary is a key tool requested by a large majority of members. More information click here

Newsletter Commission 1.4

The IUSS Commission 1.4 Soil Classification decided to start publishing a Newsletter. It will be issued two times a year and is supposed to report the most important events related to classification of soils. Though relevant IUSS Working Groups "World Reference Base" and "Universal Soil Classification" publish their own Newsletters, the Commission will also report shortly the most important activities of these groups. The first issue is already available and covers the following topics: 1) Greetings From the New Chair, 2) New Officers of The Commission and Soil Classification-Related Working Groups, 3) Universal Soil Classification, 4) Guy Smith Medal: Rudi Dudal Presented First Guy Smith Medal, 5) Reports on The Meetings, 6) Forthcoming Meetings, 7) New Books, and 9) Historical Paper. The latter section is supposed to be regular in the Newsletter, presenting the most important old papers related to soil classification. In this issue a chapter from a book by Roy Simonson on the history of soil classification is presented. The Newsletter is available on www.iuss.org under the tab <IUSS Newsletter>

Spanish e-learning resource on soil science

Edafos is a e-learning resource that provides a comprehensive review of the fundamental concepts and processes of soil science in Spanish. It is a multimedia- interactive program with different modules that after outlining the study of soil components goes on to examine the main factors and processes of soil genesis explaining the mechanisms of soil processes. A better understanding of all these new ideas is facilitated by the use of animations, which can illustrate the processes in a more effective manner than static print media. The program ends with the possibility of self-assessment questions obtaining an automatic punctuation. It can be useful from Secondary Education on Natural Sciences to degrees on Agricultural or Environmental Engineering  see: www.cienciadelsuelo.es

New IUSS Cooperating Journal

"Soil Science and Plant Nutrition is the official English journal of the Japanese Society of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition (JSSSPN, Webpage: http://jssspn.jp/index.html), and publishes original research and reviews in soil physics, chemistry and mineralogy; soil biology; plant nutrition; soil genesis, classification and survey; soil fertility; fertilizers and soil amendments; environment; socio cultural soil science. 6 issues per year. Publisher: Taylor & Francis Group, Abingdon, UK. Webpage: http://www.informaworld.com/tssp Personal subscription rate for IUSS members for 2011: US$ 146.00".

Caveat Emptor: Soil Science Books (?) from Alphascript and Betascript

One can find a book on sale on Ebay with the title “Soil Inference System”. The book is 108 pages with an ISBN. But, if you take a clear look at the cover, you’ll see “High Quality Content by WIKIPEDIA articles!” There seems to be a Print-on-Demand company under imprints such as Alphascript and Betascript which has harvested Wikipedia articles, and made them into a series of books, many of them with soil titles. Yes, the books have derived all their contents from Wikipedia. This appears to beg scam which seems to have started last year. So, this is just a warning to people not to get tricked. Alphascript and Betascript are imprints of VDM Publishing (Verlag Dr. Muller) which apparently will publish any book including undergraduate and postgraduate theses. Amazon.com and various online book shops are selling these books. There are about 80 soil-related titles available from Amazon, with titles from “Serpentine Soils” to “Soil Classification”, “Soil Physics”, “Biochar”, “Soil Function” , “World Reference Base for Soil Resources” etc. These some 80 ‘soil’ titles were all published in 2010, by 3 very productive editors: LAMBERT M. TIMPLEDON, MIRIAM T. MARSEKEN, SUSAN F. SURHONE. All together they have edited more 260,921 books, all available from Amazon. That must beat any academic record one can imagine. One wonders what their h indices are? Could be very high if they refer to all the other ones in each book. Further investigation has revealed that this approach is not even original,  Philip M. Parker has ‘patented a method to automatically produce a set of similar books from a template which is filled with data from database and internet searches’ see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_M._Parker  All sad really, but probably inevitable. An automatic reading machine requires to be patented so humans don’t have to bother with this.

Two Vacancies: Lecturer and Senior Lecturer in Soil Science (Australia)

The newly-formed School of Agriculture and Food Sciences at The University of Queensland (Australia) will be advertising two academic positions (one Lecturer and one Senior Lecturer) in the broad Discipline of Soil Science, which includes the areas of soil biology/microbiology, soil physics, soil chemistry, or plant nutrition. The University of Queensland was one of only six institutions in Australia to have the sub-discipline of Soil Science rated in the ERA outcomes, with the group performing “above international standard”. More information will become available in July at: www.uq.edu.au/uqjobs/

New Publications

Biocommunication in Soil Microorganisms. Series: Soil Biology, Vol. 23, Witzany, Günther (Ed.), 1st Edition., 2011, XX, 474 p., Hardcover. ISBN: 978-3-642-14511-7. Price 149,95 €. Communication is defined as an interaction between at least two living agents which share a repertoire of signs. These are combined according to syntactic, semantic and context-dependent, pragmatic rules in order to coordinate behavior. This volume deals with the important roles of soil bacteria in parasitic and symbiotic interactions with viruses, plants, animals and fungi. Starting with a general overview of the key levels of communication between bacteria, further reviews examine the various aspects of intracellular as well as intercellular biocommunication between soil microorganisms. This includes the various levels of biocommunication between phages and bacteria, between soil algae and bacteria, and between bacteria, fungi and plants in the rhizosphere, the role of plasmids and transposons, horizontal gene transfer, quorum sensing and quorum quenching, bacterial-host cohabitation, phage-mediated genetic exchange and soil viral ecology.

Digital Terrain Analysis in Soil Science and Geology. By I.V. Florinsky (Institute of Mathematical Problems of Biology, Russian Academy of Sciences). ISBN: 978-0-12-385036-2. Hardcover, 430 pages, October 2011, 2011, Elsevier - Academic Press. Price $149.95. This book provides an integrated view of the theory, principles, and methods of digital terrain modeling in the context of multi-scale problems of soil science and geology. Digital Terrain Analysis in Soil Science and Geology, based on the author's original interdisciplinary research, is divided into three parts. The first part represents the state-of-the-art in the field outlining mathematical methods used in digital terrain modeling. The second part looks at methods for analysis, modeling, and mapping of spatial distribution of soil properties using digital terrain analysis. The third part considers techniques for recognition, analysis, and interpretation of topographically expressed geological features. The book is addressed to GIS scientists, soil scientists, geologists, geoscientists, geomorphologists, and geographers (at scholar, lecturer, and postgraduate student levels, with mathematical skills), as well as GIS professionals in industry and research laboratories focusing on geoscientific and soil research.

Unsaturated Soils: A fundamental interpretation of soil behaviour. E. J. Murray, V. Sivakumar, ISBN: 978-1-4443-3212-4. Paperback, 304 pages, August 2010, Wiley-Blackwell. Price  €84.00. An understanding of the mechanical properties of unsaturated soils is crucial for geotechnical engineers worldwide, as well as to those concerned with the interaction of structures with the ground. This book deals principally with fine-grained clays and silts, or soils containing coarser sand and gravel particles but with a significant percentage of fines. The study of unsaturated soil is a practical subject, linking fundamental science to nature. Soils in general are inherently variable and their behaviour is not easy to analyse or predict, and unsaturated soils raise the complexity to a higher level. Even amongst practicing engineers, there is often lack of awareness of the intricacies of the subject. This book offers a perspective of unsaturated soils based on recent research and demonstrates how this dovetails with the general discipline of soil mechanics. Following an introduction to the basic soil variables, the phases, the phase interactions and the relevance of soil structure, an up-to-date review of laboratory testing techniques is presented. This includes suction measurement and control techniques in triaxial cell testing. This is followed by an introduction to stress state variables, critical state and theoretical models in unsaturated soils.  A detailed description of the thermodynamic principles as applied to multi-phase materials under equilibrium conditions follows. These principles are then used to explore and develop a fundamental theoretical basis for analysing unsaturated soils. Soil structure is broken down into its component parts to develop equations describing the dual stress regime. The critical state strength and compression characteristics of unsaturated soils are examined and it is shown how the behaviour may be viewed as a three-dimensional model in dimensionless stress-volume space. The analysis is then extended to the work input into unsaturated soils and the development of conjugate stress, volumetric and strain-increment variables. These are used to examine the micromechanical behaviour of kaolin specimens subjected to triaxial shear strength tests and lead to observations not detectable by other means.

Soil Mechanics. NOVA, ISBN: 978-1-84821-102-5, Hardcover, 416 pages, June 2010, Wiley-ISTE. Price €152.40. Knowledge of the behavior of soil mechanics is essential for forecasting the internal displacements and actions of any construction. This book, although theoretical at first glance, also offers a more practical scope, giving readers adequate tools to plan geotechnical projects correctly.



IUSS Alerts are e-mailed to more than 12,000 people in over 100 countries. Please forward the IUSS Alerts to your friends and colleagues. There will be no IUSS Alerts in July and August 2011. Send information for the IUSS Alerts to hartemink@wisc.edu