Update: 21.03.2018

In a handful of fertile soil, there are more individual organisms than the total number of human beings that have ever existed.

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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 120 (June 2015)

IUSS Bulletin 126

The new IUSS Bulletin 126 has been published. It contains reports from the Secretariat, Divisions, Commissions, Working groups and national soil science societies. Furthermore chapters dedicated to the International Year of Soils and 90 years of soil classification are included. Beside contributions to the serie of five questions to a soil scientist the collection of the last Alerts, upcoming meetings and recently published books can be found in the Bulletin.
It can be downloaded from the IUSS website


Digital Soil Morphometrics

The IUSS Working Group on Digital Soil Morphometrics held its inaugural global workshop 1-4 June 2015 in Madison, USA. The workshop focused on in situ soil property assessment, soil depth functions, mapping and imaging of the soil profile and use and application of digital soil morphometrics. The workshop was attended by 70 soil scientists from over 15 countries.
The Second Global Workshop on Digital Soil Morphometrics will be held 20-23 June 2017 at The James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland UK. For more information see http://www.digitalsoilmorphometrics.org


Watercolors Collection of Soil Profiles of Prof. Kubiëna

On the website of the Institute of Agricultural Sciences (ICA) there is a presentation which contains photographs of some of the original watercolors of soil profiles of Prof. Kubiena, as well as the full collection of their smaller reproductions. This collection has an extraordinary historical value and demonstrates the efforts made by this scientist to establish the pillars of soil micromorphology during his stay at the former Institute of Soil Science and Plant Biology, currently Institute of Agricultural Sciences. These small plates were used as illustrations in the book of Prof. Kubiëna, “The Soils of Europe”, published simultaneously in German (“Bestimmungsbuch und Systematik der Böden Europas”), and Spanish (“Claves Sistemáticas de Suelos”), a work considered during many years a master piece for the study and teaching of Pedology. Following the success of these publications, a new book was prepared, “Atlas of Soil Profiles” (also published in Spanish, “Atlas de Perfiles de Suelos”), in order the readers could keep loose the coloured plates of soil profiles.
The original watercolors from this collection were painted by Gertrud Kallab and Anton Prazak. This work also contributes to the celebrations of (CSIC) and the Spanish Soil Science Society (SECS) to commemorate “2015 International Year of Soils” (UN Resolution A/RES/68/232). Website: http://www.ica.csic.es/Kubiena2/index-en.html .
Corresponding article “Art in Science: Kubiena’s Soil Profiles in Watercolors” posted by John Freeland June 14, 2015: http://blogs.agu.org/terracentral/2015/06/14/art-in-science-kubienas-soil-profiles-in-watercolors/


Soil Atlas of Latin America and the Caribbean (English and and Portuguese version available)

On 10-11 June 2015, the EU held a high level summit with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) under the title “Shaping our common future: working for prosperous, cohesive and sustainable societies for our citizens”. On this occasion, the English and Portuguese versions of the JRC Soil Atlas of Latin America and the Caribbean were launched. This publication was offered by the Commission President to the 61 heads of delegation, including more than 40 heads of state or government from CELAC and EU Member States taking part in the summit.
The Soil Atlas of Latin American and the Caribbean is an initiative funded by the EUROCLIMA programme, which aims to promote cooperation between Latin America and the European Union (EU) in the field of climate change. The aim of the atlas is to support sustainable soil management, and to help promote an understanding of the state of and importance of soil in order to encourage its preservation . Produced by the JRC, this Atlas sets out to improve communication and raise the awareness of the general public, politicians and scientists about the importance of the soil in Latin America. English version is available (Portuguese in draft) from: http://eusoils.jrc.ec.europa.eu/library/maps/LatinAmerica_Atlas/


Cover Management (C-factor) for soil erosion modelling

The C-factor (USLE/RUSLE erosion modelling) accounts for how land cover, crops and crop man-agement cause soil loss to vary from those losses occurring in bare fallow areas. The C-factor is perhaps the most important factor with regard to policy and land use decisions, as it represents conditions that can be most easily managed to reduce erosion. The Cover Management high res-olution dataset (100 m) is based on the hybrid C-factor Land Use and Management (LANDUM) model. The LANDUM model for C-factor estimation is differentiated between a) arable lands and b) all other land uses (non-arable). In arable lands, the C-factor is estimated using crop statistics (% of arable land per crop type) and data on management practices such as reduced tillage (no till), plant residues and winter cover crops. The C-factor in non-arable lands is modelled by weighting the range of values found in literature according to fractional vegetation cover, which was estimated based on the COPERNICUS Remote Sensing dataset Fcover.
Data for C-factor and management practices are available from: http://eusoils.jrc.ec.europa.eu/library/themes/erosion/CoverManagement/


Landform classification (Data available)

The landform classification following Meybeck et al. (2001) presents relief classes, which are cal-culated based on the relief roughness. Roughness and elevation are classified based on a DEM according to static thresholds, with a given window size. The landform classification following Iwahashi and Pike (2007) present relief classes which are classified using an unsupervised nested-means algorithm and a three part geometric signature. Slope gradient, surface texture and local convexity are calculated based on the SRTM30 DEM, within a given window size.
Data are available for download: http://eusoils.jrc.ec.europa.eu/projects/landform/


Dairy Grazing Management Can Restore Soils, Reduce Carbon Footprint

Well-maintained pastures prevent erosion, protect water and, as it turns out, can restore the soil’s organic matter much more quickly than previously thought, according to a team of researchers from the University of Georgia and the University of Florida. Source: http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/05/dairy-grazing-management-can-restore-soils-reduce-carbon-footprint/


An animated introduction to soils functions and threats – © FAO

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZNanlXMXk4#t=14 , by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)


Soils and Biodiversity

Soils host a quarter of our planet’s biodiversity. Soil is one of nature’s most complex ecosystems: it contains a myriad of organisms which interact and contribute to the global cycles that make all life possible.

Related links: http://www.fao.org/soils-2015/en/ ; a pdf can be downloaded from http://www.fao.org/resources/infographics/infographics-details/en/c/285727/


Soil stories blog - call for submissions

It doesn’t matter if you’re a farmer, landholder, soil scientist, policymaker or gardener… Tell your soil story by contributing to the blog! One of the primary aims of this international year is to raise awareness about the multiple roles that soils play in all of our lives. By carrying out multiple functions, healthy soils ensure a productive food system, improved rural livelihoods and a healthy environment. You too can raise awareness and safeguard our planet’s soils by posting on the official IYS (International Year of Soils) blog.

As FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said at the launch of the IYS on 5 December 2014, “The multiple roles of soils often go unnoticed. Soils don’t have a voice, and few people speak out for them but they are our silent ally in food production.” Speak out for soils! So far the blog has been a success with a wide range of stories from an ecosystem ecologist’s search for soil microorganisms in the Arctic, to a project on waste/soils carried out by a teacher and his students in Spain and an Austrian microbiologist’s experiment and time-lapse video on building humus.

Submissions can focus on:

  • The multiple roles that soils play in the lives of people from diverse regions of the world
  • The wide variety of ecosystem services that soils provide
  • The challenges we face including soil degradation, deforestation, desertification, drought and other environmental issues
  • Successful soil conservation practices

Join the soil stories blog and help communicate the profound importance of soils for human life. http://www.fao.org/soils-2015/news/news-detail/en/c/287757/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social+media&utm_campaign=fao+facebook


Innsbruck Nature Film Festival: Movie category soils - a non-renewable livelihood!

Soil is the foundation of our lives and of all ecosystem services, although it is so far little present in public consciousness. But it is a very important part of our nature: it enables food production, serves as an important water storage and water filter, converts and dissipates organic residues and makes pollutants harmless. Remarkably there are more organisms living in soils than on its surface! Today we take soil for granted, resulting in numerous negative consequences such as soil loss and soil destruction. 350-400 km² of arable soils are lost every day worldwide. Now it is necessary to protect soils sustainably as a resource and therefore for our existence. For that reason the United Nations proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Soils. The World Soil Day (5th of December) also offers an annually opportunity to point the way for the importance of soil as a resource and to campaign for soil protection. This year the Innsbruck Nature Film Festival calls to send in films about soils. For the first time there is a separate category for films concerning soils which also has its own film award. The best film on the topic of soil will be awarded a prize worth 2.000 €.

Each film is an important contribution to raise awareness for soil. For more information see: http://www.inff.eu/competition/prizes/


Conferences, Meetings and Workshops

IUSS Commission on Paleopedology and INQUA Project RAISIN IYS 2015 Activity – Workshop “Soils and Paleosols of Brazil” Campinas, São Paulo State, Brazil, August 23-29, 2015

Organized by the IUSS Commission on Paleopedology and INQUA Project RAISIN, local organizers: Alessandro Batezelli and Francisco S. B. Ladeira. 23/8: Welcome reception/dinner, 24-25/8: Field trips to Poços de Caldas (MG), Piracicaba, and Itirapina (SP): Tropical Soils (Ferralsols, Acrisols, Plinthosols, Bauxite profiles etc.), 26/8: Workshop at University of Campinas, 27-28/8: Field Trip to Cananéia (SP) and Ilha Comprida (SP): Tropical Podzols, including a Quaternary Podzol Chronosequence, 29/8: Return to Campinas via São Paulo Airport. Registration and abstract submission open until 15 July 2015. Website: https://ppsg2011.uni-hohenheim.de/94442

Catchment Science 2015 conference, Wexford, Ireland, September 28-30, 2015.

This international conference will explore the latest developments in catchment science and their application to the environmental and economic challenges facing farmers, policy makers and regulators. Conference sessions: Detecting change and lag times – patience and policy implementation; Integrated approaches to solving catchment policy questions; Soil analysis and nutrient management – achieving environmental and agronomic goals; Farmer engagement, behavioural change and knowledge exchange; Adaptive management approaches to reducing nutrient loss risk; Disentangling the impact of multiple stressors on aquatic ecology; Soil erosion – measurement and mitigation; Economic analysis of environmentally-based regulations. For more information and full details on conference abstract submission and registration visit: http://www.teagasc.ie/agcatchments/catchmentscience2015.asp

9th International Symposium on Plant‐Soil Interactions at Low pH (PSILPH), Dubrovnik, Croatia October 18-23, 2015

Deadline for registration and submission of papers extended till June 30. More details about the symposium can be found at http://www.agroekologija.eu/9thpsilph

4th Meeting of ENSA (European Network on Soil Awareness), Milan, October 21-22, 2015.

The meeting will take place directly at the EXPO October 21, 2015. The second part of the conference will be at the JRC of the EU in Ispra close to Milan, October 22, 2015. The conference is open to both soil specialists with interest in raising awareness of soils as well as other interest groups whose role involves an understanding of specific aspects of soil, for example, planners, teachers, and local authorities. The conference offers the opportunity for exchanging ideas and experiences in raising soil awareness. Event website: http://www.bodenbuendnis.org/ensa/

VI International Conference on Environmental, Industrial and Applied Microbiology – BioMicroWorld2015, Barcelona, Spain, October 28-30, 2015.

Deadlines for abstract submission: 21 July for oral presentations and 4 August for poster/virtual presentations. Registration will be open until 10 September 2015. This new edition will provide an excellent opportunity to learn and discuss about the latest research results in the fields of industrial microbiology, biotechnology, environmental sciences, food and medical microbiology and other related fields. The proceedings of the meeting will be formally released as a book that will be titled ‘Microbes in the spotlight: recent progress in the understanding of beneficial and harmful microorganisms’. The book will be published by BrownWalker Press, which will ensure an adequate international distribution and availability.

Deadline for full paper submission: 12 November 2015. More information: http://www.biomicroworld2015.org

Celebration of International Year of Soils 2015 – Achievements and Future Challenges, IAEA/Vienna International Centre, Austria, December 7, 2015

The IUSS together with the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture is organizing this conference in Vienna to celebrate the International Year of Soils (IYS) together with the World Soil Day (WSD). Speakers from regional soil science societies (Africa, East and Southeast Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America), the IUSS Council, the chairs and vice-chairs of the IUSS Divisions, Commissions and Working Groups as well as several high level representatives from FAO, IAEA and partners (e.g. European Commission, European Environment Agency, European Geosciences Union, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies) will be invited to discuss the achievements of the IYS and the future challenges in soil science as well as opportunities for international cooperation.

7th Global Workshop on Digital Soil Mapping, Århus, Denmark, June 27 – July 1, 2016

Topics include: Data collection, acquiring new input information and auxiliary data (especially remote sensing, proximal soil sensing, digital terrain model data, citizen science etc.); data combination, Soil and environmental sampling optimization for DSM purposes, Scorpan model functions (classification and regression trees, random forests, artificial neural networks, etc.) Introducing new methods and models and modification of the older ones, Exploitation and processing of legacy data, Mapping scale issues, upscaling and downscaling, maps disaggregation; harmonization of maps of different origin, Map uncertainty assessment, Visualization of the DSM products, Applications of DSM (e.g. soil organic carbon mapping, soil degradation maps), GlobalSoilMap project.
Please visit the webpage for further info: http://digitalsoil.auinstallation35.cs.au.dk/digital-soil-mapping-workshop-2016/

Second Global Workshop on Digital Soil Morphometrics, The James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland UK, 20-23 June 2017.

For more information see http://www.digitalsoilmorphometrics.org


New publications

Soil Chemistry, 4th Edition

by Daniel G. Strawn, Hinrich L. Bohn, George A. O’Connor, June 2015, by Wiley-Blackwell. 392 pages, ISBN: 978-1-118-62923-9. Paperback €56.30, Hardcover €125.00. Soil Chemistry 4e provides comprehensive coverage of the chemical interactions among organic and inorganic solids, air, water, microorganisms, and the plant roots in soil. The fourth edition of Soil Chemistry has been revised and updated throughout and provides a basic description of important research and fundamental knowledge in the field. The text covers chemical processes that occur in soils, including: distribution and species of nutrients and contaminants in soils; aqueous chemistry of soil solutions and mineral dissolution; oxidation and reduction reactions in soils; soil mineral formation processes and properties; the formation and reactivity of soil organic matter; surface chemistry and cation, anion, and organic compound adsorption reactions; modelling soil chemical reactions; and reactions in acid and salt affected soils. Although extensively revised with updated figures and tables, the fourth edition maintains the focus on introductory soil chemistry that has distinguished earlier editions. New chapters on properties of elements relevant to soil chemistry, and a chapter with special focus on soil surface characteristics have been added. Special Topics boxes are also included in the Fourth Edition that includes examples, noteworthy topics, and case studies. End of chapter questions are included as a resource for teaching.

Determination of Metals in Natural Waters, Sediments and Soils

by T. R. Crompton, June 2015, Elsevier. 318 pages, ISBN: 978-0-12-802654-0. Hardcover €79,01. The book provides analytic labs with a comprehensive overview of the various methods available for analysis of metals and serves as a manual to determine metal concentrations in different media such as natural waters, waste waters, sediments and soils. The book begins with a discussion of sampling techniques and preservation and then covers metals in rivers, surface ground and mineral waters and metals in aqueous precipitation. It concludes with detailed information on analysis of metals in sediments. Determination of Metals in Natural Waters, Sediments and Soils provides a foundation for informed action by environmental interest groups and regulators and a starting point for further study by graduate students, professionals, and researchers


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