Update: 21.03.2018

Five tonnes of animal life can live in one hectare of soil.

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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 125 (November 2015)

Request for contributions to the IYS section on the IUSS website

The IUSS Secretariat kindly repeats its invitation to all national soil science societies to provide information on final IYS activities for the IUSS website.
Read contributions submitted so far


IUSS Commission 1.1 Soil Morphology and Micromorphology – October Newsletter published

In this newsletter you will find among forthcoming meetings and congresses comprehensive information about the Soil Micromorphology Meeting to be held in Mexico at the end of 2016. Beside research notes and publications as well as forthcoming and past courses attention should be paid to the scanned collections of thin sections of WL Kubiëna and J Benayas as well as to the contribution of “El Canonge de la Seu” to “The Last Page”. He is the alter ego of a well-known soil scientist and SOM specialist that has agreed to share with us his unique and wonderful drawings.
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EGU Meetings Support for 2016 (2nd call) - Deadline 31 December 2015

The European Geosciences Union (EGU) welcomes proposals for Topical Meetings, Training Schools and Workshops, as well as applications for EGU Sponsorship of External Meetings, for the year 2016. Successful proposals result in high profile EGU events with financial support. Proposals for events in 2016 must be submitted by 31 December 2015 only via the on-line form on the EGU Website.

More information about the aims, format and mechanisms of the EGU Topical Events Programme together with application guidelines can be found at the event website.
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New FAO infographic

Climate change represents a major threat to global food security. The agricultural sectors are particularly exposed to the impacts of climate change and climate variability; therefore soils are essential in the debate on how we tackle climate change. Healthy soils can play an important role in climate change mitigation by storing carbon (carbon sequestration) and decreasing global greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. At the same time, agriculture contributes significantly to climate change through greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). If soils are managed poorly or cultivated through unsustainable agricultural practices, soil carbon can be released into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide which can contribute to climate change. As crop production has intensified, our soils have suffered the consequences. The steady conversion of grassland and forestland to cropland and grazing land has resulted in historic losses of soil carbon worldwide. In fact, land-use conversions and drainage of organic soils for cultivation are responsible for about 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
Read more on FAO website
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Regenerative organic agriculture puts soil health front and center

On Oct. 21, 2002, a New York Times editorial proclaimed: “Today marks a milestone in American farming.” The newspaper lauded the long-awaited implementation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program (NOP), which defined the word organic and established—for the first time—who could and could not use it legally. The real value of the program, the Times argued, was not in any added health benefit of organic food itself (that had yet to be scientifically validated), but rather in its emphasis on soil preservation. “In an organic system … the soil grows richer and richer, more and more fertile. It does not blow or wash away,” the editorial explained. “Buying organic food is a way to support the health of the soil itself. For that alone, it deserves our support.”
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A unified initiative to harness Earth's microbiomes

Despite their centrality to life on Earth, we know little about how microbes interact with each other, their hosts, or their environment. Although DNA sequencing technologies have enabled a new view of the ubiquity and diversity of microorganisms, this has mainly yielded snapshots that shed limited light on microbial functions or community dynamics. Given that nearly every habitat and organism hosts a diverse constellation of microorganisms—its “microbiome”—such knowledge could transform our understanding of the world and launch innovations in agriculture, energy, health, the environment, and more.

We propose an interdisciplinary Unified Microbiome Initiative (UMI) to discover and advance tools to understand and harness the capabilities of Earth’s microbial ecosystems. The impacts of oceans and soil microbes on atmospheric CO2 are critical for understanding climate change. By manipulating interactions at the root-soil-microbe interface, we may reduce agricultural pesticide, fertilizer, and water use, enrich marginal land and rehabilitate degraded soils. Microbes can degrade plant cell walls (for biofuels), and synthesize myriad small molecules for new bioproducts, including antibiotics. Restoring normal human microbial ecosystems can save lives [e.g. fecal microbiome transplantation for Clostridium difficile infections]. Rational management of microbial communities in and around us has implications for asthma, diabetes, obesity, infectious diseases, psychiatric illnesses, and other afflictions. The human microbiome is a target and a source for new drugs and an essential tool for precision medicine.
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Permafrost: The Tipping Time Bomb

One of the most feared of climate change “feedbacks” is the potential release of greenhouse gases by melting arctic permafrost soils. New research indicates a critical threshold of that feedback effect could be closer than we once thought.
Watch utube video


New film about soil

Soils help moderate global temperatures, store carbon, and can preserve records of past climates. Soil is a precious natural resource that has significant interactions with Earth’s climate system, but it can’t do its job if we keep disturbing it. When soils are allowed to interact with the plants and water systems they were meant to support, soils support life.
Watch utube video


Erosion in forestland

This study provides first a pan-European analysis that delineates the spatial patterns of forest cover changes in Europe, and then makes a dynamic assessment of the soil loss potential in the EU-28 forests. A recently published High-resolution Global Forest Cover Loss map (2000–2012) was reprocessed and validated. Results show that the map is a powerful tool to spatiotemporally indicate the forest sectors that are exposed to cover change risks. An accuracy assessment is performed by using a confusion matrix based on 2300 reference forest disturbances distributed across Europe resulting in values of 55.1% producer accuracy.
The derived maps provide spatially explicit indicators to assess the human-induced impacts of land cover changes and soil losses on the European soil-related forest ecosystems. The following datasets are available: Soil loss potential (by water erosion), Forest Cover Change (ha) and Forest Fires (ha).
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Common Agricultural Policy: Tackling soil loss across Europe (in NATURE)

Recent developments on soil erosion modelling at JRC have been published in a NATURE correspondence. The article indicates how the soil erosion continues to outstrip soil formation across the European Union. The European Union Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is narrowing this gap. The intervention measures through CAP have reduced the rates of soil loss by water erosion in the European Union during the last decade, especially in the arable lands. The article has been published in collaboration with NERC, Centre of Ecology (UK).
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16 Vacancies (related to Environment/Soil) have been published in the European Soil Data Centre.
Read more at JRC Website
See vacancies at the IUSS Website


"1ha 43a" by Monica Pirch - Best soil-related film at the Innsbruck Nature Film Festival 2015

At the Innsbruck Nature Film Festival 2015 the best soil-related film was awarded a special price of € 2000.-. The film selected by the jury was 1ha 43a, by Monica Pirch, Germany.
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pdf download


Conferences, Meetings and Workshops

EGU General Assembly 2016 (EGU2016) – Call for Abstracts

The start of the abstract submission for the EGU General Assembly 2016 (EGU2016), 17–22 Apr 2016, Vienna, Austria was announced recently.
You are cordially invited to browse through the sessions.
See details

Detailed information on how to submit an abstract can be found at the website.
See details

Deadline for the receipt of abstracts is 13 Jan 2016, 13:00 CET. In case you would like to apply for support, please submit no later than 01 Dec 2015.

Further information about the EGU General Assembly 2016 can be found at the event website.
EGU 2016 website

1st International Conference on Advances in Soil Science

Alexandria, Egypt, May 2–5, 2016.
The conference will focus on multidisciplinary approach to soil science, with special interest on soil functions and limitations under various land-use systems and climatic conditions, remote sensing applications in soil sciences, precision farming, soil carbon and organic matter, soil and water use management, latest and technological developments for soil use and management; Soil genesis and classification, soil fertility and plant nutrition, land degradation and environmental hazards, soil biodiversity, advances in soil micromorphology.
Read more

International Summer School: Advanced methods and new integrated approaches to study soil processes in mountain ecosystems

The Italian Soil Science Society (Division 2) and SENSFOR COST Action ES1203 are organizing an International Summer School as a training activity for PhD students. It will be hosted in the Alpine Study Centre of Pieve Tesino TN (Italy), June 26-30th, 2016

The general subject of the School is: “Advanced methods and new integrated approaches to study soil processes in mountain ecosystems”. The objective is to provide a general overview of soil forming factors in forest ecosystem and to promote exchange and discussion about advances in soil processes knowledge. The Summer school is open to 30 PhD students and young soil scientists. It will consist of invited lectures, scientific session with oral presentation and field excursion.
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8th International Acid Sulfate Soils Conference

College Park, Maryland, USA 2016.
Conference July 17 – 23, 2016, Excursions July 17 and 22-23, 2016.
2nd Circular and Call for Abstracts.
Theme: Acid Sulfate Soils: Pathways to Exposure and Remediation.
Abstract Submission opens September 30, 2015
Conference Registration opens Feb 1, 2016
Abstract Submission and Early Registration closes May 1, 2016
Online Pre-registration closes July 10, 2016
Read more
Download 2nd circular

Enzymes in the Environment: Activity, Ecology and Applications – 2nd announcement, Call for abstracts

Bangor, Wales, United Kingdom, July 24-28, 2016
IUSS members will be well represented at this meeting. Speakers who are acknowledged leaders in soil and aquatic microbiology include Anna M. Romaní, Paolo Nannipieri, Ellen Kandeler, Richard Burns, Petr Baldrian, Katherne Riedel, Peter N Golyshin, E. Blagodatskaya, Carmen Trasar Cepeda, David Hopkins, Shiping Deng, Chris Freeman and Carol Arnosti.
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:

  • Hot Spots – Hot Moments of Enzyme Activities in the Environment
  • Methods I: Beyond Genomics
  • Extracellular Enzyme Expression
  • Methods II: Roundtable Position Presentations: Omics and Functional Expression of Extracellular Enzymes
  • Extracellular Enzymes in Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecosystems under a Changing Climate
  • Aquatic Enzymology
  • Functional Diversity and Ecosensors
  • Bioinformatics: Bioprospecting Genetic Expression of Extracellular Enzymes
  • Industrial and Environmental Applications
  • Bioremediation Driven by Extracellular Enzymes

Abstracts to be considered for Oral Presentations are due 15 February, 2016 and for Posters, the due date is April 15, 2016.
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EUROSOIL 2016 – Abstract submission deadline extended to 15 December 2015

Istanbul, Turkey, July 17-22, 2016
The EUROSOIL 2016 Conference will be a unique opportunity to all participants (including young soil scientists, researchers, technical and Professional operators, company representatives and policy makers) to share their projects, scientific experiences, innovations and ideas about soil science. Deadline for Submission of abstracts was 15 November 2015.
The Conference organisers are open to receive suggestions about timely topics in soil science that could be included in the scientific programme.
The registration system is available as of mid November 2015.
Read more


15th International Conference on Soil Micromorphology

1st announcement: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Colegio de Postgraduados, Mexico city, November 27 – December 5, 2016, with mid-and post-conference field trips
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New publications

Soils of Georgia

By Tengiz F. Urushadze and Winfried E.H. Blum; published in the Series “Air, Water and Soil Pollution Science and Technology” by Nova Science Publishers, Inc. New York, 2014. ISBN: 978-1-63177-475-9. Price 170 US$.
The book has 242 pages, with numerous coloured maps and soil pictures and contains after a general introduction and presentation of the authors 6 main chapters:
1) Physiography and Factors of Soil Formation
2) The Soils of Georgia
3) Ecological conditions
4) Soil Use
5) References
6) Soil photos

A comprehensive Index at the end facilitates the general understanding and the geographical localisation of the soils within Georgia.

Soil hydrological impacts and climatic controls of land use and land cover changes in the Upper Blue Nile (Abay) basin

By Ermias Teferi Demessie, October, 29, 2015 – CRC Press, UNESCO-IHE PhD Thesis Series, 264 pages, ISBN: 9781138028746. Price Paperback 89,95 US$.
This thesis investigates LULCC and its links with soil hydrology, soil degradation and climate variability through combining results from fieldwork, laboratory work and Remote Sensing. Seasonal, inter-annual and broad timescale land transitions are analyzed for a robust identification of biophysical change. The determinants of LULCC are determined using spatially explicit statistical modelling of most systematic land transitions. This thesis explores soil hydrological impacts of LULCC for a better soil water management. The thesis further explores the climatic factors leading to the observed trends in vegetated land cover for improved understanding of the link between climate and carbon fixation and water use by vegetation.

Task Force: Soil Matters – Solutions under foot

Edited by Stephen Nortcliff on behalf of the International Union of Soil Sciences, Nov. 2015, Catena Verlag, GeoEcology Essays. 160 pages, numerous figures, photos, tables. ISBN 978-3-923381-63-0. Price Paperback 14,90 EUR.
Contact for order

This collection of papers seeks to illustrate the diversity of the soils and soil functions and shows the importance of soils for all aspects of our lives. The eight sections of the book deal with soil threats, soil carbon, biodiversity, land use and the environment as well as society. Soil value and ecosystem services as well as the international year of soils are specific topics of this book.


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