Update: 21.03.2018

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 130 (April 2016)

The International Decade of Soils (2015-2024)

As the International Year of Soils (IYS 2015) has come to an end, the IUSS would like to acknowledge the many achievements and the large number of successful events, large and small, that were held during the year and to congratulate all of those who organised and participated in these activities. Many of these events were held under the auspices of IUSS and almost all involved its National and individual Members.

In the ‘Vienna Soil Declaration’ of Dec. 7, 2015, the IUSS has identified the key roles played by soils in addressing the major resource, environmental, health and social problems which humanity is currently facing. Given this situation, the IUSS believes that it is incumbent on IUSS members to not only maintain the level of activity generated in IYS 2015 but to increase the momentum and the extent of our contributions on these issues as we move towards the Centenary of the IUSS formation in 2024.

The Executive Committee and the Council of the IUSS will play a pivotal role in setting overall objectives and directions during this period. However, it is essential that all Divisions, Commissions, Working Groups, National, Regional and individual Members but also experts of related fields of expertise accept the challenge to undertake activities to ensure that the significance of soils in maintaining healthy life and environment remain continually at the forefront of political and scientific planning and decision making.

The International Decade of Soils shall thus be a continuation of the efforts made during the International Year of the Soils 2015. It will be marked by a number of activities on the national and international levels.

IUSS plans to play a key role in education, dissemination of information, issuing informative press statement on key issues, co-ordinating activities across the world through our National Members (e.g. World Soils Day) and maintaining a historical record and collecting personal biographies. Furthermore, a public outreach campaign is envisaged to show the emotional and cultural relevance of soils as well as forging partnerships with other international organisations who could help propagate IDS messages and support us in our endeavours.

As a first step, a logo was designed. Secondly, the Vienna Soil Declaration was translated into Spanish and Portuguese. And upon the initiative of the Latin American Society for Soil Science (SLCS) the first outreach campaign via social media was launched (for further details, please see below).

Internation Decade of Soils – Website
Vienna Soil Declaration


Call - ¡Thus are Soils of my Nation®!

Based on the FAO Global Soil Partnership and the International Decade of Soils, the program “Thus are Soils of my Nation” – an educational project of the Latin-American Soil Science Society and the Latin-American network for soil science teaching & learning – would like to invite the global soil community and the general public to participate in an awareness campaign about the value of the soil for life.
The goal is to create a “Soil’s Friends Virtual Network”, in which all people who are interested globally collaborate on diverse levels to educate and generate public awareness of the need to preserve the soil as an essential part of the environmental balance.
The campaign will be kicked off on Twitter using the hashtag #ElSueloEsVida
Read more


Final request for contributions to the next IUSS Bulletin 128

This is a gentle, but urgent reminder that the IUSS Secretariat (iuss@umweltbundesamt.at) is still looking for contributions for the next IUSS Bulletin 128. Since its publication is planned for June, only contributions received before 15 May 2016 can be included. In particular, the Secretariat would welcome conference/meeting reports including IYS celebrations and first activities dedicated to the International Decade of Soils (2015-2024), answers to the “Five Questions to a Soil Scientist”, your three favourite soil science books and any other information you would like to share with the international soil science community. Please make sure to send high-resolution photos only.
For ideas and inspiration please take a look at:
Five Questions to a Soil Scientist
Three favourite soil science books


Call for nominations for IUSS Honorary Members - Reminder

In the beginning of March all presidents of IUSS National Soil Science Societies were invited to put forward their country’s nominations for Honorary Members to the IUSS. In line with the IUSS Byelaws, nominations must be submitted to the IUSS Secretariat (Email) by 19 May 2016 at the very latest. According to the IUSS Statutes Honorary Members will be elected by the Council, and shall be living at the time of election. They must be scientists of great distinction in Soil Science and have made substantial contributions to ISSS/IUSS. The number of Honorary Members that can be elected every four years at the InterCongress meeting will be determined by the merit of the candidates but shall not exceed 15. The next InterCongress Meeting will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, November 20-25, 2016.


IUSS Presidential elections 2016 - Reminder

The election of the next President of the IUSS is due this year.
The appointment of the President represents a total of six years commitment to the Union by serving two years each as President-Elect (2017/18), President (2019/20) and Past-President (2021/22).
The call for nominations was published in a separate Alert on 16 March 2016. Full documentation is available on the IUSS website. Full Nomination documentation should be submitted electronically to Roger Swift (Email) by 31st May, 2016. A copy should also be sent to IUSS Secretary (Email).
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IPBES call for nomination of experts for global assessment and sustainable use of biodiversity

IPBES calls to nominate experts to participate in the Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and the scoping of the thematic assessment of the Sustainable Use of Biodiversity.

Should you wish ICSU to support your or your candidate’s nomination, please fill in the application form (see link below) and in the section “B. Details of Government/Organisation supporting your nomination” indicate the International Council for Science as the nominating organization, Anne-Sophie STEVANCE, Science Officer, as the ICSU contact person, ICSU will then receive the application form for approval.
In addition, IPBES is seeking nominations to the IPBES Fellowship Pilot Programme, to participate in the Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. The IPBES Fellowship Pilot Programme targets early career experts who wish to gain experience by participating in the work of IPBES. More information on the IPBES Fellowship Pilot Programme and nomination process can be found on the IPBES website. The deadline for nominations is 5 May 2016.

Call for Expert Participation
Application form
Contact Anne-Sophie STEVANCE


Call for Innovations for the SDGs

The first annual Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the SDGs (STI Forum) will be held at the United Nations in New York, on June 6 and 7, 2016. Among other things, the STI Forum will aim to feature innovations and solutions for the sustainable development goals. In this context, the Inter-agency Task Team on STI for the SDGs (IATT) and the 10-Member Group to support the TFM are supporting a Call for Action for the sharing of Innovations for the SDGs via webiste. Please submit contributions by 30 April 2016.
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Grass-clover effective in removing soil phosphorus

When combined with regular mowing and removing the cuttings, growing grass-clover on phosphorus-rich soils is an effective technique for reducing soil phosphorus levels and accelerating the development of species-rich grassland. This is the conclusion of a recent article published in the March–April 2016 issue of the Journal of Environmental Quality. Based on long-term field studies in the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant, there are also strong indications that this method minimizes the amount of phosphorus leaching to surface water and groundwater. Phosphorus pollution is a major problem in the Netherlands, leading to reduced plant diversity and surface water algal blooms.
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Seven projects protecting soils around the world

The International Year of Soils came to a close on December 4, but that won’t be the end of the work for many soil projects. According to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, “soils are the foundation of food systems” and “are critical to achieving food security and nutrition.” Without governance and investment in measures to promote sustainable soil practices, further soil degradation could have enormous implications. Thankfully, farmers and scientists are finding ways to improve soils and increase food security. Here are seven influential projects and programs helping to restore the world’s soil.
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Scientists just grew vegetables in ‘Martian’ soil — but there’s a catch

In “The Martian,” astronaut and botanist Mark Watney has to figure out how to make potatoes grow in the arid, alien soil of Mars. Real-life scientists are trying to do the same thing on Earth — even though no earthling has ever had access to Martian dirt. Scientists from the Dutch Wageningen University and Research Center say they have had surprising success with crops grown in a simulated Martian soil created by NASA. They’ve managed to make 10 species including peas and tomatoes yield produce by mixing in organic matter from Earth into the soil. This made it hold water better (the “moon” soil in particular is very hydrophobic) and provided nutrients for the growing plants.
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Carbon farming is a zero-risk strategy for curbing climate change

Now that 195 nations, including the U.S., have agreed to ambitious greenhouse gas emission reductions to slow the pace of climate change, the question everyone is asking is: How will we actually meet our targets set for 2035? There is one way that is zero-risk and builds on something farmers around the world are already motivated to do: manage soils so that a maximum amount of the carbon dioxide plants pull out of the air via photosynthesis remains on the farm as carbon-rich soil organic matter. “Carbon farming,” as it is sometimes called, is Mother Nature’s own geoengineering, relying on fundamental biological processes to capture carbon and sequester it in the soil, carbon that would otherwise be in the air as the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide.
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Monthly rainfall erosivity (R-factor) & conversion factors for different time resolutions

As a follow up and an advancement of the recently published Rainfall Erosivity Database at European Scale (REDES) and the respective mean annual R-factor map, the monthly aspect of rainfall erosivity has been added to REDES. The different time resolutions (from 5 to 60 min) of high temporal data require a conversion of monthly R-factor based on a pool of stations with available data at all time resolutions. Calibration factors for transferring the R-factor values between different time resolutions on a monthly scale have been produced and allow normalizing the monthly R-factor values to a common 30-min resolution. Seasonal patterns of rainfall erosivity in different regions of Europe are also shown.
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Tea Bag Index

The Tea Bag Index (TBI) has the objective to create a global soil map of tea bag decomposition. The Tea bag index measures decay of plant material by using two types of tea bags (green and rooibos). Tea bags are placed in the soil and weight loss is determined after three months. As the tea types are composed of different material, their decomposition is indicative for a two phased decomposition model, with a fast initial phase and a slower second phase when weight loss levels off. If you are interested to join this experiment, and agree with the terms and conditions, you can apply till 1 February 2017.
Read more
Download the TBI call


Hidden Treasures

Plant roots are vital components of the earth’s ecosystem. They are necessary for all plant growth, including the production of food and nutrients for humans and many other organisms. However, as root systems are out of sight, their beauty and importance often go unnoticed. Exposed: The Secret Life of Roots showcases the presence and importance of roots through visually stunning root representations using the work of agricultural ecologist Dr. Jerry Glover, sculptor Steve Tobin, and photographer Jim Richardson.
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Peat mapping prize in Indonesia

Last year, fires burned 2 million hectares of peatlands in Indonesia. The country wants to restore them. But first, it needs to know the extent and depth of its peatlands. The Indonesian government is now offering a million dollar prize for whoever can provide the best mapping solution.
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South Australia bushfires: Farmers fight to save topsoil after devastating 85,000-hectare blaze

A huge expanse of normally productive farming land in South Australia’s mid north now looks more like a desert after a bushfire tore through 85,000 hectares last November, killing two people.
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Remediating brine-contaminated soils from the surface

In the oil and gas industry, drilling and fracturing operations produce saline-sodic wastewaters (i.e., brines) as a by-product. These brines commonly contain salts at concentrations similar to or well above that found in seawater. When a brine is released into the environment, soil remediation is necessary, and most methods involve either leaching the salts below the root zone, a time-consuming process, or the complete excavation of the contaminated soil.
Dendrite formation following the infiltration of the crystallization-inhibitor ferric hexacyanoferrate in a brine-contaminated soil column is a new method. A recent article in Agricultural & Environmental Letters reports on a new method for removing salts from brine-contaminated soils. Unlike other brine remediation techniques, this new in situ method removes salts from the soil surface and may expedite the remediation process.
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Is there actually a “right way” to dig a hole for planting?

Protecting your investment in your plants starts by digging a hole the right size, with the right conditions. If you dig the hole incorrectly, essentially all you do is create a bigger pot for your plant.

Planting your transplants in the right type of hole can make all the difference in their success. Look at the difference in the same variety of tomato planted in holes prepared in different ways. Which tomato – or shrub or tree – would you prefer to have in your yard?
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Film: Soil Story

Watch it and see how the soil can help restore the carbon balance on earth.
YouTube Video
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Between Earth and Sky

Between Earth and Sky released its second film trailer on Earth Day, April 22, 2016 after the first trailer won Golden ADDY. The ground-breaking film is the first of its kind to explore global climate change through the lens of soil science. The research-based film tells the story of global climate change by shining a light on arctic soils and ecosystems, and the livelihood of Alaskan-Americans. Between Earth and Sky is a collaborative film effort between the Soil Science Society of America, University of Alaska-Fairbanks (UAF), Texas Tech University (TTU), BL Allen Endowment in Pedology in the Department of Plant and Soil Science at TTU, Texas Tech Public Media, and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. The film documents the research of recently retired UAF professor Dr. Chien-Lu Ping, TTU’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences Chair of Pedology Dr. David C. Weindorf, and numerous other scientists and Alaskans. The science-based film examines global climate change through the lens of Alaska’s changing landscape and people. The essence is that soil science is going to be at the center of the debate in climate change studies.

Read more
(page down to find the video or search YouTube).


Conferences, Meetings and Workshops


Prague, Czech Republic, July 12-19, 2016. The 23rd Congress of the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS) will be dedicated to the theme “From human history to the future with spatial information”. ISPRS is a leading organization in remote sensing, photogrammetry and spatial information sciences – very high-resolution satellite imagery, terrain based imaging and participatory sensing, inexpensive platforms, and advanced information and communications technologies. Every 4 years the Congress welcomes participants from all over the world, thus strengthening relations among the researchers, professionals and representatives of governmental and non-governmental organizations thus enhancing the co-operation within the field.
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Meet the Editors of European Journal of Soil Science and Soil Use and Management at Eurosoil 2016

Istanbul, Turkey, July 21, 2016, 15:10 – 18:10. Professor Michael Goss, Editor-in-Chief of Soil Use and Management and Dr Margaret Oliver Editor-in-Chief of the European Journal of Soil Science will host a workshop session on preparing papers for international journals.
The session will be similar to that hosted at the Eurosoil meeting in Bari, providing advice to young authors with little experience of publishing in international journals. They will cover the best possible steps to take during preparation and submission of manuscript and offer advice on approaches to developing a scientific paper so that it will be accepted for publication.
The workshop will comprise a presentation of 30 minutes by the editors and a long question and answer session. The editors believe that this interaction with delegates is always a great success and they look forward doing this again in Turkey during Eurosoil Istanbul 2016, July 17-22, 2016.

8th International Acid Sulfate Soils Conference

College Park, Maryland, USA, July 17-23, 2016. 2nd Circular and Call for Abstracts. Theme: Acid Sulfate Soils: Pathways to Exposure and Remediation. There will be a number of field tours and technical sessions addressing topics ranging from sulfidization and sulfuricization to remediation strategies for inland acid sulfate soils and landscapes, AMD (acid mine drainage), ARD (acid rock drainage) and for coastal and agricultural acid sulfate soils and landscapes; Policy, Regulation and Education; Monitoring and mitigating impacts of acid sulfate soil and water during reclamation and development .
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6th International Disaster and Risk Conference IDRC Davos 2016
“Integrative Risk Management – Towards resilient cities”

Davos, Switzerland, August 28 – September 01, 2016. IDRC Davos is the world’s leading conference in Integrative Disaster and Risk Management, providing you with state of the art presentations about integrative risk management within high level panels, parallel and poster sessions as well as networking and advocacy opportunities. Call for abstracts is open now until April 30.
Abstract submission
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Organic Phosphorus Workshop 2016

Lake District, England, September 5-9, 2016. Following on from the successful meeting held in Panama in 2013, the organizers are delighted to announce a follow-on workshop for soil, water, plant and environmental scientists to come together to study and share ideas and innovation on the subject of “Organic Phosphorus in the Environment: Solutions for Phosphorus Security”. This 5 day workshop will include the following thematic sessions: Organic phosphorus flows in the environment in context with other nutrient cycles: Integration across ecosystems; Methods of evaluating organic phosphorus stocks, concentration and speciation; Biotic interactions in organic phosphorus cycling; Abiotic interactions of organic phosphorus in soil and waters: Stocks, flows and impact of scale and Global challenges for organic phosphorus research. Deadline for abstract submissions: 30 April 2016; Deadline for Early Bird Registration: 31 May 2016.
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RemTech Europe 2016

Ferrara, Italy, September 21-23, 2016. At the “RemTech Europe – European Conference on remediation markets and technologies”, leading European stakeholders will share information on knowledge, innovation and case histories, to encourage the development of remediation processes and the application of new and sustainable technologies, and to support the encounter between supplies and demands of available services and technologies, public and private. The themes of the Conference are regulations, current standards, fund raising, proven and innovative technologies, best practices introduced by some of the most important key players (public bodies & private companies).
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INSPIRE Conference 2016

Barcelona, Spain, 26-30 September 2016. INSPIRE is about efficiently sharing digital spatial data related to the environment between public authorities at all levels of government, across borders and with the public at large. Such requires effective coordination between all authorities involved and a high degree of legal and technical interoperability, which is also pursued in the context of the EU Digital Single Market. As such, the INSPIRE Conference 2016 also aims to show how the implementation of INSPIRE contributes to the European Interoperability Framework and the EU’s digital economy in general.
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XXI Latin American Soil Science Congress & XV Ecuadorian Soil Science Congress

Quito, Ecuador, October 24-28, 2016. This conference will have the theme “All soils in the middle of the world” and will deal with soil, support of landscape diversity, life and culture.
Read more (in Spanish only)

VI Latin American Symposia of Educative Innovations in Soil Science

Due to the fact that there is no possibility of any change or advance toward sustainability, without considering a real educative change, the Latin American Soil Science Society and the Ecuadorean Soil Science Society invite to participate in the “VI Latin-American Symposia of Educative Innovations in Soil Science”, which will take place within the XXI Latin American Congress in Quito, Ecuador on October 26, 2016. The guests will be children between 10-12 years old, who will be representing the member countries of the SLCS, and will be able to show their works.
Read more (in Spanish only)


New publications

Triaxial Testing of Soils

By Poul V. Lade. April 2016 by Wiley-Blackwell, 424 pages, ISBN: 978-1-119-10662-3, price paperback £125.00 / €158.40. Triaxial Testing of Soils explains how to carry out triaxial tests to demonstrate the effects of soil behaviour on engineering designs. An authoritative and comprehensive manual, it reflects current best practice and instrumentation. References are made throughout to easily accessible articles in the literature and the book’s focus is on how to obtain high quality experimental results.

Digital Soil Morphometrics

By Hartemink, Alfred E., Minasny, Budiman (Eds.), Series: Progress in Soil Science, 1st ed. 2016, XVII, 442, p. 177 illus., 122 illus. in color, ISBN 978-3-319-28295-4, price hardcover € 129,99. This book is about digital soil morphometrics which is defined as the application of tools and techniques for measuring, mapping and quantifying soil profile properties, and deriving depth functions of soil properties. The book is structured along four research topics: (i) Soil profile properties, (ii) Soil profile imaging, (iii) Soil depth functions, and (iv) Use and applications. The pedon is at the heart of digital soil morphometrics. The use of digital soil morphometrics exceeds the pedology and soil classification purpose that it currently serves – it is used in rapid soil assessment that are needed in a range of biophysical studies. Digital soil morphometrics has the potential to enhance our understanding of soils and how we view them. The book presents highlights from The IUSS Inaugural Global Workshop on Digital Soil Morphometrics held in June 2015 in Madison, USA.

True Truffle (Tuber spp.) in the World – Soil Ecology, Systematics and Biochemistry

By Zambonelli, Alessandra, Iotti, Mirco, Murat, Claude (Eds.), Series: Soil Biology, Vol. 47, 1st ed. 2016, X, 400 p. 70 illus., 28 illus. in color. ISBN 978-3-319-31436-5, price hardcover € 156,99. This book focuses on the taxonomic diversity of the genus Tuber as economically important truffles. In contributions by internationally respected scientists, it examines truffle systematics, interactions with abiotic and biotic environments, strategies for spore dispersal, and molecular processes in truffles. Topics discussed include: evolutionary theories and phylogeny of Tuber species from Asia, Europe and North-America; the influence of climate on the natural distribution of Tuber species and fruiting body production, soil characteristics and vegetation in natural habitats; tools for tracing truffles in soil, host diversity, truffle inhabiting fungi and truffle-associated bacteria; and the relationships of small mammals and wild boars with truffles, as well as the smell of truffles.This book offers a valuable reference guide for all researchers working in the fields of mycology, ecology and the soil sciences, and will also be useful for farmers and foresters interested in truffle cultivation worldwide.

Soil in Criminal and Environmental Forensics – Proceedings of the Soil Forensics Special, 6th European Academy of Forensic Science Conference, The Hague

By H. Kars, L. van den Eijkel (Eds.), Series: Soil Forensics, 1st ed. 2016, XII, 361 p. 106 illus., 77 illus. in color, ISBN 978-3-319-33115-7, price hardcover € 229,00. This introductory volume to a new series on Soil Forensics gives a kaleidoscopic view of a developing forensic expertise. Forensic practitioners and academic researchers demonstrate, by their joint contributions, the extent and complexity of soil forensics. Their reports exemplify the broad range of sciences and techniques applied in all stages of forensic soil examinations, from investigations at crime scenes to providing evidence that can be used in court proceedings. Moreover the necessity is depicted of co-operation as a condition for any work in soil forensics between scientists of different disciplines, but no less between scientists and law enforcers. Soils play a role in environmental crimes and liability, as trace evidence in criminal investigations and, when searching for and evaluating, buried human remains. This book shows soil forensics as practiced in this legal context, emerging and solidifying in many countries all over the world, differing in some respects because of differences in legal systems but ultimately sharing common grounds.

Advances in Agronomy, 1st Edition

By D Sparks (Editor), April 29, 2016 by Academic Press, ISBN : 9780128046920, 394 pages. Price hardcover € 117.30
Advances in Agronomy continues to be recognized as a leading reference and a first-rate source for the latest research in agronomy. Each volume contains an eclectic group of reviews by leading scientists throughout the world. As always, the subjects covered are rich and varied and exemplary of the abundant subject matter addressed by this long-running serial.


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