Taking care of soils since 1924
IUSS Alert 168 (June 2019)

IUSS Alert 168 (June 2019)


IUSS Twitter account

Now, the International Union of Soil Sciences has an Official Twitter Account. We invite you to follow us at the address @IUSS_ORG, to promote all our official activities and remain in touch with the Soil Science Scientists community worldwide.
Twitter messages have included news about the 95th anniversary of the foundation of IUSS; the first Massive Open Online Course on Tropical Soil Science which went online on the prestigious EdX online learning platform on May 13, 2019; an announcement of the “Soilutions” poster contest to address soil problems, and the IUSS book Global Soil Proverbs – Cultural Language of the soil.


General News

Georges PÉDRO (1929-2018) – French Soil Science has lost one of its most prestigious members

Georges Pédro died on January 31st 2019. He was born on June 26th 1929. He had just published his last scientific study Surface Cover of the Earth’s Continental Areas (ed. AFES, 2018).

Georges Pédro is internationally renowned for his work on clay minerology and geochemical weathering processes. He was a Research Director at the INRA (France’s national institute for agronomic research) and played a vital role in France in the field of Pedology. Amongst others, he was president of the Orstom-IRD’s “Commission scientifique d’Hydrologie et Pédologie” (1984) (Scientific Commission for Hydrology and Pedology) and supervised and co-supervised numerous Orstom PhDs. It was his own exceptional thesis on experimental pedology that made him famous throughout the world: he experimentally modelled the principal global processes of soil weathering in the laboratory.

He was a remarkable teacher (1965-1995) and numerous soil scientists attended his DEA lessons in Pedology and continued on to PhD with him. Georges Pédro was a member of both the Academy of Science and the Academy of Agriculture. He received the CNRS (France’s National Research Centre) silver medal in 1980 and was Officer of the French Legion of Honour. He was not only an exceptional scientist but also a great humanist, historian and a highly cultured and sensitive man. He took time for people. Many of us, his colleagues, feel that we have lost a great friend.

[By Christian Feller and Michel Brossard, past president and current president AFES]


Call for experts on soil biodiversity

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Global Soil Partnership (GSP), the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative and the European Commission are pleased to launch a call for experts for the establishment of a Working Group to develop a global and regional assessment of the state of knowledge on soil biodiversity.

The assessment will cover the current status of soil biodiversity, as well as opportunities and challenges to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals. The call for expert is addressed to technical experts from governments, scientists and researchers, NGOs, policy makers at all levels, members of existing initiatives, and any other relevant stakeholder.

If you are interested in joining this working group, please send an email to Ms. Monica Kobayashi, copying the Global Soil Partnership Secretariat by the 28 June 2019.

Read more: http://www.fao.org/global-soil-partnership/resources/highlights/detail/en/c/1196842/


How are microplastics changing agricultural crops?

Invisible but pervasive, microplastics are washed into oceans and blown through the air. Now, scientists have uncovered that microplastics change agricultural crop growth. Agricultural soils could actually hold more microplastic than ocean basins. A new study explores the impact of microplastics on terrestrial systems, specifically agriculture. The researchers were interested in changes in the soil, microbes and plants exposed to microplastics. Pervasive microplastic contamination in soil may have consequences for plant performance, and thus for agroecosystems and terrestrial biodiversity.

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/linhanhcat/2019/05/01/microplastics-changing-agricultural-crops/#7618312946d2

[From: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Science Policy Report, 29 May 2019]


Pesticide sorption properties plays a role in leaching even in frozen soils

Studies indicate that solute sorption properties are less important when preferential flow is the dominating transport pathway. There is evidence that pesticides leach through partially frozen soil during winter and early spring and that preferential flow through macropores may be the cause of this. The effect of freezing on the transport of pesticides with different sorption properties has not been investigated before. In the current issue of the Vadose Zone Journal, researchers report on a study where the effect of freezing on the transport of pesticides with a range of soil sorption coefficients was investigated.

Read more: https://dl.sciencesocieties.org/publications/csa/articles/0/0/csa2019.64.S015

[From: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Science Policy Report, 29 May 2019]


Stop soil erosion now or face starvation soon, scientists warn

The world’s food production is in jeopardy because the fertile layer of soil that people depend on to plant crops is being eroded by human activities, scientists said recently. Climate change is likely to make it worse even as demand from a grown population is soaring, they said. Soil erosion happens naturally, but intensive agriculture, deforestation, mining and urban sprawl accelerate it and can reduce crop yields by up to 50%, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Read more: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-global-food-soils/stop-soil-erosion-now-or-face-starvation-soon-scientists-warn-idUSKCN1SL2Q5

[From: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Science Policy Report, 29 May 2019]


FAO Film: Stop Soil Erosion, keep soil where it belongs!

Soil erosion poses a major threat to global food security and to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Find out more about the effects of soil erosion and the ways we can prevent it.

Read more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSbbl5lpmik&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR0zRJZKddB_UTx1ar8kj6ua1P1tLLRhHZAnturJ1Lx-NArsPz5zV1zFm5k


FAO Film: Stop Soil Erosion, Save our Future: True or False

On the spot interviews to participants of the Global Symposium on Soil Erosion (GSER 19), 5 May 2019, FAO headquarters, Rome, Italy

Read more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ad5ABAWsYo&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR1kIY4qN6DjDqNEPwHXxS5-IFBxTaaon8U_bdqAg0slCD99zPeiETmZtiM


No laughing matter

The warming Arctic permafrost may be releasing more nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas, than previously thought

Read more: https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2019/06/harvard-chemist-permafrost-n2o-levels-12-times-higher-than-expected/?fbclid=IwAR0JTIcS8rqrDqoCSHT7iVE_d8Pxq3O8MzVUkR04XyEcOxyg5sacEKfxqzU


Artist Asad Raza cultivates soil and community in Kaldor Public Art Project Absorption

Raza worked with scientists, including soil expert Alex McBratney from University of Sydney, to “find a way to use the compounds from society and industrial activity, and recombine [them] for the product to actually be used again as soil for people to take away at the end of the project”.

Read more: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-05-10/kaldor-public-art-project-asad-raza-absorption-soil-dirt/11096070?pfmredir=sm&fbclid=IwAR1wwJtV4hJ6KNiPZVzCZzKzTtSQHyYQOUQzfIVKDjzVxiBnioFDydvMXp0


Conferences, Meetings and Workshops


Soil Conservation Day 2019

Let’s not compromise the future, let’s keep the soil

11 July 2019, Balcarce, Provincia de Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Integrated Unit of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences-INTA Balcarce, the Argentine Association of Soil Science (AACS), the College of Agronomists and Foresters of Buenos Aires and the Association of Agronomists of Balcarce invite to the Soil Conservation Workshop.

Registration and programme: http://bit.ly/inscripcion_jornada
Download the programme: 


Summer Soil ID Course organised by the Pacific Regional Society of Soil Science (PRSSS)

Each year, this three-day soil identification course is held in a different region of British Columbia, Canada. The course is open to soil professionals, students, and anyone with a passion for soil! Participants learn how to texture a soil, dig soil pits, and receive an introduction to soil classification and formation. This year’s dates are yet to be defined, but visit our website for more information or become a member to receive our newsletter updates.

The PRSSS 2019 Soil ID Field Course will take place in Osoyoos, BC on August 6 – 8, 2019.

Read more: http://www.prsss.ca/summer-soil-course/


WETSCAPES Conference – Understanding the ecology of restored fen peatlands for protection and sustainable use

10-13 September 2019, Rostock, Germany. Peatlands cover only 3 % of the land surface worldwide but with some 450 gigatonnes of carbon they contain substantially more than the carbon stock in the entire forest biomass of the world. Thus, peatlands are the most effective terrestrial carbon stock on our globe. A mosaic of paludiculturally used peatlands with peatlands restored primarily for nature conservation purposes is the future multifunctional and sustainable peatland landscape – the vision of ‘WETSCAPES’. In WETSCAPES, in contrast to past land use approaches, the water is kept in the landscape, thus facilitating carbon storage, nutrient retention, climate regulation, and habitat function.

Read more: https://www.wetscapes.de/conference/

Download the preliminary programme: https://www.iuss.org/meetings-events/


Soil and Plant System Sciences (SPSS 2019)

Natural and Human-induced Impacts on the Critical Zone and Food Production

23-26 September, 2019, Bari, Italy. On behalf of the Local and Scientific Committees, we are glad to invite you to the First Joint Meeting on Soil and Plant System Sciences (SPSS 2019) organized by the Italian Society of Agricultural Chemistry (SICA), the Italian Society of Pedology (SIPe) and the Italian Society of Soil Science (SISS), in collaboration with the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute (IAM) and the Italian Chapter of the International Humic Substances Society. The title of this meeting “Natural and Human-induced Impacts on the Critical Zone and Food Production” sets up the ambitious goal of integrating scientific backgrounds and topics, all focused on the “critical zone” (where soil and living organisms interact) but starting from differing theoretical perspectives and applied approaches. Physical, chemical and biological characteristics and processes will feed and nourish the diversity of experiences, opinions and scientific knowledge.

Abstract submission deadline: 30 June 2019

Read more: https://spss2019.azuleon.org/


3rd Intensive Training Course on Soil Micromorphology

30 September – 11 October 2019, Tremp (Lleida), Spain. This course will comprise lectures, exercises with thin sections provided by the lecturers and also with material brought by the participants and visits to a thin section lab. Both analogic and digital polarising microscopes will be available, with a maximum of 2 participants per microscope, as well as facilities to work with them during extra time and to discuss the participants own thin sections with lecturers and colleagues. A certificate issued by the University of Lleida, under the auspices of the International Soil Science Society and the Institut Cartogràfic i Geològic de Catalunya will be handled to the participants who attend a minimum hours of lectures.

Read more: http://www.cfc.udl.cat/fc/curso/2322

Contact: rosa.poch@macs.udl.cat


7th International Symposium on Soil Organic Matter: Soil Organic Matter in a Stressed World

6 – 11 October 2019, Adelaide, South Australia. It is of course this amorphous substance, SOM, that draws our interests together and affords us the privilege to invite you to the wonderful city of Adelaide, South Australia, where the 7th iteration of the International SOM Symposium Series will be held from 6th -11th October 2019. The conference follows the amazingly successful editions at Rothamsted Research, UK (2017), Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany (2015), and their four predecessors stretching back to the initiation of the series at Potiers, France, in 2007. It draws together a vibrant mix of established world experts, early and mid-career researchers, and students in order to share knowledge, make new connections, and advance the field of SOM research.

Early Bird Registration closes 30 August 2019

Read more: http://www.som2019.org


The Final Conference of Links4Soils – the Alpine Soil Forum

Oktober 14-16, 2019, Innsbruck, Austria. The Alpine Soil Forum offers a place to link knowledge with practice, experts with decision-makers, local challenges with Alpine and European strategies and scientific foundations with solutions for the future. The Alpine Soil Forum will be organized together with the Austrian Soil Forum and the Austrian Pedological Society.

Read more: https://www.iuss.org/media/alpinesoilforum-links4soils-aviso_en.pdf


Early Career Soil Modeling Workshop

Joint Early Career Researchers – Soil Science Networking Event

8 Dec 2019, San Francisco, USA. Coordination: ISMC – Division 2 IUSS Working Group. We invite Early Career Scientists (ECS) at PostDoc level for an ECS workshop to discuss how you address these recent challenges through ongoing research projects. After a short introduction, participants dissolve in groups of 4-5 people to identify and work on specific questions.

Contact email: r.baatz@fz-juelich.de

Read more: https://www.iuss.org/media/lsp_workshop_v01_1.pdf


4th Thünen Symposium on Soil Metagenomics – Understanding and Managing Soil Microbiomes

11 – 13 December 2019, Braunschweig, Germany. Tremendous progress has been made since high-throughput DNA sequencing technologies entered the field of soil microbiology, and the scientific community involved in soil omics studies is continuously growing. Continuing the legacy of the first three Thünen Symposia, we would like to provide the opportunity for participants to learn about the latest progress at the intersection of microbial bioinformatics and soil ecology. Key issues of the 4th Symposium relate to spatial organization of soil microbial communities and to the study of neglected groups, i.e. soil viruses and protists. The workshop flanking the symposium provides the opportunity to learn about techniques for metagenomic analyses and beyond (transcriptomes and proteome).

Deadline for abstract submission: Sept. 10, 2019

Preliminary Programme with Call for Abstract

Symposium website: www.soil-metagenomics.org

Further events: event calendar microbiology


New publications

Anthropogenic Soils in Japan

Edited by Makiko Watanabe and Masayuki Kawahigashi. Published in the Part of the International Perspectives in Geography book series (IPG) by Springer in June 2019, Print ISBN 978-981-13-1752-1, Online ISBN 978-981-13-1753-8, price e-book: EUR 101.14.

This book enhances the discussion of anthropized soils with photographs of soil profiles and provides general information about soils in Japan, using data on their physical and chemical properties. Soils targeted in this book have wide spectra in anthropized influences from lesser effects such as agricultural improvements to drastic changes caused by infrastructure construction. These include soils sealed by technic hard materials, on ski slopes, on river embankments and coastal berms, in historical urban parks, on man-made islands in Tokyo Bay, in reclaimed lands, in greenhouse fields, and those filling in swamplands.

The book includes information with new data produced by active researchers from many institutes and universities as it refers to soils altered by human activities and thus is informative to specialists in various disciplines related to soils. It is also valuable to students for viewing soils in cities, infrastructure construction areas, and other affected locations. Evaluation and understanding of soils now has become essential for researchers in a range of fields and for policy makers in agriculture as well as urban planning, civil engineering, and disaster sciences. This work serves as an impetus for launching further study of soils and environments.

Read more: https://www.springer.com/de/book/9789811317521


Simple Methods to Study Pedology and Edaphology of Indian Tropical Soils

By D. K. Pal. Published by Springer in June 2019. Print ISBN 978-3-319-89598-7, Online ISBN 978-3-319-89599-4; price e-book: EUR 91.62.

This book discusses how research efforts have established an organic link between pedology and edaphology of five pedogenetically important soil orders as Alfisols, Mollisols, Ultisols, Vertisols and Inceptisols of tropical Indian environments. The book highlights how this new knowledge was gained when research efforts were complemented by high resolution mineralogical, micro morphological and age-control tools. This advancement in basic and fundamental knowledge on Indian tropical soils makes it possible to develop several index soil properties as simple methods to study their pedology and edaphology.

More than one-third of the world’s soils are tropical soils. Thus the recent advances in developing simple and ingenuous methods to study pedology and edaphology of Indian tropical soils may also be adopted by both graduate students and young soil researchers to aid in the development of a national soil information system to enhance crop productivity and maintain soil health in the 21st century.

Read more: https://www.springer.com/de/book/9783319895987


Soil Fertility Management for Sustainable Development

Edited by Deepak G. Panpatte and Yogeshvari K. Jhala. Published by Springer in June 2019, Print ISBN 978-981-13-5903-3, Online ISBN 978-981-13-5904-0, price e-book: EUR 107.09

Soil fertility is the backbone of agricultural systems and plays a key role in determining food quantity and quality. In recent decades, soil fertility has decreased due to indiscriminate use of agrochemicals, and nations around the globe are now facing the challenge of increasing food production while sustainably maintaining soil fertility. Written by leading international scientists in the field, this book explores soil fertility management strategies, including agronomic, microbiological and soil-science based strategies. Highlighting the practices that can be incorporated into organic farming and discussing recent advances, it is a valuable resource for researchers wanting to broaden their vision and the scope of their investigations. 

Read more: https://www.springer.com/de/book/9789811359033


Soil Clays – Linking Geology, Biology, Agriculture, and the Environment, 1st Edition

By G. Jock Churchman, Bruce Velde, CRC Press, June 28, 2019, 258 pages, 27 Color Illus., 70 B/W Illus., Hardback:  ISBN 9781498770057, Price GBP 130,00.

This book aims to help improve predictions of important properties of soils through a modern understanding of their highly reactive clay minerals as they are formed and occur in soils worldwide. It examines how clays occur in soils and the role of soil clays in disparate applications including plant nutrition, soil structure, and water-holding capacity, soil quality, soil shrinkage and swelling, carbon sequestration, pollution control and remediation, medicine, forensic investigation, and deciphering human and environmental histories.

To know soil clays is to enable their use toward achieving improvements in the management of soils for enhancing their performance in one or more of their three main functions of enabling plant growth, regulating water flow to plants, and buffering environmental changes. This book provides an easily-read and extensively-illustrated description of the nature, formation, identification, occurrence and associations, measurement, reactivities, and applications of clays in soils.

Read more: https://www.routledge.com/Soil-Clays-Linking-Geology-Biology-Agriculture-and-the-Environment/Churchman-Velde/p/book/9781498770057


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