Update: 12.02.2018

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 118 (April 2015)


IUSS booth at EGU general Assembly in Vienna

The IUSS successfully presented itself at booth No. G19 of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly 2015, Vienna, Austria, April 12-17, 2015. EGU 2015 attracted more than 12,000 participants bringing together geoscientists from all over the world, covering all disciplines of the Earth, planetary and space sciences. The IUSS took this opportunity to present a new flyer and posters, which were well received. The World Soil Map according to WRB and US Soil Taxonomy respectively were displayed, showing the diversity of soils around the planet. A globe showing the world’s soils attracted particular attention. Another highlight was the announcement of the 21st World Congress of Soil Science (WCSS), which will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 12-17, 2018.
In addition, a wide array of information material from the national soil science societies was made available to the participants. Rainer Horn, IUSS President, gave a speech on soil strength in the course of session Soils of the world: from natural to urban soils. Another one of his speeches on Soil Science Societies and their role for improving soil governance at a global leveI, held in Brazil, was made available at the booth.

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IUSS Bulletin 126

The IUSS had to postpone the production of its next Bulletin to May 2015. So we kindly ask those who still want to make contributions including activity and meeting reports as well as book reviews to do so latest by the end of April 2015 to iuss@umweltbundesamt.at

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Why You Can’t Have Organic Food Without Soil

Hydroponic farming is missing one very important ingredient, and a whole way of thinking that goes along with it. Read more at http://civileats.com/2015/04/13/why-you-cant-have-organic-food-without-soil/

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Restoring our soils by learning from history

Most of our ideas about soils ignore the millions of years before mankind started farming. But what happened during the 99.9% of a soil’s history contains very important lessons. So let us celebrate the International Year of Soils by looking at what that history can tell us – and build on those lessons for the future. http://www.agriculturesnetwork.org/magazines/global/soils-for-life/conservation-agriculture

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We’re treating soil like dirt. It’s a fatal mistake, as our lives depend on it

To keep up with global food demand, the UN estimates, 6m hectares (14.8m acres) of new farmland will be needed every year. Instead, 12m hectares a year are lost through soil degradation. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, the world on average has just 60 more years of growing crops.
The intensification of farming over the last century has increased the rate of soil erosion 60-fold. Among the solutions suggested are zero-tillage (also known as conservation agriculture) and permaculture, which means working with complex natural systems. Read more http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/mar/25/treating-soil-like-dirt-fatal-mistake-human-life

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Soil is a non-renewable resource. Its preservation is essential for food security and our sustainable future

FAO communication toolkit for International Year of Soils 2015

The FAO IYS communications toolkit provides tools and suggestions for informing and engaging the public in soil-related activities. It contains key information and tips. You can use the toolkit videos, photos and promotional materials to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of soils. This material can be shared with community institutions such as schools, local farmers’ associations and businesses, and local or national media outlets and government offices. Download it: http://www.fao.org/soils-2015/communications-toolkit/en/ and http://www.fao.org/soils-2015/en/

Soil Lessons: Tea4Science

Students will use a simple method to measure decay of organic matter (plants)by making use of commercially available tea bags. The method consists of burying Lipton tea bags with Green tea and Rooibos tea, and digging them up after three months. The retrieved bags are dried, cleaned on the outside, and weighed on a balance with a minimum of two decimal places (preferably at least three). Thereafter, weight loss, decomposition rate, and stabilization index will be calculated using the collected data by the teacher or the students (if their age allows) using an Excel sheet.

The students can take part in a global citizen science experiment by sending their data to the Tea Bag Index Project (in the period mid-2015 to 2018). The students will learn that (1) there is biological activity in the soils, (2) the intensity of this biological activity depends on environmental conditions, and (3) this biological activity has feedbacks that influence climate change. For more details see http://www.soils4teachers.org/files/s4t/lessons/lesson-plan—tea4science.pdf

Soil Erodibility dataset in Europe

An extension to the existing soil erodibility dataset (EU-25) is made available: the K-factor data are available for the 28 European Union Member States (including Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia). Due to a number of requests from non-EU users, extrapolated datasets are now also available covering also Norway, Switzerland, Balkan states, Moldova and Ukraine. Download the data: http://eusoils.jrc.ec.europa.eu/library/themes/erosion/Erodibility/

IPBES - Call for nomination of experts

The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity & Ecosystems Services has launched a call for nomination of experts for deliverables on: 1) a set of regional and subregional assessments of biodiversity and ecosystem services (Americas, Africa, Asia and Pacific, Europe and Central Asia); 2) a thematic assessment of land degradation and restoration; 3) the scoping of a global assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Contact info@globalsoilbiodiversity.org for more information.

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Conferences, Meetings and Workshops

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

Soil security requires maintenance and improvement of the soil resource 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. The conference will address five dimensions of soil security: capability, condition, capital, connectivity and codification. More at https://www.soils.org/meetings/global-soil-security . Please note that the Pre-Symposium Tour: The US Dust Bowl and Soil Security: Addressing Challenges in a Changing Climate was canceled.

35th International Symposium on Halogenated Persistent Organic Pollutants (Dioxin2015), São Paulo, Brazil, August 23-28, 2015

The symposium will include a special session on sources and fate of halogenated organic persistent pollutants in soils and sediments. More at http://www.dioxin2015.org/program_topics.php

Soil Functions and Climate Change – do we underestimate the consequences of new disequilibria in soil properties? – SUSTAIN 2015, Kiel, Germany, September 23-26, 2015

Please note: Application date was extended until April 30th, 2015. For further detailed information see http://www.soils.uni-kiel.de/de/sustain-2015

Seminar of the Fires-Soil Network and Iberian-African-American Symposium of Risks, Faro (Portugal) November 4-6, 2015

With the theme “Risks, Forest Fires and Territory”. The seminar and symposium aim to contribute to disseminate new approaches on the thematic of risks, in particular forest fires and their implications in the territory. To this end, several issues will be debated, not only related to forest fires and their effects on soils, but also new technologies in risk management; prevention techniques, security and risk mitigation; analysis, governance and communication of risks. Additional information may be found on the webpage of the Seminar: http://www.uc.pt/fluc/nicif/riscos/Congresso/ISRIS_ENG

2nd International Workshop SOMpatic on “Soil Organic Matter Balance methods as practice-applicable tools for environmental impact assessment and farm management support”, Rauischholzhausen,Germany, December 8-10, 2015

With the term ‘soil organic matter balances’ we refer to practice-applicable models for the assessment of the supply of organic matter to arable soils. To achieve applicability in practice, such models must cope with a very low availability of input data. Therefore, they are very much dependent on a reliable and robust parametrization. The 2nd workshop will adress this issue with the aim to elaborate an overview of the state of data for the parametrization of soil organic matter balance models. More at http://www.uni-giessen.de/cms/sompatic

2nd Global Soil Biodiversity Conference 2017 – Invitation for Bids.

The GSBI scientific committee is seeking offers to host the 2nd Global Soil Biodiversity Conference to be held in 2017. The first conference “Assessing soil biodiversity and its role for ecosystem system services” was held in Dijon, France in 2014 and attracted over 700 delegates from across the globe. The conference in 2017 will provide a venue to continue the discussion on soil biodiversity and promote collaborations across disciplines and borders. Please provide the information outlined in the selection criteria to info@globalsoilbiodiversity.org for consideration until May 1, 2015.

21st World Congress of Soil Science (WCSS), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 12-17, 2018

The theme will be “Soils to feed and fuel the world”. The (WCSS) is the main event of the IUSS. It takes place every 4 years and is open to all Members of the IUSS and other participants. For further information go to http://www.21wcss.org or contact Flavio Camargo, Vice President Congress, at fcamargo@ufrgs.br

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New publications

Soils Host a Quarter of our Planet’s Biodiversity

International Year of Soils 2015 Published by FAO 2015. Biological diversity or ‘biodiversity’ is described as “the variability among living organisms from all sources, whether terrestrial, aquatic or marine”. It includes the diversity within species (genetic diversity), between species (organism diversity) and of ecosystems (ecological diversity). Soil is one of nature’s most complex ecosystems and one of the most diverse habitats on earth: it contains a myriad of different organisms, which interact and contribute to the global cycles that make all life possible. Nowhere in nature are species so densely packed as in soil communities; however, this biodiversity is little known as it is underground and largely invisible to the human eye. For download: http://www.fao.org/documents/card/en/c/43b565e7-57c2-43c6-b4f0-812091486ed3/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social%2Bmedia&utm_campaign=faoknowledge

Agriculture for Development, No 24, Special Issue on Soils

guest-edited by David Dent. Tropical Agriculture Association, Spring 2015, ISSN 1759-0604 (print), ISSN 1759-0612 (online). Provides a longer, closer look at land degradation; Managing soil carbon; Soil erosion and conservation; Ecological restructuring of agriculture; Soil fertility in sub-Saharan Africa; Healthy soil: for healthy people and landscapes; New ways of looking at the soil profile. http://www.taa.org.uk/publications.asp

Spanish Journal of Soil Science (SJSS), Vol. 5/1, 2015

The SJSS is a peer-reviewed journal with open access for the publication of soil science research, with no cost for authors, which is published every four months. The editors would be very grateful if you consider publishing on the SJSS and disseminating its contents. More at: https://sjss.universia.net/issue/archive

Soil. Skin of the Planet Earth

by Miroslav Kutílek and Donald R. Nielsen, Springer, 2015; 239 pages, 83 illustrations, 14 illustrations in colour. ISBN 978-94-017-9789-4; Price (hardcover): €27.99, £22.00 or $27.99. The book brings a complete review on soil science; it is unique in its form accessible to readers without knowledge of natural sciences. The main focus of this monograph is to explain the important role of soil and the environment to a broad audience. The authors describe a responsible approach and use of soil, established on a basic knowledge of the nature of soil and the countless ongoing processes within soil and explain the precarious link between soil and regional environment, which is indispensable for plant and animal communities. In addition, the unique roles of soil texture, soil structure and soil pore systems in hydrologic cycles, plant nutrition and conditions affecting the preservation or eventual extinction of soil are described. The book concludes with the principles of soil protection and revitalization.

Heavy Metal Contamination of Soils – Monitoring and Remediation

Editors: Sherameti, Irena, Varma, Ajit, Series Soil Biology, Volume 44, Springer, 2015; 497 pages,. ISBN 978-3-319-14525-9; Price (hardcover): $ 159,00. Following a description of the various sources and factors influencing the contents of heavy metal pollution in post-catastrophic and agricultural soils, subsequent chapters examine soil enzymes and eggs as bio-monitors, lead adsorption, the effects of arsenic on microbial diversity, and the effects of Mediterranean grasslands on abandoned mines. A third section focuses on the adaptation strategies used by plants and bacteria, such as Pinus sylvestris in industrial areas, and the rhizosphere in contaminated tropical soils and soil treated with sewage sludge. Further topics addressed include strategies of bioremediation, e.g. using transgenic plants as tools for soil remediation.

Cryopedology

by Bockheim, James G., Series Progress in Soil sciences, Springer, 2015; 177 pages,. ISBN 978-3-319-08484-8; Price (hardcover): $ 129,00. This is the first book solely devoted to Cryopedology, the study of soils of cold regions. The analysis treats Cryosols as a three-part system (active layer, transition layer, permafrost). The book considers soil-forming factors, cryogenic processes, and classification and distribution of Cryosols. Cryosols of the Arctic, Antarctica, and the high mountains are considered in detail. The chapters address cryosols and earth-system science, cryosols in a changing climate, cryosols databases and their use, and management of cryosols. The book is rich in color photographs and highlights the author’s 43 field trips to Antarctica, the Arctic, and alpine areas.

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