Taking care of soils since 1924
IUSS Alert 184 (October 2020)

IUSS Alert 184 (October 2020)


Outcome of 2020 IUSS Presidential Election

Edoardo Antonio Costantino Costantini from Italy, current Secretary of the European Society for Soil Conservation, received a clear majority of the votes and was the successful candidate in this election. He will take up the position of President-Elect on 1st January, 2021. He will be the first Italian President in the history of IUSS and will celebrate with us the Centennial in Italy in 2024.

Let us congratulate him on this success!

IUSS was very pleased to have two strong candidates running for the position.

If you want to know more about both candidates, please click here: https://www.iuss.org/about-the-iuss/iuss-presidential-election/


IUSS Bulletin 137 – urgent call for contributions

The IUSS Secretariat (iuss@umweltbundesamt.at) kindly invites all IUSS members to submit their contributions for our next IUSS Bulletin 137 (to be published in December 2020) no later than 15 November 2020. In particular, the Secretariat would welcome conference/meeting reports and reports on activities dedicated to the International Decade of Soils (2015-2024), your three favourite soil science books and any other information you would like to share with the international soil science community. Also we would like to give room to national soil science societies to present their recent activities. Please make sure to send high-resolution photos only together with the copyright information (owner of the photos).


IUSS – FAO-GSP Children’s book contest on Soil Biodiversity – last call

IUSS and FAO-GSP launch together a scientific children’s book contest on Soil Biodiversity in the framework of WSD 2020. The motto is “Keep soil alive, protect soil biodiversity”. FAO, IUSS and GSP invite all those interested in soil and biodiversity – soil scientists, researchers, professors, teachers, classrooms, individual students, soil practitioners, designers, photographers or experts from any professional background – to submit their freestyle book proposal by 10 November 2020. In the submission email, author(s) must fill out and submit the mandatory Registration form.

The winner will receive a cash prize of 1,000 USD, second and third prize will receive a cash prize of 500 USD and 250 USD respectively from IUSS and FAO’s GSP. The winners will be announced on World Soil Day, 5 December 2020.

Read more: https://www.iuss.org/international-decade-of-soils/

Flyer: https://www.iuss.org/media/gsp_iuss_booklet_contest.jpg


Latest news on Inter-Congress Meeting

The IUSS Inter-Congress Meeting will take place virtually (instead of a physical meeting in Glasgow, Scotland, which had been planned for September 2020) 18-23 November 2020. It will comprise three sessions each of both the Executive Committee Meeting and the IUSS Council Meeting as well as one Research Forum Meeting.

Main topics will be the preparation of the 22nd World Congress of Soil Science (WCSS22, August 2022 in Glasgow, Scotland) and discussion of current and future activities of IUSS Divisions, Commissions and Working Groups.


News from the IUSS Working Group WRB

For our students, we made a video explaining soil description according to the FAO Guidelines and classification according to WRB.

Read more: https://www.boku.wzw.tum.de/index.php?id=wrb-teaching-material&L=0


General News

WASWAC Youth Outstanding Paper Award (DATUM) 2021 Open for Application

To encourage early-career scientists to contribute to soil and water conservation in the world, The World Association of Soil and Water Conservation (WASWAC) has held the WASWAC Youth Outstanding Paper Award three times since 2015. The fourth award in 2021 will be presented at the Third International Youth Forum on Soil and Water Conservation (IYFSWC), which will be held from May 16 to 21, 2021 in Iran (Tehran-Capital and Noor City on Caspian Sea Shore).  The application for the award is open from now.

This award will be presented to early-career scientists of outstanding research papers on soil and water conservation. The award consists of a Certificate from the WASWAC and a $1000 (USD) honorarium. In the case of multi-author papers, the award will be presented only to the first author. The WASWAC Youth Outstanding Paper Award (DATUM) 2021 is financially supported by the Beijing Datum Technology Company. 

Read more: http://iyfswc.modares.ac.ir/ or http://www.waswac.org/


Land and Soil Management Award 2020/21 – call now open

About the Award The prize (5,000 EUR) rewards land use and soil management practices mitigating soil threats i.e. soil degradation, erosion, reduction of organic matter content, diffuse contamination, and compaction as well as the reduction of soil biodiversity, salinization, sealing, flooding and landslides. In doing so, the award sheds light on outstanding achievements, encouraging new concepts of land and soil protection and their implementation in land management, as well as enhancing awareness about the importance of land and soil functions.

Who can apply? Farmers, landowners, land managers, groups of farmers, on their own or in collaboration with research institutes, universities and/or private companies.

Deadline: 31 December 2020

Read more and download the application form: https://www.europeanlandowners.org/awards/soil-land-award?mc_cid=037be4d8bd&mc_eid=ddef1af97b


News from the International Science Council (ISC)

Share with us your grey literature on freedom and responsibility in science

The ISC Advisory Committee for Freedom and Responsibility in Science (CFRS) has initiated the project “Freedom and responsibility in the 21st century: a contemporary perspective of the responsible practice of science” to examine a contemporary meaning and interpretation of freedom and responsibility of science. As part of the project, CFRS members will aim to develop an overview to track the recent evolution of notions of scientific freedom and the responsible practice of science, indicating that scientists have been concerned about this for many years, and that their conclusions have changed over the last decades reflecting the evolution of society.

In the frame of this project, the CFRS is seeking contributions from ISC members regarding grey literature documents, including organizational statements, policies, reviews, (non-academic) articles as well as historical documents looking at the organizations’ and disciplinary societies’ views of freedom and responsibility in science since the post-World War II period.

Please send your contributions to Vivi Stavrou (CFRS Executive Secretary): vivi.stavrou@council.science and feel free to share this request with your members and wider networks.

Read more: https://council.science/actionplan/defending-the-free-and-responsible-practice-of-science/


Measuring greenhouse gases starts in soil

Carbon dioxide dominates the greenhouse gas (GHG) story planet-wide. But did you know there is a more potent GHG you probably haven’t heard about? It’s nitrous oxide (N2O), agriculture’s quiet but formidable contribution to climate concerns. N2O represents only seven percent of all GHG emissions, rendering it a minor player compared to CO2 and methane. But N2O has significant, lesser-known, implications. In the atmosphere, N2O absorbs (and radiates) more energy than other gases and can linger for decades, according to the EPA. It’s not just an atmospheric sweater, but an electric blanket above us.

Read more: https://cals.ncsu.edu/news/measuring-greenhouse-gases-starts-in-soil/

[From: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Science Policy Report: 14 October 2020]


Release of the LUCAS Soil 2015 data from ESDAC

The European Commission Joint Research Centre is pleased to announce the release of the soil dataset based on samples collected during the 2015 LUCAS Survey (LUCAS Soil 2015). LUCAS Soil provides harmonised data for the entire territory of the European Union (EU), addressing all major land cover types simultaneously, in a single sampling period (April – October 2015), using a standard sampling protocol and a single laboratory for analysis.

Data are presented for 21,859 locations across all EU Member States and cover 90% of the locations where soil samples were taken in 2009 and 2012 (only Romania and Bulgaria). The remaining 10% were substituted by new locations in each country, new territories, and points above 1,000 m elevation. In addition to the parameters analysed in 2009 and 2012, electrical conductivity has been added to measure salt content in soils.

Date can be requested here: https://esdac.jrc.ec.europa.eu/content/lucas2015-topsoil-data

Read more: https://esdac.jrc.ec.europa.eu/projects/lucas


GSBI joins European Commission’s Global Coalition for Biodiversity

The Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative voices support for biodiversity and joins the EC’s Global Coalition for Biodiversity. Launched in March 2020, the Coalition calls on museums, parks, and research institutions to join forces in raising an alarm about the nature crisis.

Press release: https://files.constantcontact.com/a3128908401/21d594ee-b94d-4d48-ab55-7069c829c8e8.pdf

[From GSBI Newsletter – October 2020]


Read the New Posts in the GSBI Blog Beneath Our Feet

Belowground productivity accounts for 46% of total terrestrial C fixation, by Dr. Laureano Gherardi, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, USA. Read more: https://www.globalsoilbiodiversity.org/blog-beneath-our-feet/2020/9/25/belowground-productivity-accounts-for-46-of-total-terrestrial-c-fixation [From GSBI Newsletter – October 2020]


It’s alive! Soil is much more than you think.

Soil biodiversity: the foundation for human life

Soils are a major reservoir of global biodiversity, supporting agriculture and food security, regulating greenhouse gas emissions and promoting plant, animal and human health. Without them, our daily routine wouldn’t be the same. But soil biodiversity is under constant threat. Unsustainable farming practices, the effects of climate change and soil pollution are just a few of the things that can adversely affect the health and biodiversity of our soils.

Read more: http://www.fao.org/fao-stories/article/en/c/1263004/

[From The Global Soil Partnership Newsletter No. 29, 30 September 2020]


Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils

The Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS) is composed of 27 high-level soil experts representing all the regions of the world. ITPS members provide scientific and technical advice and guidance to the GSP on global soil issues and advocate the inclusion of sustainable soil management in the different sustainable development agendas. With the aim of sharing its position about different soil topics or issues, the ITPS created the ITPS Soil Letters as a wide channel of dissemination. In its first issue of September 2020, the ITPS defines the concept of “soil health”.

Read the first issue: http://www.fao.org/3/cb1110en/cb1110en.pdf

[From The Global Soil Partnership Newsletter No. 29, 30 September 2020]


Soil: the great connector of our lives now and beyond COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is testing the ability of societies to survive an extreme global situation. The Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils shares its understanding of the crucial role played by Soils and Sustainable Soil Management in the new global reality. Appropriate soil management is imperative for solving and anticipating food security and nutrition requirements that governments and individuals will face in the post-pandemic world.

Read more: http://www.fao.org/global-soil-partnership/resources/highlights/detail/en/c/1298070/

[From The Global Soil Partnership Newsletter No. 29, 30 September 2020]



How sustainable soil management can improve the nutritional quality of food.

Through a 3-year project initiative, funded by the government of Germany, FAO’s Global Soil Partnership is promoting Sustainable Soil Management (SSM) practices to improve the nutritional quality of locally-produced food. The project has set up pilot sites in Bangladesh, Burkina Faso and Malawi to test and demonstrate the effects of SSM practices on micronutrient contents in the edible parts of crops.

Read more: http://www.fao.org/global-soil-partnership/resources/highlights/detail/en/c/1305568/

[From The Global Soil Partnership Newsletter No. 29, 30 September 2020]


WORLD SOIL DAY Campaign – 5 December 2020

World Soil Day 2020 (#WorldSoilDay) and its campaign “Keep soil alive, Protect soil biodiversity” aims to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being by addressing the growing challenges in soil management, fighting soil biodiversity loss, increasing soil awareness and encouraging governments, organizations, communities and individuals around the world to commit to proactively improving soil health.

Read more: http://www.fao.org/world-soil-day/en/

[From The Global Soil Partnership Newsletter No. 29, 30 September 2020]


SOC sequestration potential map

With the release of the Technical specification and country guidelines, the development of the Global Soil Organic Carbon Sequestration Potential Map has started. The GSOCseq simulates SOC stocks over a 20–year period in agricultural lands and quantify sequestration potential.

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

[From The Global Soil Partnership Newsletter No. 29, 30 September 2020]


GLOSOLAN Spectroscopy plenary meeting

23-25 September 2020

After the launch of the initiative on soil spectroscopy by the Global Soil Laboratory Network (GLOSOLAN) of the Global Soil Partnership in April 2020, GLOSOLAN organized its first plenary meeting on soil spectroscopy from 23 to 25 September 2020. The meeting was attended by 350 participants from 63 countries, including leading institutions and organizations in the field of soil spectroscopy.

Read more: http://www.fao.org/global-soil-partnership/resources/highlights/detail/en/c/1310301/

[From The Global Soil Partnership Newsletter No. 29, 30 September 2020]


Nanoclay: the liquid turning desert to farmland

Inspired by the secret to the Nile Delta’s fertility, engineers are using a concoction of clay, water and local soils to grow fruits in the desert.

Read more: https://www.bbc.com/future/bespoke/follow-the-food/the-spray-that-turns-deserts-into-farmland.html?fbclid=IwAR0vuKftYZVPay4qfBeTqmJARmO6OsFTZxnGys6oJiYXF5Ump8JOOINt39E


Conferences, Meetings and Workshops

The outbreak of the Corona virus is clearly a rapidly evolving situation. The organizers of the meetings listed below are constantly reviewing the situation in the light of global and country-specific advice to inform decisions to minimize the additional risks to attendees, their communities and those living in the meeting’s host country.

The IUSS will also continue to monitor the situation, and advise that prior to attending meetings our members review up to date information from their country’s government, the WHO and from the host country to ensure that everyone’s health and wellbeing remains a priority.


AgroEco2020 – 3rd International Scientific Virtual Conference

AGROECOSYSTEM SUSTAINABILITY: Links between Carbon Sequestration in Soils, Food Security and Climate Change’

December 2–3, 2020, Vytautas Magnus University Agriculture Academy, Lithuania, semi-virtual

The discussions will be held in following sessions:

– Soil health and C sequestration for sustainability
– Soil and crop management towards a chemical pesticide-free agriculture
– Biodiversity, crop and production diversification
– Precision farming and digital technologies
– Food quality and safety
– The role of circular bioeconomy in climate change mitigation

Early registration until October 31, 2020

Conference website: http://agroeco.vdu.lt/



Global Symposium on Soil Biodiversity

2-5 February 2021, digital edition

The Global Symposium on Soil Biodiversity will follow a virtual format from 2 to 5 February 2021. The 1st and 4th day will be devoted to panel discussions, while abstract presenters will have the floor on the 2nd and 3rd days. High-level panelists are expected to join this new digital edition.

Read more: http://www.fao.org/about/meetings/soil-biodiversity-symposium/en/

[From The Global Soil Partnership Newsletter No. 29, 30 September 2020]


Changes to previously announced conferences, meetings and workshops


The Third Global Soil Biodiversity Conference

1-3 November 2021, Dublin, Ireland

!Postponed to March 2023!

Website: http://gsb2021.ie/


For the complete list of upcoming events, please see the event calendar on the IUSS website: https://www.iuss.org/meetings-events/


New publications

Handbook of Bioremediation: Physiological, Molecular and Biotechnological Interventions

Edited by Mirza Hasanuzzaman and Majeti Narasimha Vara Prasad. 1st Edition published on 19 October 2020 by Elsevier. 764 pages, Paperback ISBN: 9780128193822, eBook ISBN: 9780128193839, price paperback: EUR 196.35, eBook: EUR 196.35, Bundle: EUR 242.00.

The tome discusses the mechanisms of responding to inorganic and organic pollutants in the environment using different approaches of phytoremediation and bioremediation. Part One focuses specifically on inorganic pollutants and the use of techniques such as metallothionein-assisted remediation, phytoextraction and genetic manipulation. Part Two covers organic pollutants and consider topics such as plant enzymes, antioxidant defense systems and the remediation mechanisms of different plant species. This comprehensive volume is a must-read for researchers interested in plant science, agriculture, soil science and environmental science.

The techniques covered in this book will ensure scientists have the knowledge to practice effective bioremediation techniques themselves.

Read more: https://www.elsevier.com/books/handbook-of-bioremediation/hasanuzzaman/978-0-12-819382-2


Rethinking Food and Agriculture – New Ways Forward

Edited by Amir Kassam Laila Kassam. 1st Edition published in October 2020 by Elsevier, 476 pages, Paperback ISBN: 9780128164105, eBook ISBN: 9780128164112, price paperback: EUR 169.58, price eBook: EUR 169.58, Bundle: EUR 209.00.

Given the central role of the food and agriculture system in driving so many of the connected ecological, social and economic threats and challenges we currently face, Rethinking Food and Agriculture reviews, reassesses and reimagines the current food and agriculture system and the narrow paradigm in which it operates.

Rethinking Food and Agriculture explores and uncovers some of the key historical, ethical, economic, social, cultural, political, and structural drivers and root causes of unsustainability, degradation of the agricultural environment, destruction of nature, short-comings in science and knowledge systems, inequality, hunger and food insecurity, and disharmony. It reviews efforts towards ‘sustainable development’, and reassesses whether these efforts have been implemented with adequate responsibility, acceptable societal and environmental costs and optimal engagement to secure sustainability, equity and justice. The book highlights the many ways that farmers and their communities, civil society groups, social movements, development experts, scientists and others have been raising awareness of these issues, implementing solutions and forging ‘new ways forward’, for example towards paradigms of agriculture, natural resource management and human nutrition which are more sustainable and just.

Read more: https://www.elsevier.com/books/rethinking-food-and-agriculture/kassam/978-0-12-816410-5


LUCAS 2015 Topsoil Survey – presentation of dataset and results

This report accompanies the release of the LUCAS 2015 soil dataset. It presents an overview of the laboratory analysis data and provides a detailed description of the results for the EU-28 territory. The report describes the spatial variability of soil properties by land cover (LC) class and a comparative analysis of the soil properties by NUTS 2 regions.  The LUCAS Soil Module is the only mechanism that currently provides a harmonised and regular collection of soil data for the entire territory of the European Union (EU). Regular monitoring provides a unique perspective on pressures affecting soils. LUCAS Soil supports the specific needs of the European Commission by collecting data that characterises soil condition and health.

Read more: https://esdac.jrc.ec.europa.eu/public_path/shared_folder/dataset/66/JRC121325_lucas_2015_topsoil_survey_final_1.pdf


Assessment of changes in topsoil properties in LUCAS samples between 2009/2012 and 2015 surveys

In this report, we provide a detailed evaluation of the LUCAS topsoil sampling and the laboratory analysis. We also assess changes in topsoil properties between LUCAS 2009/2012 and 2015 surveys based on data of paired samples (i.e. samples collected in revisited LUCAS soil points in 2009/2012 and in 2015). The ultimate goal of this report is to assess the efficacy of the LUCAS Topsoil Module for the early detection of changes in soil conditions, since this is a primary objective for scientific and policy organizations to improve their policies for a sustainable land use and management.

Read more: https://esdac.jrc.ec.europa.eu/public_path/shared_folder/dataset/66/JRC120138_lucas_changes_09-15_-_final_1.pdf


CO2 certificates for carbon sequestration in soils: methods, management practices and limitations

By Wiesmeier, M., Mayer, S., Paul, C. , Helming, K., Don, A. , Franko, U., Steffens, M., Kögel-Knabner, I.; Published in October 2020 in the BonaRes Series. DOI: 10.20387/bonares-ne0g-ce98

Agricultural soils have a great potential for carbon (C) sequestration due to the build-up of soil organic matter (SOM), which consists of about 58% C. Positive efforts in SOM management could therefore make a significant contribution to climate protection. For farmers, CO2 certificates for the build-up of soil organic carbon (SOC) represent an additional incentive to implement SOM-enhancing management measures. These CO2 certificates are issued by private initiatives and companies in the voluntary CO2 market. Especially in the field of agriculture, certificate trading for sequestered C in agricultural soils is currently growing in the German-speaking countries. In order to contribute to climate protection, certain criteria must be met when issuing certificates. In practice, however, minimum scientific standards have so far been given little consideration. In this study, recommendations are given regarding the quantification of SOC (sampling, analytics, SOC stock calculation), an evaluation of agricultural practices for C sequestration, as well as information on general limitations regarding climate protection via CO2 certificates. Generally, CO2-certificates can give a positive impulse for farmers to deal with sustainable cultivation and SOM supply of their soils. Since SOM is a key property for many soil functions and not least soil fertility, every effort to increase SOM is important. Farmers who are interested in building up SOC should therefore receive comprehensive support and advice on site-specific and farm-specific options for the sequestration of C in their soils.

Read more: https://tools.bonares.de/doi/doc/29/



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