Update: 21.03.2018

It can take more than 1000 years to form a centimeter of topsoil.

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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 121 (July 2015)

Rainer Horn, IUSS President, selected to be a member of the Intergovernmental Technical Panel of Soils (ITPS)

The Global Soil Partnership (GSP) had invited all its partners to nominate soil experts from their regions as candidates for appointment to the Intergovernmental Technical Panel of Soils. The IUSS Secretariat is happy to announce that IUSS President Prof. Dr. Rainer Horn was accepted as German expert to represent Europe on the Intergovernmental Technical Panel of Soils for two years.


Call for further contributions to IYS section on IUSS website

As you may have noticed the new IUSS website has a subpage presenting the activities of national soil science societies in the IYS 2015. We would like to thank those who have already responded and kindly remind all other national soil science societies to send us their contributions. 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)


Latest Division 4 Newsletter published

Welcome to SOIL CONNECTS – 2. It is a pleasure to release the second edition of the newsletter covering the stories, issues, events from the members of Division 4. This newsletter will contribute to a suite of newsletters already produced within the IUSS and will give its members the opportunity to share their knowledge of soil with other members and the broader community.
Now the International Year of Soil (IYS) 2015 is well underway there have been a myriad of activities happening to celebrate and share peoples involvement with soil. Some of these are shared in this edition with more to come later in the year. By Damien Field (editor).


Pedometron - Newsletter of the Pedometrics Commission

The latest issue of Pedometron is now available at: http://www.pedometrics.org/Pedometron/Pedometron37.pdf; It contains interesting articles on the use of infrared spectra for quantifying soil mineral abundances, Sampling strategy, Accuracy of soil map, the use of High Performance Computing in DSM and more. Other newsletters can be found also on the IUSS website: http://www.iuss.org/index.php?article_id=421.


A tale of 2 (soil) cities

Recent work showed that long-term differences in soil use and management influence not only the sizes and numbers of soil aggregates, but also what the pores inside them will look like. Soil is a living, dynamic substance, and the microbial life within it is crucial to providing plant life with the food they need to grow. The microbes can be bacteria or fungi, but both need space—the pores—for a good living environment. Soil particles that clump together are aggregates. These are the architectural building blocks of soil. Their presence has a major effect on the behavior of the soil as a community. Read more at https://www.soils.org/discover-soils/story/tale-two-soil-cities


Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas – Call for Photos

Editing of the Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas is in full swing! Please send your photos of bacteria to be included in the Atlas. The Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative are looking for photos of Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, Actinobacteria and Cyanobacteria, but other great photos of soil bacteria will also be considered. Please send photos to alberto.orgiazzi@jrc.ec.europa.eu before July 31, 2015.


Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative (GSBI) Blog – Request for Input

The International Year of Soils 2015 is at its halfway point and all around the world scientists, producers, and educators are using this recognition to bring awareness to the urgent need of sustainable soil management. The GSBI is asking for your help in fulfilling our responsibility as researchers to communicate the importance of soil biodiversity to a wider audience. Our “Beneath Our Feet” blog has served as a place for researchers to post about research, inform the community on global soil legislation, and release announcements from their professional organizations. Please submit blog posts or ideas to info@soilbiodiversity.org. Submissions can be samples of text, video, audio, photography, animations, or any form to communicate awareness of soil biodiversity.


Global soil week minutes

This year, the Global Soil Week highlighted how sustainable soil management and responsible land governance is key to the post-2015 development agenda and the on-going negotiations of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The first day of the Global Soil Week 2015 is dedicated to the link between soils and land and the goals and targets of the new sustainable development agenda.

On the second day we start addressing questions of implementation, monitoring and accountability of the post-2015 development agenda and the SDGs. While the SDGs have been developed largely in isolation from each other, the third day explores an integrated approach to the SDGs. Read more at: http://globalsoilweek.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/IISD_GSW15_sum.pdf


Peak fragility: conserving mountain soils an urgent matter

Mountain soils are the fragile foundations of ecosystems that ultimately provide water for more than half the world’s population. A new FAO book offers technical insights on the sustainable management of mountain soils, which are home to a vast array of human activities ranging from quinoa cultivation in the Andes through European ski resorts to the collection of medicinal plants in Tajikistan’s “roof of the world” Pamir range.
Read more at http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/294317/icode/


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. Read more at: http://www.fao.org/resources/infographics/infographics-details/en/c/285727/


Soil Functions

Soils deliver ecosystem services that enable life on Earth.
Read more at: http://www.fao.org/resources/infographics/infographics-details/en/c/284478/


Soil related films

Soils: Our ally against climate change
A look at how our Soils help combat climate change in their role of sequestering CO2, and how our collective habits can damage this benefit with potentially devastating consequences. Soon available in Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish.
See more at: http://www.fao.org/globalsoilpartnership/information-resources/videos-and-animations/soils-our-ally-against-climate-change/en/

The Living Kingdoms Beneath Our Feet (contribution to a series of soil related films for the month July)
Soil is a living, dynamic resource at the surface of the earth. It is a complex habitat of mineral and organic particles; living organisms including plant roots, microbes, and larger animals; and pores filled with air or water. In a thimble full of soil—about a gram in weight—you can expect to find 100 million to 1 billion bacteria! This video explores the living kingdoms beneath our feet and helps illustrate the fact that soils support more life beneath their surface than what exists above the surface What is a living soil? It’s where the plant and the soil are one.
See more at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQMlAX6yTd8&index=8&list=PL4J8PxoprpGZ3gPDXRfa_DNBYXoF-ruG2


Soil Quiz

What’s Your Soil IQ? Got the dirt on soil? Let’s see what you’ve got. https://www.playbuzz.com/ifdcvs10/whats-your-soil-iq


Below Our Feet, a World of Hidden Life

The soil teems with billions of hidden microbes. Researchers have begun to catalogue how these organisms are changing the world.
Read more at: https://www.quantamagazine.org/20150616-soil-microbes-bacteria-climate-change/


Conferences, Meetings and Workshops

XXXV Brazilian Congress of Soil Science, Natal City, RN, Brazil, August 2-7, 2015;

One of the main activities of the Brazilian Soil Science Society to celebrate the International Year of Soils; More information can be found at: http://www.eventosolos.org.br/cbcs2015;

Annual conference of the EU Joint Research Centre on “Building a Resilient Europe in a Globalised World”, Brussels, September 30, 2015.

Professor Gordon McBean, President of ICSU, will be a speaker. Resilience determines capacity to successfully confront societal challenges and to adapt and overcome adversity. In an evolving global environment, resilience creates stability, which in turn promotes job creation, economic growth and environmental sustainability. The thematic sessions will address: Resilient supplies: energy, food and water security; resilience to disasters; Resilient Europe – Tackling the financial crisis.

9th Congress of the Soil Science Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mostar, November 23-25 2015.

Congress theme: Protection of Soil as a Factor of Sustainable Development of Rural Areas and Improvement of Environment. Workshop themes and additional information is available on the website: http://www.udruzenje-pedologa.ba/english.html

12th International Conference of the Egyptian Soil Science Society (ESSS) – Development of Water and Soil Resources: Challenges and Solutions; Ismailia, Egypt, March 7-9, 2016;

2nd announcement. Conference topics: Soil security and global soil crisis; Global Climate Changes and Natural Resources; Emerging issues in soil and water management; Science and Technology in Environmental Resource Management; Sustainable Agriculture; Global Environmental Changes and Human Health. Abstract deadline February 18, 2016.
Please send abstracts to Prof. Elsayed Gaber gabersalex@yahoo.com .

British Society of Soil Science Annual Meeting, London, November 26, 2015.

There is much to celebrate for Soil Science in the UK. New opportunities are underway such as the Centre for Doctoral Training, the Global Food Security ‘Soil and Rhizosphere Interactions for Sustainable Agri-ecosystems’ (SARISA) programme and the Soil Security Programme which will help us to grow multidisciplinary research that will lead to improved sustainability, productivity and management of the environment. With new technologies and increasing collaborations across disciplines, soil science is at the dawn of a new era. Confirmed speakers include Professor Rainer Horn, Professor Chris Collins and Professor Richard Bardgett. Abstract submissions are being accepted until 3rd August 2015 and booking is now open http://www.soils.org.uk/event/520

Meeting of the IUSS Commission Soil Classification; provisional dates: 5-12 November 2016, Bloemfontein, South Africa.

There is a four day pre-congress tour (probably Johannesburg-Lichtenburg-Potchefstroom-Marquart-Bloemfontein) and a three day congress. Main organizer is Cornie van Huyssteen. Details will be announced later.


New publications

Understanding Mountain Soils

This publication offers technical insight on the sustainable management of mountain soils and was launched June 22,2015 during the Global Soil Partnership Plenary Assembly in Rome at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The book is a contribution to the International Year of Soils 2015, and has been jointly issued by the FAO, the Mountain Partnership Secretariat, the Global Soil Partnership and the University of Turin. The book describes the main features of mountain soil systems, their environmental, economic and social values, the threats they are facing and their cultural heritage. Case studies provided by Mountain Partnership members include how shade-grown coffee in Panama improves soil conservation, nuclear techniques that tackle soil erosion in Viet Nam and indigenous approaches in Garhwall, India, that benefit biodiversity and soil quality. The book recommends a “landscape approach” for the provision of ecosystem services, promoting mechanisms that compensate mountain communities for the carbon sequestration, biodiversity conservation, erosion control and protection of water sources that their sustainable soil-management systems produce. It also recommends the adoption of appropriate policy measures for people working and living in mountain areas, including indigenous communities and rural women. Please follow this link to download the publication: http://www.mountainpartnership.org/news/news-detail/en/c/295710/.

Soil-Specific Farming: Precision Agriculture

by Rattan Lal, B.A. Stewart, July 17, 2015 by CRC Press, Series: Advances in Soil Science. 431 Pages – 119 B/W Illustrations, ISBN 9781482245349 – CAT# KE26526, Price (hardback): BP 75,65. Faced with challenges of resource scarcity and environmental degradation, it is important to adopt innovative farming systems that maximize resource efficiency while protecting the environment. This volume focuses on principles and applications of soil-specific farming, providing information on rapidly evolving agricultural technologies. The book specifically addresses assessments of soil variability and application of modern innovations to enhance use efficiency of fertilizers, irrigation, tillage and pesticides through targeted management of soils and crops. Support tools are utilized to target site-specific constraints.

Innovative Strategies and Policies for Soil Conservation

by Michael A. Fullen, Joseph Famodimu, Theodore Karyotis, Christos Noulas, Andreas Panagopoulos, José L. Rubio & Donald Gabriels (Editors) by CATENA Verlag GmbH – Geoscience Publisher; publication planned July 2015. Advances in GeoEcology 44; about 300 pages, numerous figures and tables; ISBN 978-3-923381-62-3, US ISBN 1-59326-266-3, list price: EUR 149,00; standing order rate Advances in GeoEcology: 30% off. This book, a special issue of Advances in Geoecology, contains several peer reviewed paper presented at the 6th International congress of the European Society for Soil Conservation (ESSC). Many of them are interconnected with the “Innovative Strategies and Policies for Soil Conservation” in Europe and offer reflections and recommendations on soil issues that need to be addressed considering that Soil Science nowadays has a crucial role to play in achieving sustainable systems of use and management of the landscape that meet the needs of an increasingly global and technological society.


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