Update: 18.10.2017

There are over 100,000 different types of soil in the world.

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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 131 (May 2016)


IUSS booth at EGU General Assembly in Vienna

For the second time, the IUSS successfully presented itself at the European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly 2016, Vienna, Austria, April 18-22, 2016. This time the IUSS booth was on the main exhibition floor, shared by the IUSS, ESSC, BSSS, JSSSPN, JSP, and TMU. EGU 2016 attracted 13,650 participants bringing together geoscientists from all over the world, covering all disciplines of the Earth, planetary and space sciences. The IUSS took this opportunity to present a new flyer and posters of the 4 IUSS Divisions, which were well received. An inflatable globe showing the world’s soils attracted particular attention. Another highlight was the announcement of the International Decade of the Soil with a view to recent achievements and planned future activities. Related information material and copies of the Vienna Soil Declaration were made available. In addition, a questionnaire was distributed among the people visiting the IUSS booth to get information on what participants thought about the success of IYS events and potential IUSS outreach activities. Ideas were sought on how to further promote soil issues.
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IUSS Presidential elections 2016 – Last 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: r.swift@uq.edu.au) by 31st May, 2016. A copy should also be sent to iuss@umweltbundesamt.at
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IUSS Profile published in Adjacent Government

As one of the outreach activities during the International Decade of Soils (2015-2024), a two-page profile on the IUSS was published in the May 2016 edition of Adjacent Government, pages 250-251.
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Newsletter of IUSS Commission 1.1: Soil Morphology and Micromorphology published

The spring newsletter of IUSS Commission 1.1 Soil Morphology and Micromorphology was published. It contains a call for nominations for the 2016 Young Micromorphologist Publication Award, an overview of forthcoming meetings, research notes and publications, to name just a few items.
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Top Honour for Work Down Under: Professor Alex McBratney Inducted as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science

Former IUSS Deputy Secretary General, Professor Alex McBratney, Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment of the University of Sydney has received one of Australia’s highest scientific honours, being inducted as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science on Monday 23 May 2016.
An accolade such as this brings soil science into the forefront of community thinking. It gives myself, and other scientists in this field recognition of the innovative, advanced and novel research being conducted. We are working to improve our understanding of the fundamental properties of this remarkable ‘skin’ of the Earth and determining how crucial soil is in contributing to growing food today and into the future, said newly admitted Fellow, Professor Alex McBratney.

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World Reference Base translated into several languages

The Polish translation was the first. The book can be ordered from the Polish Soil Science Society. The Spanish translation is ready and will be available soon. The French translation is advanced. If you are planning a translation of WRB into another language, please inform Peter Schad, Chair of IUSS Working Group WRB.
Contact: schad@wzw.tum.de

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Keys (2.0) of Soil Taxonomy available in Spanish

The 12th edition of the Keys of Soil Taxonomy were recently translated into Spanish, the 11th edition was the first. After decades of working with soil scientists from around the world, NRCS decided it was important to increase awareness and expand knowledge of the value of soil and its impact on all aspects of life. Many soil scientists and other professionals from Latin America, the United States, and other countries will benefit from this translation effort for years to come. According to NRCS leadership, the translation will expand the horizons of U.S. Soil Taxonomy by allowing professionals in all parts of the world to apply and interpret the system in a more uniform and consistent way. While soils differ globally, the ability to apply a system that is universally understood and accepted is a goal shared by many soil scientists.

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ICSU meeting in Paris

The annual general assembly of ICSU (International Council for Sciences) took place in Paris 11-13 April 2016. It was attended by more than 40 unions and further representatives of national foundations and organisations. Prior to the ICSU meeting, the GeoUnions (GUs) Steering Committee met on 11 April 2016 in order to inform about the ongoing activities of the GU members. GU is a network of representatives of nine international scientific unions (IUPS; URSI; IUSS; IUGG; ISPRS; ICA; IUGS; IGU; IAU) of ICSU dealing with Earth and space sciences, and to discuss several topics for the following ICSU meeting including challenges and opportunities for ICSU and scientific Unions within a shifting global scientific landscape.
IUSS has decided to keep updated on the international links of ICSU, IRDR Future Earth, and interdisciplinary programmes. IUSS needs to guarantee continuity and active involvement to achieve a beneficial involvement in the system in the long run. The unions can only deliver information if they know each other. Within the new strategic plan of ICSU the board promised to include all concerns and will improve their activities and their ways of communicating.
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The direct and indirect impacts of EU policies on land

The 2011 Roadmap to a resource efficient Europe states, in its milestone of actions, to address land as a resource, that ‘By 2020, EU policies take into account their direct and indirect impact on land use in the EU and globally. This report presents a methodology for the assessment of European Union (EU) policies in terms of their land-related implications in Europe and provides an initial testing of the methodology across key EU policies and two in-depth case studies, which focus on Cohesion Policy spending on transport in Poland and Spain.
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Probing impacts of fertilization on soil organic matter with light

Soil organic matter (SOM) is a primary determinant of soil quality, regulating many important characteristics and processes. It is exceedingly diverse and inextricably related to the myriad life forms in healthy soil. Studies of SOM typically employ a series of chemical extractions to remove operationally defined categories of SOM and then determine their properties by various means. A study in the latest issue of Vadose Zone Journal examined the potential for a sophisticated optical technique to characterize SOM in bulk mineral soil and extracts to probe long-term changes related to different fertilization practices. Specifically, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) was used to assess long-term changes in SOM in soils that had been systematically subjected to different fertilization schemes.
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'Climate-smart soils' may help balance the carbon budget

Here’s the scientific dirt: Soil can help reduce global warming. While farm soil grows the world’s food and fiber, scientists are examining ways to use it to sequester carbon and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, sequestering carbon and using prudent agricultural management practices that tighten the soil-nitrogen cycle can yield enhanced soil fertility, bolster crop productivity, improve soil biodiversity, and reduce erosion, runoff and water pollution. These practices also buffer crop and pasture systems against the impacts of climate change.
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Dirt First

The NRCS (today’s iteration of the Dust Bowl–era Soil Conservation Service) convenes training sessions around the US as part of a soil health campaign launched in 2012.
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Mars soil Experiment

In the film The Martian, Mark Watney uses soil on Mars to grow potatoes – and this kind of space gardening might not be as far away from reality as it seems. Researchers in Peru are attempting to mimic the conditions found on the red planet to grow potatoes on a plot in Lima. Nasa is conducting the pioneering experiment together with Lima’s International Potato Center (CIP).
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Film: Sustainable Land Management in Africa

Did You Know 20-25% of all land on Earth is degraded? Sustainable Land Management practices help to ensure Soil fertility and lasting ecosystem services (food production, water filtration, etc). Solutions to SLM, especially in many countries in the Global South, need to be found through participatory dialogue with land users in varying contexts.
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Conferences, Meetings and Workshops

Course on Soil Mineralogy and Micromorphology

16th Edition, August 1-12, 2016, Buenos Aires, Argentina. The course will be given in Spanish. The first week is devoted to the study of inorganic fractions of soils, focused on clay mineralogy and concepts on processes of mineral weathering, soil formation and soil organization, including an introduction to analytical techniques particularly X-ray diffractometry. The second week is centered on soil micromorphology including the descriptive system and the principles and techniques of optical and electronic microscopy. During the course numerous examples of application of mineralogy and micromorphology to different fields of research, specially to soil genesis, soil physics and soil management are exposed and discussed.
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Contact: hmorras@gmail.com

International Conference on Agricultural Sciences and Food Technology for Sustainable Productivity and Nutritional Security

August 25-27, 2016, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, Karnataka, India. Registration and abstract submission is now open. Agricultural productivity, nutritional security and environmental sustainability require urgent and utmost scientific intervention at regional, national and international levels. This conference aims to provide a forum for scientific deliberations and research collaborations on agricultural sciences and food technologies in order to achieve the most alarming millennium goals of increasing agricultural productivity, while ensuring nutritional security and environmental sustainability.
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International Scientific Conference “Conserving Soils and Water 2016”

August 31 – September 3, 2016, Atlantis hotel, Sarafovo district, Burgas, Bulgaria. The protection of natural resources is the most important issue for mankind. Scientists from all over the world are called upon to give their contribution for the protection of the riches of Nature and the welfare of mankind. The soil and water protection through the development of science and technologies is becoming a priority and a motivating factor in the life of many people and whole societies. Abstract submission deadline: May 31, 2016.
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DBG/IUSS Joint Commission Meeting

September 1-2, 2016, Braunschweig, Germany. The DBG (Deutsche Bodenkundliche Gesellschaft) Commission I „Soil Physics and Soil Hydrology“ of the German Soil Science Society and the Commission 2.1 „Soil Physics“ of IUSS organize a joint commission meeting. The meeting will have a specific session dealing with the change of mechanical and hydraulic properties of soil by biological, chemical and physical factors. Prof. Paul Hallet, University of Aberdeen, will give a keynote on “Biological Control on Soil Mechanical and Hydraulic Properties”. Furthermore, the meeting offers room for exchange on free topics of current soil physical research, according to the motto “My current interest”. In addition to the dissemination of the latest findings also „unfinished“ work and questions are welcome that stimulate the scientific discussions between members of IUSS and DBG. This helps to identify current research trends in soil physics on an international level as represented by DBG and IUSS members. All members of DBG and IUSS are invited to present their current work. Interested members of other commissions are also welcome.
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26th International Symposium on Soil Forming Factors and Processes from the Temperate Zone

September 16 – 18, 2016, Iași, Romania. Theme: Soil science and archaeology: research methods and perspectives; The main goal of the Symposium is to discuss the overall aspects regarding the integration of soil science with different disciplines from humanities and social sciences in order to assess long-term patterns of human-soil interactions over Holocene/Anthropocene timescales. This symposium will be relevant to researchers working in soil science, archaeology, geoarchaeology, bioarchaeology or cultural resources management.
First circular

ICILUPSA-2016 International Conference on “Integrated Land Use Planning for Smart Agriculture”

November 10-13, 2016, Nagpur, India. Organized by the Indian Society of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning (ISSLUP); the participants will deliberate on various emerging issues and the agenda for sustainable land management.
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5th International Soil Classification Congress 2016

December 1-7, 2016, South Africa. Registration and abstract submission for the Field Workshop and the Conference of the IUSS Commission Soil Classification is now open. Deadline for abstract submission is 17 June 2016.
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1st World Conference on Soil and Water Conservation under Global Change (CONSOWA) 2017

June 12-16, 2017, Lleida (Spain). A joint Conference of the “International Soil Conservation Organization” (19th ISCO Conference), the “World Association for Soil and Water Conservation” (Conference on Soil and Water Conservation of WASWAC), the “European Society for Soil Conservation” (8th ESSC Congress), the “International Union of Soil Science (IUSS-Commissions 3.2, 3.6), the Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS), the “International Erosion Control Association” (IECA) and the “World Association for Sedimentation and Erosion Research” (WASER), in parallel with the VIII Simposio Nacional sobre Control de la Degradación y Restauración de Suelos (SECS).
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IUSS Conferences of Commission 3.2: Soil and Water Conservation and Commission 3.6: Salt Affected Soils 2017

will be held in the framework of CONSOWA 2017
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Pedometrics 2017

June 26 to July 2 , 2017, Hof van Wageningen, The Netherlands. Pedometrics will be celebrating its Silver Jubilee in 2017. The first pedometrics conference was held in Wageningen in September 1992. This will also be a joint conference with four of its Working Groups: Digital Soil Mapping, Proximal Soil Sensing, Soil Monitoring, Modelling of Soil and Landscape Evolution, and Digital Soil Morphometrics.

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New publications

The Nature and Properties of Soils

15th edition, by Ray Weil and Nyle Brady (deceased). January 2016 by Pearson, 1089 pages, ISBN-13: 978-0133254488, price hardcover USD 96.00. This edition updates a narrative that has been at the forefront of soil science for more than a century. It has evolved to provide a globally relevant framework for an integrated understanding of the diversity of soils, the soil system and its role in the ecology of planet Earth. This is the first edition to feature full-colour illustrations and photographs throughout. In addition to hundreds of new illustrations and references, this edition addresses the many changes in soil science thinking during the past decade or so.

Book Pasión por la tierra, Crónicas de naturaleza y territorio

By José Luis Rubio. April 2016 by UNED Alzira –Valencia, ISBN: 978-84-92885-23-7, price: EUR 14, available in Spanish only. Based on his environmental/scientific articles published in the newspaper El Mundo, the author offers a wide variety of topics related to the curiosities and secrets of the functioning of the natural world around us, their connection with society, people and science. In general, the set of articles offers two approaches to nature. Sensory and aesthetic aspects bring us recreation and excitement. The other approach is to understand and decipher the occult. It is fascinating to feel and appreciate what happens in nature but last but not least we want to know why it happens and how it affects us. Two visions – each of them more exciting than the other.
Order from: libreria@valencia.uned.es

Modeling Methods and Practices in Soil and Water Engineering

By Balram Panigrahi, Megh R. Goyal. May 2, 2016, Apple Academic Press, ISBN 9781771883269, Price £99.00. This book discusses the development of useful models and their applications in soil and water engineering. It covers various modeling methods, including groundwater recharge estimation, rainfall-runoff modeling using artificial neural networks, development and application of a water balance model and a HYDRUS-2D model for cropped fields, a multi-model approach for stream flow simulation, multi-criteria analysis for construction of groundwater structures in hard rock terrains, hydrologic modeling of watersheds using remote sensing, and GIS and AGNPS.

Soil and Water Engineering – Principles and Applications of Modeling

By Balram Panigrahi, Megh R. Goyal (editors). May 2, 2016, Apple Academic Press, 550 pages, 18 Color Illus., 136 B/W Illus., ISBN 9781771883924, Price £121.00. Modeling aspects have added a new dimension in research innovations in all branches of engineering. In the field of soil and water engineering, they are increasingly used for planning, development, and management of land and water resources, including analysis of quantity and quality parameters of surface and ground water, flood forecasting and control measures, optimum allocation and utilization of irrigation water. The application of these models saves considerable time in decision support systems and helps in conservation and optimum allocations of scarce precious natural resources.

Rainfall-Induced Soil Slope Failure – Stability Analysis and Probabilistic Assessment

By Lulu Zhang, Jinhui Li, Xu Li, Jie Zhang, Hong Zhu. May, 25, 2016, CRC Press, 374 pages, 20 Color Illus., 293 B/W Illus., ISBN: 9781498752794, Price £140.00. The book integrates probabilistic approaches with the geotechnical modeling of slope failures under rainfall conditions with unsaturated soil. It covers theoretical models of rainfall infiltration and stability analysis, reliability analysis based on coupled hydro-mechanical modelling, stability of slopes with cracks, gravels and spatial heterogenous soils, and probabilistic model calibration based on measurement. It focuses on the uncertainties involved with rainfall-induced landslides and presents state-of-the art techniques and methods which characterize the uncertainties and quantify the probabilities and risk of rainfall-induced landslide hazards.

Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas

By Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, May 25, 2016, 176 pages, ISBN: 978-92-79-48169-7, price EUR 25. The Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas can be ordered from the EU Bookshop and is the result of three years of dedicated work from 130 experts from around the world. It is the first global summary of soil biodiversity, their role in ecosystem services, and threats to soil biodiversity. This striking publication uses more than 100 informative boxes and 900 images, figures, and maps to showcase scientifically sound soil biodiversity knowledge in a clear and simple style.
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Satellite Soil Moisture Retrieval

1st Edition by Prashant Srivastava, George Petropoulos and Y.H. Kerr (editors). May 2016 by Elsevier, 448 pages, ISBN: 9780128033883, price hardcover: EUR 69.50.Satellite Soil Moisture Retrieval: Techniques and Applications offers readers a better understanding of the scientific underpinnings, development, and application of soil moisture retrieval techniques and their applications for environmental modeling and management, bringing together a collection of recent developments and rigorous applications of soil moisture retrieval techniques from optical and infrared datasets, such as the universal triangle method, vegetation indices based approaches, empirical models, and microwave techniques, particularly by utilizing earth observation datasets such as IRS III, MODIS, Landsat7, Landsat8, SMOS, AMSR-e, AMSR2 and the upcoming SMAP.

Digital Soil Mapping Across Paradigms, Scales and Boundaries

By Zhang, G.-L., Brus, D., Liu, F., Song, X.-D., Lagacherie, P. (editors). 2016 by Springer, 358 pages, 70 illus., 40 illus. in colour, ISBN 978-981-10-0414-8, price hardcover EUR 87.99. This book contains papers presented at the 6th Global Workshop on Digital Soil Mapping, held 11-14 November 2014 at the Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences of Nanjing, China. This book provides a comprehensive overview of the state of the art in digital soil mapping , enriches understanding of global soil grids both at national and continental level and explores strategies for bridging research, production, and environmental applications in DSM.
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