Update: 21.03.2018

There are over 100,000 different types of soil in the world.

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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 115 (January 2015)

New IUSS secretariat

In the last few years the IUSS sought to establish a Permanent Secretariat as one single service organisation in order to guarantee a high level of continuity and coherence in supporting the activities of the IUSS. In January 2015 the IUSS established the new Secretariat which is located in Vienna, Austria. Under the umbrella association BIOS Science Austria (Association for the Advancement of Life Sciences, www.bios-science.at) the Umweltbundesamt (Environment Agency Austria, http://www.umweltbundesamt.at/en/ ) provides the secretariat led by Sigbert Huber.

Financial support comes from IUSS and, in Austria, from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, the Federal Ministry of Science and Research and the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, as well as from the Agency for Health and Food Safety.

The Permanent Secretariat will work closely with the President who will be elected every two years. Whereas the President, supported by the President Elect and Past President, is responsible for the scientific guidance of the IUSS and its bodies, the Permanent Secretariat shall manage the activities of the IUSS and support the organisers of the next world congresses, in particular the Vice President Congress, in their preparatory work.

Contact: iuss@umweltbundesamt.at


Coloring Book released by the Soil Science Society of America

For the younger set, an IYS Coloring and Activity Book has been developed, based on the monthly themes. Each month’s activity has a coloring page and an accompanying activity – a word search, connect the dots, crosswords, and more. It’s a fun way to introduce the topic of soils to kids at the K-2 grade level. The full book (or individual pages) are available for download, at no charge. All pages should be credited to the Soil Science Society of America.

Link: https://www.soils.org/files/iys/iys-colorbook-for-web.pdf


Infographic “Healthy soils for a healthy life“ by FAO

Our soils are in danger because of expanding cities, deforestation, unsustainable land use and management practices, pollution, overgrazing and climate change. The current rate of soil degradation threatens the capacity to meet the needs of future generations. As long as soils are at risk, sustainable agriculture, food security and the provision of ecosystem services are compromised.

Links: http://www.fao.org/soils-2015/en/ ; http://www.fao.org/assets/infographics/FAO-Infographic-IYS2015-en.pdf


International Year of Soils – 2015

2015 is the International Year of Soils. This topic was taken up by BBC Radio in the episode ‘Soils. What have they ever done for us?’ on January 15, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04xrwhc or http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/inscience . The IUSS and with it, many cooperating organizations will celebrate the year in a big way. IUSS has made a list of meetings and conferences that have been planned by the national soil science societies and this list can be downloaded here .

Please send details of any further planned activities and meetings to iuss@umweltbundesamt.at

The IUSS plans to launch its new website in February. Hence we kindly ask all national soil science societies to send us contributions – which will be shown on the web page – about the international year of soils. The contributions can follow the structure outlined below and should be sent to iuss@umweltbundesamt.at :

Description of division, commission, working group or national society (max 500 characters)
Description of activity, idea, topic or event (max 1,500 characters)
When & Where
When and where will the activity or event take place, when & where should the idea be implemented (max 300 characters)
Soil message of the week
Summary of the activity, idea, topic, event for the main webpage (max 300 characters)

IUSS wants to interact more closely with its members, in particular with the national soil science societies. Therefore the new Secretariat kindly asks the national soil science societies to inform IUSS of any changes in the contact details of their Presidents or Secretaries General, or to confirm the renewal of their functions and their contact details.


Conferences, Meetings and Workshops

3rd International Conference on Natural Resource Management for Food Security and Rural Livelihoods.
New Delhi, India, 10 to 13 February, 2015.

The conference is organized by the Soil Conservation Society of India (SCSI), the Indian Association of Soil & Water Conservationists and the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR). The themes of the Conference – namely the development and management of natural resources, improving the profitability of farming, land use planning, rainwater harvesting, flood management and drought management, diversification of cropping systems for environmental sustainability and food security, conservation forestry, agro forestry, social forestry & forest management, bio-industrial watershed management and community participation, remote sensing and GIS in natural resource management – cover the most pertinent issues in the context of agricultural development.

International seminar: Soil trafficability – challenges for soils and vehicles – Tartu, Estonia, March 26–27, 2015.

Vehicle operation on unpaved surfaces is of particular interest for military and agricultural applications, as well as for exploration, construction, and recreation. Problems frequently encountered when using vehicles in landscapes are the destruction of soil and plant cover, the formation of tracks and vehicles becoming stuck, causing damage to the natural environment and preventing the vehicles from serving their purpose. The tire–soil interaction determines the mobility of the vehicle and the dynamics. Therefore, the seminar focuses on investigations and modelling by considering both sides: a) vehicle developments for better soil–tire interactions and b) changes in soil properties over time.

Seminar website: http://pk.emu.ee/struktuur/muld/soil-trafficability-challenges-for-soils-and-vehicles/

Third Brazilian Soil Physics Meeting (3rd BSPM) – 4-8 May, 2015, Curitiba, Paraná State, Brazil.

The deadline for submitting your abstracts for contributions to the Soil Physics Meeting is February 28. Keynote speakers from several countries will present their views on a subject of their choice related to Soil Physics. Participants, especially MSc and PhD students, are encouraged to present their work in the form of a short oral presentation (10 minutes, in English, with 5 minutes for discussion) or a poster (in English) accompanied by a brief oral presentation (2 minutes in English or Portuguese) about a topic related to their current research or a topic of their preference related to Soil Physics.

See the web page for additional details

Global Soil Security Symposium, Global Soil Security Symposium. – May 19-21, 2015 – Texas A&M University, College Station, TX.

Soil security requires the maintenance and improvement of soil resources to be able to meet global challenges to produce food, fiber, and fresh water, to contribute to sustainable energy production, adapt to climate changes, and to maintain biodiversity and human health. Those concerned with achieving soil security recognize that attainment involves scientific, economic, and political engagement to effectively and credibly inform political and legal frameworks and implement appropriate actions. Abstract submission deadline: March 26, 2015.

For more information see new weblink “https://www.soils.org/meetings/global-soil-security”

Land Quality and Landscape Processes Conference and Workshops. – Keszthely, Hungary, 2-4 June 2015.

The conference is organized by the University of Pannonia, the Joint Research Centre, the European Environment Agency and the Chinese Academy of Sciences to facilitate the exchange of information and views among scientists and stakeholders involved in land resource research, land management and land use policy planning. The exchange of experiences at the conference is expected to contribute to an enhanced understanding of the role of land quality in rural systems, underlying processes and the direction, speed and consequences of changes in land quality. The conference also aims to provide a platform which will give an overview of the progress achieved in the development of land information, land registries, land use planning and other services related to land quality on different levels; from the farm level to the global level. The conference also acts as umbrella body for the seminar of the “Sino-EU Panel on Land and Soil” and the scientific meeting of the “Danube Land and Soil Nexus” of the European Union.

For more information see http://lq2015.georgikon.hu/

International Soil Conference on Sustainable Uses of Soil in Harmony with Food Security. August 17-20, 2015, Phetchaburi, Thailand.

The Land Development Department, a long-standing government agency of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives of Thailand that successfully runs a well known “Volunteer Soil-Doctor Program” and promotes sustainable soil management for food security and the well-being of farmers, cordially invites scientists from developing and developed countries and academia, as well as practitioners, policy makers, and interested persons to participate in the “International Conference on Sustainable Uses of Soil in Harmony with Food Security”. This conference is part of the activities to celebrate the International Year of Soils (IYS) as declared by the United Nations, aiming to welcome contributions (oral presentations and posters) from delegates to exchange views and experiences about sustainable uses of soils in order to secure the food production for our societies. Abstract submission deadline: 15 February.

For more information see: http://www.ldd.go.th/WEB_ISC2015/Index.html


New publications

Soil Atlas: Facts and figures about earth, land and fields.

Edited by Christine Chemnitz and Jes Weigelt. Published by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Berlin, Germany, and the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam, Germany, January 8, 2015. The international community has set itself three important goals: to stop the loss of biodiversity, keep global warming to 2° Celsius, and ensure that everyone has the right to adequate food. Without fertile soil, none of these objectives will be achieved. In fact, the soil can do its job only if the life it contains is intact, the humus layer is healthy, and land rights are protected. 2015 is the International Year of Soils, a special opportunity for us all to further the goal of soil protection. This Soil Atlas shows why soils should concern us all and what can be successfully achieved by determined people and organisations.

Field and Laboratory Investigations in Agroecology, Third Edition.

By Stephen R. Gliessman. CRC Press, December 19, 2014, 256 Pages, ISBN 9781439895719. Price (paperback) £25.99. This manual facilitates hands-on learning that involves close observation, creative interpretation, and constant questioning of findings. The investigations emphasize the importance of careful data interpretation and presentation and the value of a clear, concise, and well-written research report. The book uses simple statistical analysis for data management and interpretation and students are guided through the steps of data analysis in the context of the particular investigations in which it is employed.

Geotherapy: Innovative Methods of Soil Fertility Restoration, Carbon Sequestration, and Reversing CO2 Increase.

By Thomas J. Goreau, Ronal W. Larson, Joanna Campe. CRC Press, December 19, 2014, 630 pages, ISBN 9781466595392. Price (hardback) £76.99. The book outlines the basic concepts of geotherapy and highlights the importance of healing the biosphere’s ability to store soil carbon to prevent climate change impacts. Facing challenges head on, it addresses how and why policymakers have underestimated the long-term impacts of climate change and how we can correct the flawed carbon management mechanisms today. The book also includes where carbon can be most effectively stored, how quickly that can be done, and the practical and policy actions needed to get there.

Practical Applications of Agricultural System Models to Optimize the Use of Limited Water.

Editied by Lajpat R. Ahuja, Liwang Ma, and Robert J. Lascano. Advances in Agricultural Systems Modeling – Transdisciplinary Research, Synthesis, and Applications, Volume 5, December 5, 2014, 492 Pages. ISBN: 978-0-89118-343-3 (print), ISBN: 978-0-89118-344-0 (digital). Price $150.00. Completely devoted to the application of models to optimize the use of limited water and nutrients in various climates, this collection will inspire confidence in the capacity of modeling to tackle the biggest threats to secure agriculture. Well-tested process models of cropping systems can extend field research results to apply to long-term weather conditions, as well as other climates and soils, allowing us to explore new management options. The case studies presented in this volume are promising examples of these kinds of solutions.

Soil Security for Ecosystem Management.

Edited by Kapur, Selim and Ersahin, Sabit. Mediterranean Soil Ecosystems 1, Series: SpringerBriefs in Environment, Security, Development and Peace, Vol. 8, Subseries: Mediterranean Studies, December 2014, 167 Pages. ISBN 978-3-319-00699-4. Price (softcover) $49.99. The term “Soil Security” is used in the context of maintaining the quality and quantity of soil needed in order to ensure continuous supplies of food and fresh water for our society. The topics included in this unique book on the management of soil sustainability in the Mediterranean region include: soil information, land degradation, land desertification, pedoenvironments, and the carbon cycle and sequestration. One of the main focuses of the book is the description of new approaches that have been adapted to suit interdisciplinary soil ecosystem management in order to combat and mitigate desertification. The contributing authors are renowned experts in their fields which cover the subjects on traditional as well as innovative land use and management.

Soil Carbon – Science, Management and Policy for Multiple Benefits.

By Edited by S A Banwart, E Noellemeyer, E Milne. CABI, December 2014, hardback, 420 Pages, ISBN 9781780645322. Price $162.00. This book brings together the essential evidence and policy opportunities regarding the global importance of soil carbon for sustaining the Earth’s life support system for humanity. Covering the science and policy background for this important natural resource, it describes land management options that improve the soil carbon status and therefore increase the benefits that humans derive from the environment. Written by renowned global experts, it is the principal output from a SCOPE rapid assessment process project.


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