Taking care of soils since 1924
IUSS Alert 156 (June 2018)

IUSS Alert 156 (June 2018)

IUSS Bulletin 132

The IUSS Secretariat (iuss@umweltbundesamt.at) would like to thank all IUSS members for their contributions to Bulletin No 132 which shall be published online end of June 2018.


IUSS viewpoints on YouTube

In the beginning of each month a Viewpoint on soil issues from the desk of Rattan Lal, IUSS president, is published on the IUSS website, so far covering the following issues: Medical Pedology: An Emerging Discipline in Soil Science; Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit; Soil: The Hidden Treasure of Nature; We Are A Soil; The Glamour of Soil Science and Soil Degradation: The Case of Human Parasitism.

The viewpoints on soil issues can also be watched on the IUSS YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX3cdAuO5QrPx0EtDPahQcg


21st World Congress of Soil Science in Rio

The Scientific Programme (Conferences, Interdivisional, Divisional, Working groups, Poster, Voluntary and Technical/Innovation sessions) as well as information about special events of this major soil science event to be held 12-17 August is now available!
Read more: https://www.21wcss.org/


IUSS participates in ICSU Grant Project “TROP-ICSU” – request for input

TROP-ICSU stands for Trans-disciplinary Research Oriented Pedagogy for Improving Climate Studies and Understanding. As already reported in previous Alerts, the project aims to improve awareness of climate change and the science behind it among students and the general public by developing teaching aids for teachers and science communication modules for the general public.

Within the framework of this project, IUSS is helping to carry out a preliminary survey among educators on Teaching Toolkits for school and undergraduate teachers (educators) to understand how topics related to climate change are currently discussed in the classroom in different parts of the world. This survey, which is available in English, Catalan, Chinese, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese Portuguese, and Spanish should take approximately 8-10 minutes to complete. Responses will be treated as confidential and will be used for our research purposes in the project only. IUSS should be very grateful for your input.

Complete the online survey: https://tropicsu.org/educators-survey/
Read more: https://tropicsu.org/


Progress with the IUSS book on Global Soil Proverbs

In 2018 – on World Soil Day (5th Dec.) – IUSS intends to publish a book on Global Soil Proverbs which is part of the book series launched during the International Decade of Soils 2015 – 2024. At the time of writing this Alert, 35 letters of intent to submit a chapter on proverbs have been submitted. We very much appreciate this engagement and are looking forward to receiving the chapters until end of June.


Jon Hempel (†2018)

Jon Hempel retired as the Director of the National Soil Survey Center for the US Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Lincoln, NE with 32 years of Federal Service.
Jon’s great contribution to soil science was as an internationalist – bringing soil scientists from all over the world together with common and challenging goals.
In addition to his chairing the IUSS Working Group on a Universal Soil Classification System, he was instrumental in setting up GlobalSoilMap and all the global initiatives that have happened as a consequence of that, including contributing to the establishment and work program of the Global Soil Partnership. He was an inaugural member of the International Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS) as well.
After his retirement Jon rediscovered soils in the field in extremely remote parts of Australia.  He did this with an openness and delight in his discoveries.  He also added wisdom, experience and history, and good humour to Australia’s tightly knit soil survey community.  There is much sadness now in that community. He will be greatly missed by his colleagues and friends all over the world!
[By Erika Michéli, chair of Division 1]


General News

GSP Special Announcement: Zero-draft Code of Conduct for the Use and Management of Fertilizers – Online Consultation

After an online consultation between 21 December 2017 and 11 February 2018 and with the support of an open-ended working group (OEWG) of fertilizer experts, the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS) produced a zero-draft International Code of Conduct for the Use and Management of Fertilizers.

While many GSP member countries agreed to endorse the Fertilizer Code in its current form and present it to the Committee on Agriculture (COAG) in October 2018, some members felt that the document could be improved and would benefit from further stakeholder engagement and consultation, thus, ensuring the Code of Conduct will be truly relevant and have the maximum effect and buy in from all. FAO/GSP are therefore holding a second online consultation to gather comments and feedback on the current draft Fertilizer Code of Conduct and use this feedback to fine-tune it.

Please provide your feedback and comments by Sunday 15th July, 2018.

Online survey: http://www.fao.org/fsnforum/activities/discussions/CoCoFe_II


CountrySIS – Soil Information Survey

The Pillar 4 of the Global Soil Partnership is working on improving quality and accessibility of soil information worldwide. One of our primary objectives is to support the countries in establishing, harmonizing and bringing together their own soil information systems and data products. In order to plan further activities and projects in accordance with the needs and capacities of all country members, we kindly ask you to participate in the survey, concerning current status of soil information in your country.

The deadline for the submission is 15th of July 2018!

Please distribute the form to all relevant experts/institutions which are collecting and maintaining soil information in your country. In case of multiple soil databases / information systems in your country, please submit a separate form for each database/information system (multiple forms may be submitted from the same country). In case your country doesn’t have a soil database / information system, please fill-in the form anyway (there is a corresponding option).

By providing the comprehensive information through the survey, you will ensure that your country is taken into account in the GSP planning for soil data related projects for the upcoming years. The summary of the survey results will be published on the GSP website.

To access the survey, please use the following link: https://goo.gl/forms/OU1lRhn2FNtQyod72


Call for manuscripts “Technological and Methodological Advances in Measuring, Mapping and Monitoring Soil Carbon and Nutrients in Space and Spacetime” Special issue in Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems Journal

(https://link.springer.com/journal/10705) We aim at producing a special issue listing good practice examples of how novel technologies such as soil sensing and image recognition, automated sensor networks, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and publicly available remote sensing products (such as NASA’s Landsat 7 & 8 and ASTER missions, ESA’s Sentinel 2 and other Copernicus land products, JAXA’s Advanced Land Observing Satellite ALOS, LiDAR, TanDEMx and similar missions), in combination with statistical / machine learning, data mining and high performance computing, can be used to generate most accurate maps of soil carbon and soil nutrients in space and spacetime. Important dates:

  • First call: June 1st, 2018
  • Manuscript submission until December 1st, 2018
  • Manuscript evaluation until February 20th, 2019
  • Special issue publication in March 2019.

Read more: http://opengeohub.org/#SI.NutrientMapping


Fast methods for predicting the soil-water retention curve

The soil-water retention curve is essential for understanding and modeling water and solute transport in the vadose zone and water availability for plants. However, measuring the soil-water retention curve is highly time-consuming and a fast and accurate method to predict it is needed. In an upcoming issue of the Vadose Zone Journal, researchers developed models to predict the soil-water retention curve using visible−near infrared spectroscopy and a soil fines (soil clay-size fraction and organic matter) based pedotransfer function, covering a wide range of soil texture, from sandy to loamy soils, and organic matter contents.

Read more: https://www.soils.org/science-policy/sspr/2018-05-30/?_cldee=sigbert.huber@umweltbundesamt.at#5757
[From: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Science Policy Report, 30 May 2018]


UK farmers to be given first ever targets on soil health

A new bill will be brought before parliament this year mandating, for the first time, measures and targets to preserve and improve the health of the UK’s soils, amid growing concern that we are sleepwalking into a crisis of soil fertility that could destroy our ability to feed ourselves.
The UN has warned that the world’s soils face exhaustion and depletion, with an estimated 60 harvests left before they are too degraded to feed the planet, and a 2014 study in the UK found matters are not much better, estimating 100 harvests remaining.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/13/uk-farmers-to-be-given-first-ever-targets-on-soil-health


Organic matter preserved in 3-billion-year-old mudstones at Gale crater, Mars

The Curiosity rover has been sampling on Mars for the past 5 years. Eigenbrode et al. used two instruments in the SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars) suite to catch traces of complex organics preserved in 3-billion-year-old sediments. Heating the sediments released an array of organics and volatiles reminiscent of organic-rich sedimentary rock found on Earth. Most methane on Earth is produced by biological sources, but numerous abiotic processes have been proposed to explain Martian methane. Webster et al. report atmospheric measurements of methane covering 3 Martian years and found that the background level varies with the local seasons. The seasonal variation provides an important clue for determining the origin of Martian methane.

Read more: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/360/6393/1096


Environment and host as large-scale controls of ectomycorrhizal fungi

Explaining the large-scale diversity of soil organisms that drive biogeochemical processes—and their responses to environmental change—is critical. However, identifying consistent drivers of belowground diversity and abundance for some soil organisms at large spatial scales remains problematic. Here we investigate a major guild, the ectomycorrhizal fungi, across European forests at a spatial scale and resolution that is—to our knowledge—unprecedented, to explore key biotic and abiotic predictors of ectomycorrhizal diversity and to identify dominant responses and thresholds for change across complex environmental gradients. We show the effect of 38 host, environment, climate and geographical variables on ectomycorrhizal diversity, and define thresholds of community change for key variables. We quantify host specificity and reveal plasticity in functional traits involved in soil foraging across gradients. We conclude that environmental and host factors explain most of the variation in ectomycorrhizal diversity that the environmental thresholds used as major ecosystem assessment tools need adjustment and that the importance of belowground specificity and plasticity has previously been underappreciated.

Read more: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0189-9


Conferences, Meetings and Workshops


Preventing and Remediating Degradation of Soils in Europe – RECARE Final Policy Conference

27 September 2018, Brussels, Belgium. Despite the wide recognition of the importance of soils, soil protection efforts in European Union have been partial, fragmented and insufficient to halt their degradation. Calls for improving this situation have increasingly come from scientists, policymakers, non-governmental organisations and citizens. The discussions and negotiations around the design of European policies for post-2020 period offer the opportunity to improve the current situation.

Website: https://www.recare-hub.eu/tools-and-outputs/final-policy-conference
Registration: http://registration.ecologic-events.eu/recare-policy-conference


International Conference Contaminated Sites 2018

8 – 10 October 2018, Banská Bystrica, Slovak Republic.

Deadline for abstract submission: 30 July 2018. Contaminated sites have become one of the most serious environmental issues facing the European Union and involving enormous financial and social implications. The conference aims to provide a wide space for discussion, knowledge exchange among experts from government and non-government organizations, public and private sector, praxis, science and academic sector.

Download 1st Circular: https://www.iuss.org/media/cirkular_1_2018.pdf
Read more: http://contaminated-sites.sazp.sk/


International Soil Modelling Consortium Conference

5-7 November, 2018, Wageningen. Seven sessions highlight the advances in soil modelling during the ISMC Conference 2018. The deadline for submission of abstracts in one of the 7 sessions is 15 June.

Read more: https://soil-modeling.org/ismc-conference/ismc-conference


Australian National Soils Conference 2018

18 – 23 November 2018, Canberra, Australia. SOIL: The key to the Past, the Present and the Future. If the world’s soil resources are to meet future human needs we must plan for and adapt to changes. To achieve greater sustainability of soil resources we need to explore the lessons of the past, reflect on the present and develop concrete plans and goals for the future.
Abstract submission deadline: 18 June

Read more: http://www.soilscienceconference.org.au



SSA International Soils Meeting “Soils Across Latitudes”

January 6-9, 2019, San Diego, California, USA.

collaboration with other North American Soil Science Societies, The Soil Science Society of America will host scientists, professionals, educators, and students at the SSSA International Soils Meeting. “Soils Across Latitudes” will be held Jan. 6-9, 2019, in San Diego, California in collaboration with the Canadian Society of Soil Science and the Mexican Society of Soil Science.

Website: https://www.sacmeetings.org/


LuWQ2019 — 4th International Interdisciplinary Conference on LAND USE AND WATER QUALITY: Agriculture and the Environment

June 3-6, 2019, Aarhus, Denmark. A conference on the cutting edge of science, management and policy to minimise effects of agriculture and land use changes on the quality of groundwater and surface waters. Target groups (professionals, fields of expertise, audience) are scientists, managers and policy makers involved in the policy cycle for water quality improvement.

Abstract submission deadline: 15 October 2018

Read more: http://www.luwq2019.dk


New publications

Field to Palette: Dialogues on Soil and Art in the Anthropocene

Edited by Alexandra Toland, Jay Stratton Noller and Gerd Wessolek. (Forthcoming by CRC Press, October 2018).

Field to Palette: Dialogues on Soil and Art in the Anthropocene is an investigation of the cultural meanings, representations, and values of soil in a time of planetary change. In addition to full color images of artworks, the book weaves together different disciplinary perspectives in a collection of dialogue texts between artists and scientists, interviews by the editors and invited curators, essays by earth scientists and humanities scholars, soil recipes, maps, and DIY experiments. With contributions from over 100 internationally renowned researchers and practitioners, Field to Palette presents a set of visual methodologies and worldviews that expand our understanding of soil and encourage readers to develop their own creative interpretations of the ground beneath our feet.

The title of the book, Field to Palette, honours grassroots social organizing and locally controlled food production methods championed by “field to plate” movements worldwide. It is also a call to action for increased interdisciplinary collaboration between the fields of agriculture and geosciences and the arts and humanities. Framed within the larger discourse of the Anthropocene, the book critically reflects upon some of the most challenging environmental problems of our time, including land take, groundwater pollution, desertification, and biodiversity loss. It is at the same time a celebration of earthy resilience in the face of such challenges. By bringing together a chorus of seemingly disparate voices, new insight on the material properties, cultural histories, and ecological and social functions of the soil emerge.


Global Soil Organic Carbon Map (GSOCmap)

By the Global Soil Partnership. Published in 2018 by FAO, Rome, Italy. 167 pages, ISBN: 978-92-5-130439-6, the book can be downloaded for free from the FAO website (see link below).

GSOCmap is the first global soil organic carbon map ever produced through a consultative and participatory process involving member countries, which makes this map totally new and unique. In fact, the map was prepared by member countries, under the guidance of the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils and the Global Soil Partnership Secretariat. Countries agreed on the methodology to produce the map and were trained on modern tools and methodologies to develop national maps. The Global Soil Partnership then gathered all national maps to produce the final product, ensuring a thorough harmonization process.

This technical report is a companion report to the GSOCmap V1.2.0. It presents methodologies and process of compiling the Global Soil organic Carbon Map.

Read more: http://www.fao.org/documents/card/en/c/I8891EN


Soil Organic Carbon Mapping Cookbook 2nd Edition

By FAO / Global Soil Partnership. Published in 2018 by FAO, Rome, Italy. 200 pages, ISBN: 978-92-5-130440-2, the book can be downloaded for free from the FAO website (see link below).

The Soil Organic Carbon Mapping cookbook provides a step-by-step guidance for developing 1 km grids for soil carbon stocks. It includes the preparation of local soil data, the compilation and pre-processing of ancillary spatial data sets, upscaling methodologies, and uncertainty assessments. Guidance is mainly specific to soil carbon data, but also contains many generic sections on soil grid development, as it is relevant for other soil properties.
This second edition of the cookbook provides generic methodologies and technical steps to produce SOC maps and has been updated with knowledge and practical experiences gained during the implementation process of GSOCmap V1.0 throughout 2017. Guidance is mainly specific to SOC data, but as this cookbook contains generic sections on soil grid development it can be applicable to map various soil properties.

Read more: http://www.fao.org/documents/card/en/c/I8895EN/


Soil pollution: a hidden reality

By FAO. Published in 2018 by FAO, Rome, Italy. 156 pages, ISBN: 978-92-5-130505-8, the book can be downloaded for free from the FAO website (see link below).
This document presents key messages and the state-of-the-art of soil pollution, its implications on food safety and human health. The publication has been reviewed by the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soil (ITPS) and contributing authors. It addresses scientific evidences on soil pollution and highlights the need to assess the extent of soil pollution globally in order to achieve food safety and sustainable development. This is linked to FAO’s strategic objectives (SO), especially SO1, SO2, SO4 and SO5 because of the crucial role of soils to ensure effective nutrient cycling to produce nutritious and safe food, reduce atmospheric CO2 and N2O concentrations and thus mitigate climate change, develop sustainable soil management practices that enhance agricultural resilience to extreme climate events by reducing soil degradation processes.

Read more: http://www.fao.org/documents/card/en/c/I9183EN

This document will be a reference material for those interested in learning more about sources and effects of soil pollution.


Our land 2018 at a glance

Published jointly by the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ in the series New Zealand’s Environmental Reporting in April 2018. The report can be downloaded for free (see link below).

This is the first report focused solely on land in the environmental reporting series begun in 2015. Our land 2018 reports on the state of the soil, and the state of indigenous biodiversity and ecosystems. The aim is to provide an overview of condition, and changes over time, to support decision-making at all levels of society.

Read more: http://www.mfe.govt.nz/sites/default/media/media/Environmental%20reporting/Our-land-2018-at-a-glance-final.pdf


Soil and water resources protection in the changing environment

Zlatić/Kostadinov (Eds.), Advances in Geoecology Volume 45, Published by Schweizerbart in 2018, 334 pages, 131 figures, 92 tables, ISBN 978-3-510-65418-5 (US-ISBN: 1-59326-267-1), price hardback: 119.00 €.

This book contains a selection of peer-reviewed contributions to the 3rd Conference of the World Association of Soil and Water Conservation (WASWAC), held in Belgrade in Serbia, August 22-26, 2016. The keynote paper documents the current status of soil erosion in Europe in view of a changing climate (Chapter I). Nine papers are devoted to “Mechanisms and Processes of Land degradation” (Chapter II), covering models, measurement and rates in various parts of the world.

The volume is of particular interest for all readers involved in resp. interested in soil, landscape and water resources protection and the role climate change and legislative processes play. It offers analysis, facts, new data, suggestions and portrays the current state of recommendations on soil and water resources issues, which are crucial elements in the functioning of environment.

Read more: https://www.schweizerbart.de/publications/detail/isbn/9783510654185

IUSS Alerts are e-mailed to people in over 100 countries. Please forward the IUSS Alerts to your friends and colleagues. Send information for IUSS Alerts to iuss@umweltbundesamt.at
If you would like to receive the monthly IUSS Alert by email, please subscribe here https://www.iuss.org/index.php?article_id=685

The IUSS is on LinkedIn and Facebook