Taking care of soils since 1924
IUSS Alert 150 (December 2017)

IUSS Alert 150 (December 2017)


Season’s Greetings

The IUSS would like to wish all its members and friends a very merry Christmas, and a prosperous and happy New Year!


21st World Congress of Soil Science – latest news

The 21st World Congress of Soil Science (21WCSS) will take place in Rio de Janeiro, August 12 – 17, 2018. Dedicated to the theme “Soil Science: Beyond food and fuel”, it will review the key role of soil science in answering some of the topical key questions regarding future food and water security, environmental protection and climate change mitigation. Information on technical conference tours has been made available on the conference website.

Important dates:
Abstract submission until January 20, 2018
Abstract acceptance after March 15, 2018
Early registration ends March 31, 2018
Regular registration until May 12, 2018

Read more: https://www.21wcss.org/
Download the congress information: 


National voting of Officers for IUSS Divisions and Commissions 2017 – last reminder

Every four years the officers for the IUSS Divisions and Commissions are newly elected. Voting by IUSS Members is conducted electronically on a one vote per individual in each National Member Society basis. Elections will be decided by a simple majority of votes cast.

In line with the IUSS Bye-laws (version Oct. 2014) the national Soil Science Societies shall have organized the national voting of officers for Divisions and Commissions. The voting system for society members may still be open up to 31 December 2017, depending on the national society. The list of nominated persons (ballot), the corresponding biographies and the guideline for the voting procedure in 2017 are provided on the IUSS website.

The Presidents of the National Member Society are kindly requested to send the results of elections to iuss@umweltbundesamt.at (Cc to rhorn@soils.uni-kiel.deno later than 28 January 2018.

Read more: http://www.iuss.org/index.php?article_id=649


EGU 2018 – final reminder for abstract submission

As already announced, the EGU General Assembly 2018 (EGU2018) will take place 08–13 Apr 2018 in Vienna, Austria.

IUSS is involved in the organisation of session SSS1.3/EOS5 Soil science education, outreach and public engagement (co-organized). This session welcomes all perspectives on teaching soil science from school level to continuing professional development in non-academic settings. Contributions are welcomed that move away from concepts and methods for teaching soil science within traditional disciplines (chemistry, biology, physics) to those that use soil systems approaches. Innovative methods from the field, classroom and laboratory are welcome from anyone working with soil science education across varied settings. The conveners also welcome demonstrations of novel approaches for soil science outreach and public engagement that involve scientists and non-scientists. Examples that also measure the effectiveness of educational and outreach activities are especially welcome.

Deadline for abstract submission: 10 January 2018, 13:00 CET.

Read more: https://egu2018.eu/


IUSS Bulletin 131 published

The most recent IUSS Bulletin is online, featuring a variety of articles from an activity report of the IUSS Secretariat including recent IUSS Award winners, recent achievements during the International Decade of Soils (2015-2024), conference and meeting reports, upcoming conferences and meetings, new publications and obituaries of outstanding soil scientists.

Should you wish to submit contributions for the next Bulletin, which will be published in June 2018, or place paid advertisements, please contact the IUSS Secretariat at iuss@umweltbundesamt.at.

Read more: http://www.iuss.org/index.php?article_id=76


Newsletter of IUSS Division 4 ‘Soil Connects’ published

Issue 7 of the biannual SOIL Connects Newsletter of IUSS Division 4 has just been released. It includes a number of interesting articles, starting with a report from the Division Chair, Christian Feller, followed by an overview of the divisional and interdivisional symposia during 21WCSS in Rio de Janeiro next year, interesting articles on Open digital mapping for assessing carbon stored in tropical peatlands, or Climate change revealed from historical soil temperature data, concluding with new publications and forthcoming meetings.

Read more: http://www.iuss.org/index.php?article_id=423


World of Soils on IUSS website amended

The World of Soils page on the IUSS website has been amended by 18 profile pictures from Latvia and Estonia taken during the International WRB Soil Classification Field Workshop in July 2017 which was financially supported by the IUSS Stimulus Fund, IUSS Division 1 and University of Latvia. The guidebook of the workshop has also been amended accordingly and is available on the website.

Read more: http://www.iuss.org/index.php?article_id=73


WRB now available in Russian

The third edition of the international soil classification system World Reference Base for Soil Resources (WRB) is now available in Russian. After the Polish, Spanish and Georgian versions, this is the fourth translation of the current WRB. Many thanks to Inga Spiridonova for the translation and to Maria Gerasimova and Pavel Krasilnikov for the revision of the text. This edition was possible due to the financial support from FAO, and the Russian team and the IUSS Working Group WRB express their sincere gratitude. Translations into some other languages are currently in progress. It is hoped that spreading WRB in various countries will contribute to a better communication among scientists and to the development of the WRB system itself.

Read more: http://ecfs.msu.ru/ru/news/opublikovana-russkaya-versiya-mirovoy-referativnoy-bazy-pochvennyh-resursov-2014-871


Activities launched in the framework of the International Decade of Soils (2015-2024)

IUSS participates in ICSU Grant Project “TROP-ICSU”

As one of the activities launched during the International Decade of Soils (IDS), aiming at reaching out to a broader audience and to support education on soil IUSS participates as supporting partner in an ICSU Grant Project led by IUBS called “TROP-ICSU: Trans-disciplinary Research Oriented Pedagogy for Improving Climate Studies and Understanding”. The aim of TROP ICSU is to develop education and science communication modules in such a way that every future citizen would be better equipped to identify appropriate solutions for sustainable and equitable development.

The main target audience are senior school and undergraduate college/university teachers. TROP ICSU will train them to use new pedagogical tools that are based on the use of local data to teach the science of climate change. In year one of the project, the main activity was to test a suite of simulators (and also models/interactive videos/virtual reality platforms) of climate change as pedagogical tools. In 2018 the project will focus on pilot testing of new pedagogical tools, curriculum outreach and public engagement modules. The project partners are: IUBS – Lead partner, INQUA –co-lead partner, IUSS, IMU, IUGS, IUGG, IUHPST, IUFRO, AUC, IMAGINARYCODATA, ICSU-ROA, UNESCO and the National academies of Australia, India, Mongolia, South Africa, Ecuador & Egypt.

The TROP ICSU team would be glad to learn from your experience related to the topic. Please, contact experts you think may know about such tools.

If you and/or your colleagues are aware of such tools, please submit web links to either projects or web tools that are related to climate change and soil to barbara.birli@umweltbundesamt.at.

Read more: https://tropicsu.org/

Soils in Landscapes of the World – 2018 Calendar

This 2018 Calendar showing Soils in Landscapes of the World was designed in the Department of Soil Science and Landscape Management, Faculty of Earth Sciences, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland, to celebrate 2018 as the next year of the FAO UNESCO International Decade of Soils (2015-2024) and also the 100 anniversary of the Polish Geographical Society (1918-2018). Authors of the photos: Marcin Switoniak (tundra and mountain landscapes) and Michal Jankowski (others).

Read more: https://www.iuss.org/media/calendar_2018_-_soils_300dpi.jpg

Field research: discovering the structure of soil

Get your hands dirty with these classroom experiments exploring the composition of soil – and find out why this matters.

Soil is essential for life on this planet. Without it, we could not grow the food we need to live. What’s perhaps less well known is that soil has other important functions, too, such as filtering our water, storing it to help prevent flooding and droughts, and providing a habitat for a third of the world’s biodiversity – most of which we still know very little about. Soils also have a large impact on climate change, as they can store large amounts of organic carbon and are the most important terrestrial sink for carbon dioxide (Janzen, 2004).

For most students, particularly those who live in cities, the world below their feet remains unknown. To remedy this, we developed a two-part activity to help students to gain insights into the role that soil structure and its organic matter content has for all of us.

By Barbara Birli, Jane Mills, Francesco Morari.

Read more: http://www.scienceinschool.org/content/field-research-discovering-structure-soil

IDS News from the Latin American Soil Science Society (SLCS): “#ElSueloEsVida, #InTlalliTonemiliz, #LaTerraÉsVida, #TheSoilIsLife, #DerBodenistLeben,”

With the hash tag #TheSoilIsLife and the support of the Argentinean Soil Science Association (AACS), the regional FAO South America and INTA; within the framework of the educational project carried out by the Latin American Soil Science Society (SLCS), Argentina is resuming its educational project this year and launches “So are the Soils of my Country” together with the agricultural enterprise CREA, and Federico Fritz in front of it. The project is for young people from the last two years of secondary school in public and private schools, with the purpose of generating a space for reflection, awareness, study and research based on the multiple functions carried out by the SOIL resource.

¡Thus are the Soils of my Nation®!”

In 2017, another school in Ecuador joined the SLCS Educational project “¡Thus are the Soils of My Nation!” and therefore the “Educar 2000” College is a new member of the “Latin American Network for Soil Science teaching and learning” (RELAEECS® for its acronym in Spanish), which also participates in social networks with the hash tag #TheSoilIsLife.

Likewise, the Bolivian Society of Soil Science has begun its educational project by convening its first Bolivian “Symposium of Educational Innovations on Teaching Soil Science” held on November 14, 2017, from 9 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Chané Hall of the International Convention Center FEXPOCRUZ, in the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, within the framework of its VIII Bolivian Congress of Soil Science.

IUSS Stimulus Fund – Global Soil Icon Contest

Soil is the essence of all terrestrial life, and critical to the delivery of major ecosystem services for human wellbeing and nature conservancy. Yet, the term “soil” does not arouse the much deserved excitement or the “wow” moment among general public, civil societies, policy makers, and others. Thus, there is a strong need for a global icon that symbolizes the importance of soil as the elixir of terrestrial life, provider of food, moderator of climate, filter and reservoir of renewable water, habitat for germplasm, inspiration for aesthetical and spiritual activities, source of pharmaceuticals and other materials, archive of planetary and human history, among others. As an example of an icon, the WWF has been extremely successful in using the panda as an iconic symbol for species conservation. What iconic symbol can represent major ecosystem services of soil, while being simple and easy to be comprehended by the general public? Thus, identifying and promoting such a symbol would be a great leap forward.

Thus, IUSS will award 2,500 USD from the Stimulus Fund for the best Soil Icon. IUSS would like to invite all soil lovers, be they school children, students, designers, soil scientists or experts of any other profession, to submit their ideas for a Soil Icon. The winning icon will be used during the International Decade of Soils (2015-2024), an initiative launched by the International Union of Soil Sciences to raise awareness of the key roles played by soils in addressing the major resource, environmental, health and social problems humanity is currently facing.

Submissions should comprise a vector-based file with the icon and a short explanation of the idea and the author(s) behind (max. 2 pages). Please send your submissions to iuss@umweltbundesamt.at.

Deadline for submissions: 15 March 2018

The IUSS Stimulus Fund Committee shall evaluate all soil icon submissions and make recommendations to the Executive Committee. Final decision will be announced by the IUSS President or delegate within one month after the submission date given above. The results will be announced on the IUSS website. The winner will be informed in writing.
The best 12 icons will be displayed on the IUSS website (one per month).


General News

Soil penetration by earthworms and plant roots

Soil compaction is becoming a prominent problem in agriculture. The mechanics of soil bioturbation by earthworms and plant roots are studied to better understand how soil structure is generated naturally. Models have been developed to understand the similarities and differences in soil penetration by burrowing earthworms and growing plant roots. These models were tested with highly resolved rate controlled penetrometers. In a paper recently published in Vadose Zone Journal, researchers developed a mechanical model for soil bioturbation that can consider similarities and differences between earthworms and plant roots based on different soil penetration rates.

Read more: https://dl.sciencesocieties.org/story/2017/nov/fri/soil-penetration-by-earthworms-and-plant-roots


Perennially-based practices improve soil hydrology

Agricultural producers around the world are increasingly dealing with periods of too little or too much rainfall, contributing to droughts and floods, as well as crop yield declines and soil degradation. It is often suggested that practices that keep soil covered year-round can increase soil water storage that potentially negate such outcomes, but the degree to which different approaches can deliver water benefits has not been well quantified. In the September-October issue of Soil Science Society of America Journal, researchers conducted a global meta-analysis comparing agricultural management impacts on two soil water properties associated with increasing the water stored in soils: total porosity and water retained at field capacity.

Read more: https://dl.sciencesocieties.org/story/2017/nov/fri/perennially-based-practices-improve-soil-hydrology


Better soil could trap as much planet-warming carbon as transport produces

Improving soil health in farmlands could capture extra carbon equivalent to the planet-warming emissions generated by the transport sector, one of the world’s most polluting industries, experts say. Soil naturally absorbs carbon from the atmosphere through a process known as sequestration which not only reduce harmful greenhouse gases but also creates more fertile soil. Better soil management could boost carbon stored in the top layer of the soil by up to 1.85 giga tonnes each year, about the same as the carbon emissions of transport globally, according to a study published in Nature’s Scientific Reports journal.

Read more: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-climatechange-agriculture-soil/better-soil-could-trap-as-much-planet-warming-carbon-as-transport-produces-study-idUSKBN1DE2DB?org=1364&lvl=100&ite=584&lea=140666&ctr=0&par=1&trk=


The Global Soil Organic Carbon Map (GSOCmap)

The GSOCmap provides users with very useful information to monitor the soil condition, identify degraded areas, set restoration targets, explore SOC sequestration potentials, support the greenhouse gas emission reporting under the UNFCCC and make evidence-based decisions to mitigate and adapt to a changing climate.

Read more: http://www.fao.org/global-soil-partnership/pillars-action/4-information-and-data/global-soil-organic-carbon-gsoc-map/en/ or http://www.fao.org/3/a-i8195e.pdf


Global Soil Security

Global Soil Security is concerned with maintaining and improving the world’s soil resource to produce food, fibre and freshwater, maintain the biodiversity and ecosystem services and contribute to human health. On World Soil Day 2017 a soil webinar has been launched.

Read more: https://globalsoilsecurity.com/


Soil Power! The Dirty Way to a Green Planet

Regenerative agriculture as a solution for climate change. Now scientists are documenting how sequestering carbon in soil can produce a double dividend: It reduces climate change by extracting carbon from the atmosphere, and it restores the health of degraded soil and increases agricultural yields. Many scientists and farmers believe the emerging understanding of soil’s role in climate stability and agricultural productivity will prompt a paradigm shift in agriculture, triggering the abandonment of conventional practices like tillage, crop residue removal, mono-cropping, excessive grazing and blanket use of chemical fertilizer and pesticide.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/02/opinion/sunday/soil-power-the-dirty-way-to-a-green-planet.html


The zoo beneath our feet: We’re only beginning to understand soil’s hidden world

The gardener has a long, touchy-feely relationship with the soil. As every good cultivator knows, you assess the earth by holding it. Is it dark and crumbly, is there an earthworm or beetle in there, is it moist, and when you smell it, are you getting that pleasant earthy aroma? All these signs are reassuring, and have been through the ages, but they are mere indicators of something much greater and infinitely mysterious: a hidden universe beneath our feet.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/home/the-zoo-beneath-our-feet-were-only-beginning-to-understand-soils-hidden-world/2017/08/08/f73e3950-7799-11e7-9eac-d56bd5568db8_story.html?utm_term=.ecb4f4ca7cb7


Soil experiments for children

The Soil LAB Activity Book is an educational tool for teachers, children and anyone who wishes to learn more about this year’s theme. This series presents six simple science experiments to do at home or at school with children. They provide a fun way to introduce children of all ages to basic scientific soil concepts and reveal many of the reasons why caring for our soils means caring for our future. Available in English and Spanish.

Read more: http://www.fao.org/3/a-i7957e.pdf

[From: Global Soil Partnership Newsletter #14 | Are you ready to celebrate World Soil Day?]


Conferences, Meetings and Workshops


KEYSOM training School: Linking soil biodiversity with soil organic matter dynamics

March 20-23, 2018, Birmensdorf, Zurich, Switzerland. This school will provide a comprehensive overview of the tools available to assess the soil biodiversity (including macrofauna, mesofauna, microfauna and microorganisms), such as classical taxonomic approaches to novel soil DNA metabarcoding. The originality of this training school lies in the interdisciplinarity of its subjects, from molecular biology to soil science. Application until January 15, 2018.

Read more: http://www.keysom.eu/ or http://www.iuss.org/index.php?article_id=21

International field workshop WRB soil classification 2018

September 16 –23, 2018, Cluj-Napoca, Romania. A field trip into a pedological mosaic of Transylvania is proposed for the 2018 workshop. The soil pattern is imposed by a varied relief starting from lowlands, with extensive alluvial terraces, to tablelands and mountains. During the workshop, we will experience a diversity of soils (approximately 20 soil profiles) that include Chernozems, Phaeozems, Luvisols, Cambisols, Technosols and soils with archeological interest formed in Roman Empire period heritage sites. Registration and payment closes 31 July 2018.

Read more: https://sites.google.com/view/wrb-romania2018


New publications

IUSS book The Nexus of Soils, Plants, Animals and Human Health

Edited by Bal Ram Singh, Michael J. McLaughlin and Eric Brevik on behalf of the IUSS; Published as GeoEcology essay by Schweizerbart in December 2017. VII, 163 pages, 17 figures, 12 tables, 17×24cm, 480 g. ISBN 978-3-510-65417-8, price paperback: 24.90 €.

The 21 contributions in this book describe the role soils play for plant, animal and human health. They show that soil- and human health are intricately connected, because healthy soils produce healthy crops, which in turn nourish humans and animals, allowing for their health and productivity.

Soil quality directly influences the quality and quantity of food that can be produced, as soils provide essential macro- and micronutrients and attenuate environmental pollutants. On the other hand, these same pollutants, thus concentrated in soils, may cause soils to become toxic and degraded. Soils (and their crops) may also be responsible for exposure to pests and pathogens, while, at the same time, providing drug substances and may even suppress diseases. Soil quality is vital on a global scale, as more than 800 million people around the world are undernourished, implying that their intake of food is insufficient to meet their daily energy needs, and the deficiency of essential micronutrients is even more widespread. Nearly one third of the world’s population is affected by zinc deficiency, while iron deficiency affects nearly 3 billion people. Climate change has been shown to affect animal and human health, and soils are intricately linked to the atmosphere by being both a source and sink of greenhouse gases. Soils are the largest active terrestrial reservoir of organic carbon and its sequestration in soils can be enhanced by improved management practices.

The book summarizes the current state of research of these important issues and provides a comprehensive treatise of the global importance of soils for humankind.

Copies can be ordered directly from the publisher or from the IUSS Secretariat for EUR 24.90 (paperback). IUSS members can order it from the Secretariat for a reduced price of EUR 20.00 (minimum 10 copies) – please note that shipping costs will be added to the sales price.

Read more: http://www.schweizerbart.de/publications/detail/isbn/9783510654178


Essentials of Soil Science.

Soil formation, functions, use, and classification (World Reference Base, WRB)

By Winfried Blum; Schad, Peter; Nortcliff, Stephen; will be published 1 January 2018 by Schweizerbart. 171 pages, 101 figures, 22 tables, ISBN 978-3-443-01090-4, price paperback 27.90 €.
This book is an introduction to soil science and describes the development of soils, their characteristics and their material composition as well as their functions in terrestrial and aquatic environments. Soil functions include the delivery of goods and services for the human society, such as food, clean water, and the maintenance of biodiversity.
The book is profusely illustrated with many coloured figures and tables to accompany the text and ease its understanding. Particularly, the chapter on soil classification, based on the World Reference Base for Soil Resources (WRB), includes numerous coloured pictures to facilitate understanding the characteristics of particular soil types. Chapters on soil protection and remediation as well as on soil monitoring and the history of soil sciences conclude the book together with a very comprehensive alphabetical index, allowing for a quick and easy orientation about the most important terms in soil sciences.
The book addresses all those, who want to orient themselves about soils, their functions, their importance in terrestrial and aquatic environments and their contribution to the actual and future development of the human society, such as teachers, practitioners and students in the fields of agriculture, forestry, gardening, terrestrial and aquatic ecology and environmental engineering, and of course, beginning students of soil science.

Read more: http://schweizerbart.com/9783443010904


GlobalSoilMap – Digital Soil Mapping from Country to Globe

Proceedings of the Global Soil Map 2017 Conference, July 4-6, 2017, Moscow, Russia. Edited by Dominique Arrouays, Igor Savin, Johan Leenaars, Alex B. McBratney, published by Routledge 28 November 2017, © 2018 – CRC Press, 174 pages, ISBN 9780815375487, price hardback GBP 104.00.

GlobalSoilMap: Digital Soil Mapping from Country to Globe contains contributions that were presented at the 2nd GlobalSoilMap conference, held 4-6 July 2017 in Moscow, Russian Federation. These contributions demonstrate new developments in the GlobalSoilMap project and digital soil mapping technology in many parts of the world, with special focus on former USSR countries. GlobalSoilMap: Digital Soil Mapping from Country to Globe aims to stimulate capacity building and new incentives to develop full GlobalSoilMap products in all parts of the world.

Read more: https://www.routledge.com/GlobalSoilMap—-Digital-Soil-Mapping-from-Country-to-Globe-Proceedings/Arrouays-Savin-Leenaars-McBratney/p/book/9780815375487


Phytoremediation of Environmental Pollutants

By Ram Chandra, N.K. Dubey, Vineet Kumar, published December 19, 2017 by CRC Press, 510 Pages, 46 Colour & 81 B/W Illustrations, ISBN 9781138062603, price hardback GBP 116.00.

Phytoremediation aids to augment bioremediation as it uses broad range plants to remediate soil, sediment, surface water and ground water that have been contaminated with toxic metals, organic, pesticides and radionuclides. This book serves to disseminate detailed up to date knowledge regarding the various aspects of phytoremediation and plant-microbe interaction. The book highlights process and molecular mechanisms for industrial waste detoxification during phytoremediation in wetland plants, role of endophytic bacteria for phytoremediation of environmental pollutants, constructed wetland treatment system for treatment and recycling of hazardous wastewater, amongst other relevant topics.

Read more: https://www.crcpress.com/Phytoremediation-of-Environmental-Pollutants/Chandra-Dubey-Kumar/p/book/9781138062603


Handbook of Environmental Health, Fourth Edition, Volume II: Pollutant Interactions in Air, Water, and Soil

By Herman Koren and Michael S. Bisesi. November 28, 2017 by CRC Press, 904 Pages, ISBN 9780815380979, price GBP 61.60. The Handbook of Environmental Health-Pollutant Interactions in Air, Water, and Soil includes Nine Chapters on a variety of topics including Air Quality Management, Solid and Hazardous Waste Management, Private and Public Water Supplies, Private and Public Sewage Disposal and Soils, Water Pollution and Water Quality Controls ,Major Instrumentation for Environmental Evaluation of Ambient Air, Water, and Soil.

Read more: https://www.crcpress.com/Handbook-of-Environmental-Health-Fourth-Edition-Volume-II-Pollutant-Interactions/Koren-Bisesi/p/book/9780815380979



EQ3 Equitensiometer – Soil water potential over 0 to -1000 kPa

  • Convenient, reliable alternative to water-filled tensiometer
  • Maintenance-free
  • Buriable and frost resistant
  • Built-in temperature sensor

The EQ3 uses class leading ThetaProbe technology to avoid the many problems of water-filled tensiometers. It measures water potential (matric potential) in the range 0 to -1000 kPa and provides an accurate loggable output (0 – 1 V). It is well suited for use in dry soils.

The EQ3 Equitensiometer is ideal for static long term monitoring of water potential; it can even be left installed in frozen soils. Applications include plant, soil, ecology and geo-sciences research, as well as civil engineering and agricultural engineering. Best accuracy is achieved between -100 and -500 kPa.

The EQ3 is maintenance-free (no refilling, degassing, or topping up required), buriable (IP68) and low powered, so it can be used at remote sites over long periods of time.


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