Update: 21.03.2018

Soil carbon is the largest terrestrial pool of carbon.

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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 119 (May 2015)

IUSS at Global Soil Week 2015

The Global Soil Week 2015 dedicated to the theme “Soil. The Substance of Transformation.” was held April 19-23, 2015 in Berlin. More than 600 participants from more than 80 countries were present. The IUSS as partner of the Global Soil Week was represented by President Rainer Horn, President Elect Rattan Lal and Honorary member Winfried Blum.

Rainer Horn was speaking on the plenary Towards an integrated perspective on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Rattan Lal gave a presentation on the interplay of soils and climate in the session 1.4 Mitigation and adaptation to climate change through sustainable land management – Global and national perspectives on challenges and opportunities.
Winfried Blum represented the IUSS as one of the hosts of the session 3.6 Soil fertility management – towards a joint paradigm.
For more details see http://globalsoilweek.org/global-soil-week/gsw-2015


FAO appoints two scientists as special ambassadors for International Year of Soils

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva has appointed two scientists to serve as Special Ambassadors for the International Year of Soils and act as champions for better management of the non-renewable resource he calls humankind’s “silent ally.” Claire Chenu, a French biodiversity expert and professor of soil sciences at Agro Paris Tech University, and Tekalign Mamo Assefa, an expert in soil management and senior government advisor in Ethiopia, will be the ambassadors.

Both have years of experience in the policy making sphere and will participate in events around the world geared at motivating relevant stakeholders to take advantage of the International Year of Soils and help increase public awareness, disseminate technical knowledge and promote effective policies.

For more details see http://www.fao.org/soils-2015/news/news-detail/en/c/286319/


OGC seeks participants for international Soil Data Interoperability Experiment

7 May 2015 – The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) has announced a Call for Participation (CFP) in the OGC Soil Interoperability Experiment (Soil IE). The OGC® is an international geospatial standards consortium of more than 500 companies, government agencies, research organizations, and universities participating in a consensus process to develop publicly available standards. OGC standards support interoperable solutions that “geo-enable” the Web, wireless and location-based services, and mainstream IT. Visit the OGC website at http://www.opengeospatial.org/contact or contact: info@opengeospatial.org

Harmonizing inconsistent data is a time-consuming process – some estimates state that 80% of a scientist’s time can be occupied getting data into a state where it can be analysed. This process must be repeated with each project. The OGC Soil Data IE aims to reverse that by allowing data integration to be automated as much as possible. To this end the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) Working Group on Soil Information Standards (WGSIS) is working to consolidate these information models and reconcile them into a single language for the exchange of globally consistent soil information.
WGSIS is not expecting participants to change their information systems; instead the goal is to develop a common soils data model which each system uses to communicate with all other soil information systems.
The WGSIS proposes validating the soils data model by running an Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) interoperability experiment. A summary of the activity plan, requirements for participation, schedule, and kick-off meeting details are available at: https://portal.opengeospatial.org/files/?artifact_id=63190&version=1 .


GSP (Global Soil Partnership) call for experts to serve on the Intergovernmental Technical Panel of Soils (ITPS)

The Global Soil Partnership (GSP) has invited all its Partners to nominate soil experts from their regions as candidates for appointment to the Intergovernmental Technical Panel of Soils. Nominations were to be sent to the GSP-Secretariat@fao.org on or before 20 May 2015. The IUSS Executive Committee (excluding the President) unanimously decided to nominate its current President Prof. Dr. Rainer Horn to serve on the ITPS.


IUSS Bulletin 126

The next Bulletin will be finally published in June 2015. We apologize for the delay and would like to thank all those who have contributed to it.


Slope Length and Steepness factor (LS-factor)

The European Soil Data Centre (ESDAC) has developed a new pan-European high-resolution soil erosion assessment to achieve a better understanding of the spatial and temporal patterns of soil erosion in Europe. The LS-calculation was performed using the original equation proposed by Desmet and Govers (1996) and implemented using the System for Automated Geoscientific Analyses (SAGA), which incorporates a multiple flow algorithm and contributes to a precise estimation of flow accumulation.

The LS-factor dataset was calculated using a high-resolution (25m) Digital Elevation Model (DEM) for the whole European Union, resulting in an improved delineation of areas at risk of soil erosion as compared to lower-resolution datasets. This combined approach of using GIS software tools with high-resolution DEMs has been successfully applied in regional assessments in the past, and is now being applied for first time at the European scale. The LS-factor dataset is in Raster format.

Users can download 2 different resolution datasets: a) 100m resolution for the whole EU and b) 25m resolution per country.


P-factor (Support practices) at European scale

The USLE/RUSLE (Universal Soil Loss Equation / Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation) support practice factor (P-factor) accounts for control practices that reduce the erosion potential of runoff by their influence on drainage patterns, runoff concentration, runoff velocity and hydraulic forces exerted by the runoff on the soil surface. The P-factor is rarely taken into account in soil erosion risk modelling at sub-continental scale, as it is difficult to estimate for large areas.

This study attempts to model the P-factor in the European Union. For this, it considers the latest policy developments in the Common Agricultural Policy, and applies the rules set by Member States for contour farming over a certain slope. The impact of stone walls and grass margins is also modelled using the more than 226,000 observations from the Land use/cover area frame statistical survey (LUCAS) carried out in 2012 in the European Union. The mean P-factor considering contour farming, stone walls and grass margins in the European Union is estimated at 0.9702 (0.95 in arable lands).
The data are available for download: http://eusoils.jrc.ec.europa.eu/library/themes/erosion/SupportPractices/


SoilTrEC book on soil for secondary school, 12 factsheets, Publications

The EC funded project SoilTrEC (Soil Transformations in European Catchments) was concluded in November 2014. Among the project outputs were: A book on soil for secondary school students, 12 factsheets on soil relevant issues and a number of important publications in peer review journals.

The target audience for the book is school children from 11-18. The soil issues presented can help both students and teachers to think in a holistic way about soil hoping that many of the students will become intrigued enough to study soil science or natural resource economics and/or policy when they go to University.


Expo 2015 & Soil

The Slow Food Theater is a place for meeting and exchange, a venue for organizing talks, debates, film and documentary screenings, theatrical or musical shows, presentations of books or production techniques and much more. The events’ themes will be connected to the content of the surrounding space: biodiversity, sustainable agriculture, responsible consumption, the fight against food waste and so on.
The theater is an open space, and entrance is free while places are available. It has a capacity of 40 seated, but can hold up to 50-60 people standing. Slow Food will use this space to give voice to its network (farmers, fishers, artisans, Terra Madre food communities, national associations, convivia, Presidia, Earth Markets and businesses operating in harmony with the Slow philosophy) plus other civil society representatives, as well as authors, film directors, photographers and artists who want to present projects in line with our interests.

Soil was an issue tackled in the context of the slow food theater at the Expo 2015 on various occasions: http://www.slowfood.com/expo2015/en/calendario-expo/the-soil-in-danger/ and http://www.slowfood.com/expo2015/en/calendario-expo/soil-to-feed-the-planet/

The German Pavillon is dedicated to Soil:Soil is the basis of our nutrition and a complex ecosystem that supplies plants with all the nutrients they require. Protecting and maintaining soil is therefore essential for food security in the future. https://expo2015-germany.de/en/exhibition/room/soil


Better save soil

There is a wealth of concrete local actions and policy initiatives out there that can inspire our thinking about the city of tomorrow, measures for sustainable agriculture and how to secure access to food for everyone. “Better Save Soil” promotes options for action.
This film by Uli Streckenbach is the continuation of the film “Let’s Talk about Soil” premiered at the first Global Soil Week.


No quick fix for China's polluted soil

Ada Kong says China’s soil pollution problem has global ramifications and needs action at a regional level rather than through an overarching national approach.


Soil data, soil information and soil maps

Many have realised that global soil information is currently inadequate for addressing the global challenges of food security, water resource protection and climate change mitigation. However, only in recent years has significant funding been invested in soils information generation across the world. Africa, in particular, is in need of information on soils to help tackle poverty and thus benefit its national economies.

In Europe the picture is varied, much existing information on soils is >30 years old and the high expense and practicalities of field surveying limit the collection of new, high-resolution soils data. With 2015 being designated the International Year of Soils, this is the time to be going all-out in raising awareness of the importance of soils information in maximising soil’s important functions.
For more information see http://www.thedirtdoctors.com/soil-data-soil-information-and-soil-maps/


"Hope in healthy soil"

In this 90 second movie you’ll learn why the solutions to many of our production and environmental challenges are closer than you might imagine – right under our feet.
See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkY2Hp-A6pM&feature=youtu.be


Conferences, Meetings and Workshops

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

Scientific assessment of land qualities, their changes and underlying landscape processes are essential to produce a comprehensive evaluation of land-based ecosystem services. Only with reliable information on land quality and its possible changes can resource efficient and sustainable land management be applied.
The LQ2015 conference aims to enhance the understanding of the role of land quality and landscape processes in rural systems and to make progress with the development of sustainable land use on different levels; from farm to continental scales. Three workshops will be held within the conference with a special focus on (i) resource use efficiency in agriculture in Europe and China and (ii) soil information in the Danube basin (iii) Supporting the Implementation of Green Infrastructure. The conference programme is available, registration is still open.
For more information see http://lq2015.georgikon.hu/

Green Week 2015 Nature – our health, our wealth, Brussels, 3-5 June, 2015

Within the context of the 2015 edition of Green Week, the biggest annual conference on European environment policy, a session on soil will be presented on the 4th of June, 16:30 -18:00 hrs, at The Egg Conference Centre, Rue Bara, in Brussels.
The session ‘Healthy soils for a wealthy Europe’ will highlight the importance of sound land and soil management in Europe.
It will address the dimension of land-take in the EU and its main consequences on the environment, also presenting possible strategies to support a zero net land-take approach.
Find more information about this event: http://www.greenweek2015.eu/programme-20150604-6-1.html

8th European Congress on Regional Geoscientific Cartography and Information Systems (EUREGEO), Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, June 15-17, 2015

It shall serve as a platform for experts from regional and national geological surveys, from universities, research institutes and from the economy, building a bridge between scientific research and practical application. This congress supports the celebration of the International Year of Soils reflecting the current importance of two major applied geoscientific issues, this 8th EUREGEO congress focusses on Geological 3D modelling and on Soil functions and threats. Registration at reduced fee until May 29th, 2015.
Congress website: http://www.igc.cat/web/ca/euregeo2015.html

Enzymes in the Environment; Activity, Ecology and Applications, Bangor, Wales, United Kingdom, July 24-28, 2016

Although enzymes are central to cellular functions, this conference focuses on the role of soil enzymes in biogeochemical and ecosystem processes, known as ecological or environmental enzymology. The four-day meeting will have the following symposia: Molecular Biology and Enzyme Expression; Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Extracellular Enzyme Activities; Aquatic Ecosystems, Applications of Industrial Environmental Enzymology; and Soil Ecology and Biochemical Cycles. Each session consists of lectures, research presentations, and posters as well as roundtable discussions on emerging methodologies with particular emphasis on molecular microbiology.
For More Information, please visit: http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/ee2016/

International University Meeting of Soil Sciences –soil functions in nature and their conservation in ecosystems (IYS activity). Cultural Academic Centre of the UNAM, Juriquilla, Querétaro, México, October 4-10, 2015

For further information check the event website: http://soil15.geociencias.unam.mx/ or contact 2015@geociencias.unam.mx

International Youth Forum on Soil and Water Conservation (IYFSWC), Nanchang, China, October 16-18, 2015

The purpose of the conference is to bring researchers, practitioners and policy makers a world-wide platform to share their research and discuss creative solutions related to soil and water conservation. IYFSWC is focusing to see the “old” soil and water conservation problems in the vision of the youth.

Under the theme ‘Youth – the Future of Soil and Water Conservation’, a number of topics shall be explored, inlcuding soil erosion processes and modelling; global changes and soil conservation practices, land degradation and food security, watershed management, sustainable development for soil and water, new technologies for monitoring and assessment of soil erosion and youth engagement/education in soil and water conservation.
Further information: http://iyfswc.nit.edu.cn/

The 9th International Symposium on Plant-Soil Interactions at Low pH, Dubrovnik, Croatia, October 18-23, 2015

Topics include: physical- chemical and biological properties of acid soils, physiological and molecular mechanisms of plant adaptation to acid soils, genetics and breeding of crops for acid soils, aluminum toxicity, P deficiency, and other acid soil limitations; amelioration and remediation, sustainable utilization and management of agricultural and natural ecosystems on acid soil, chemistry and management of acid – sulfate soils, forestry and agroforestry on acid soils, soil acidity effect on food chain (food quality, nutrition and human health).
For more information, please go to: http://www.agroekologija.eu/9thpsilph/

7th International Conference of the Africa Soil Science Society Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, October 25 to November 1st, 2015

This 7th International Conference will gather soil scientists, land planners and users as well as all related specialists to deliberate on the contribution of soil science for a sustainable development in Africa, with special attention on issues such as food insecurity, climate change, land degradation, land and water knowledge management and renewable energies. Deadline for abstract submission: June 1st, 2015.

Call for abstracts: http://start.org/announcements/call-for-abstracts-7th-international-conference-of-the-africa-soil-science-society

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.

Information at: http://www.uni-giessen.de/cms/sompatic

8th International Acid Sulfate Soil Conference, College Park, Maryland, USA, 17-23 July 2016

This conference will provide a forum for the exchange ideas regarding the origins, properties, management, classification and reclamation of acid sulfate soils. It will also include components for the education of those less familiar with acid sulfate soil issues and problems. Three days will be designated for oral and poster presentations (July 18, 19 and 21). Additionally, 2-3 field tours are planned throughout the week. Further information on this conference can be found at http://www.midatlanticsoilscientists.org/acid-sulfate-soils-conference


New publications

Soils – Genesis and Geomorphology

2nd Edition by Randall Schaetzl, Michigan State University and Michael L. Thompson, Iowa State University; Cambridge University Press; Available as ebook since March 2015. Publication planned for May 2015; ISBN: 9781107016934; hardback; In its first edition, Soils established itself as the leading textbook in the fields of pedology and soil geomorphology. Expanded and fully updated, this second edition maintains its highly organized and readable style. Suitable as a textbook and a research-grade reference, the book’s introductory chapters in soil morphology, mineralogy, chemistry, physics and organisms prepare the reader for the more advanced treatment that follows.
Unlike its competitors, this textbook devotes considerable space to discussions of soil parent materials and soil mixing, along with dating and paleoenvironmental reconstruction techniques applicable to soils. Although introductions to widely used soil classification systems are included, theory and processes of soil genesis and geomorphology form the backbone of the book. Replete with more than 550 high-quality figures and photos and a detailed glossary, this book will be invaluable for anyone studying soils, landforms and landscape change anywhere on the globe. Find out more at: http://www.cambridge.org/at/academic/subjects/earth-and-environmental-science/soil-science/soils-genesis-and-geomorphology-2nd-edition?format=HB

Soil and Water Chemistry – An Integrative Approach

Second Edition by Michael E. Essington, published April 24, 2015 by CRC Press. Textbook, 656 Pages, 373 b/w illustrations, ISBN 9781466573154. Hardback. Price: £49.99. The second edition of a bestseller, Soil and Water Chemistry: An Integrative Approach maintains the balanced perspective that made the first edition a hugely popular textbook. The second edition includes new figures and tables, new chapters, and expanded exercises in each chapter. It covers topics including soil chemical environment, soil minerals, soil organic matter, cation exchange, oxidation-reduction, mineral weathering and solubility, surface chemistry and adsorption reactions, acidity and salinity in soil materials, and chemical thermodynamics applied to soil systems.

Soil Physics with Python – Transport in the Soil-Plant-Atmosphere System

by Marco Bittelli, Gaylon S. Campbell and Fausto Tomei, published May 14, 2015 by Oxford University Press. 464 pages, 57 figures and/or tables, 246×171mm; ISBN: 978-0-19-968309-3; Hardback. Price: £55.00, also available as eBook. This innovative study presents concepts and problems in soil physics, and provides solutions using original computer programs. It provides a close examination of physical environments of soil, including an analysis of the movement of heat, water and gases. The authors employ the programming language Python, which is now widely used for numerical problem solving in the sciences. In contrast to the majority of the literature on soil physics, this text focuses on solving, not deriving, differential equations for transport. Using numerical procedures to solve differential equations allows the solution of quite difficult problems with fairly simple mathematical tools. Numerical methods convert differential into algebraic equations, which can be solved using conventional methods of linear algebra. Each chapter introduces a soil physics concept, and proceeds to develop computer programs to solve the equations and illustrate the points made in the discussion.
More see http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199683093.do

The Soils of Taiwan

by Chen, Zueng-Sang, Hseu, Zeng-Yei, Tsai, Chen-Chi. World Soils Book Series, 2015. 127 p. 78 illus., 68 illus. in color, ISBN 978-94-017-9726-9. Price (hardcover) 87,99 Euro. This book presents a comprehensive and up-to-date overview on soils of Taiwan. It includes sections on soil research history, climate, geology, geomorphology, major soil types, soil maps, soil properties, soil classification, soil fertility, land use and vegetation, soil management, soils and humans, soils and industry, future soil issues. The book summarizes what is known about the soils in Taiwan in a concise and highly reader-friendly way.


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