Taking care of soils since 1924
IUSS Alert 185 (November 2020)

IUSS Alert 185 (November 2020)


IUSS Inter-Congress Meeting

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

Main topics were the past and future activities of IUSS Presidents, Secretariat and Treasurer, Standing Committees, Divisions, Commissions and Working Groups as well as the Research Forum, internal and international matters of the IUSS, preparation of the 22nd World Congress of Soil Science (WCSS 2022 in Glasgow, Scotland), outlook to the Centennial in 2024 as well as the presentations of societies intending to bid for the WCSS in 2030.

Furthermore the election of the new Honorary members was carried out. The following scientist who provided distinctive contributions to soil science in general and the IUSS in particular were elected:

Jozef A. (Seppe) Deckers Belgium

Flavio Anastacio de Oliveira Camargo Brazil

Rainer Horn Germany

Carmelo Dazzi Italy

Kazuyuki Inubushi Japan

Kye-Hoon ‘John’ Kim Korea

Bal Ram Singh Norway

Pavel Krasilnikov Russia

Rosa M. Poch Claret Spain

Alfred Hartemink USA

Congratulations to these candidates on being awarded Honorary Membership of the International Union of Soil Sciences!


IUSS Stimulus fund

In 2015 IUSS established an annual Stimulus Fund to support suitable activities within the Commissions and Working Groups. Where appropriate, the Fund will also support other activities to assist the development of Soil Science generally but particularly in regions of the world where lack of resources limit opportunities. To this end, IUSS has set aside a sum of $15,000 annually, the normal maximum award being $2,500.

The initial application process requires a short written proposal of no more than 500 words plus a budget indicating how the funds awarded are to be spent. Each year, there are two submission dates: 15 March and 15 September.

Read more: https://www.iuss.org/about-the-iuss/iuss-stimulus-fund/

From the second round of submissions (deadline 15 September 2020), the IUSS decided to contribute to support four activities:

1) 3 awards for young scientists at 16th International Conference on Soil Micromorphology 2021 (ICoSM 2021), Kraków, Poland, August 29 to September 2, 2021

2) Support for travel expenses to CryoWiSt: Winter State of Cryosols, February-March, 2021 soil science field-class for 5 to 8 students

3) Financing because of financial losses due to Covid-19 to International Symposium and Field Workshop on Paleopedology, 8-18, August 2021

4) Support to website development of the IUSS Commission 1.1 Soil Morphology and Micromorphology

In total, 15,250 USD were approved from the IUSS Stimulus fund in 2020.


In 2021, there will again be two submission dates for applications: 15 March and 15 September. Applications should be sent to iuss@umweltbundesamt.at.


IUSS Viewpoint Fall 2020 : ‘Seizing the moment’

In this viewpoint, Prof. Rattan Lal, Past President of the International Union of Soil Sciences, points out that now is the time for soil scientists to seize the moment and work with policymakers for translating science into action for addressing issues of local, regional and global significance.

He encourages soil scientists to take action as policymakers are looking up to the soil science community for guidance on the theme of re-carbonization of the biosphere in general and world soils in particular with focus on farming carbon and its commoditization as a saleable farm commodity that can be traded in a market.

Read more: https://www.iuss.org/newsroom/viewpoints/


New WRB video

Some weeks ago, the IUSS Working Group WRB published a video explaining soil description according to the FAO Guidelines and classification according to WRB. To this video in English, they have now added a video in Spanish.

You find both videos here, along with some teaching material: https://www.boku.wzw.tum.de/index.php?id=wrb-teaching-material&L=0.


Congratulations – Finalist for the 2020 edX Prize

The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on tropical soils is among the 10 finalists for the EdX prize 2020 for ‘Exceptional Contributions in Online Teaching and Learning’! Kindly find the official release here: https://blog.edx.org. It would be great if you could share the news to your network to attract even more learners to the course and get them enthusiastic about the tropics, soils and sustainable management.

The MOOC is now in its 3rd run on EdX.org, you can access the current run here: https://www.edx.org/course/as-above-so-below-an-introduction-to-soils-ecosy-2

The development of this MOOC was financially supported by the IUSS Stimulus Fund.


News from the Argentinean Soil Science Association

The Argentinean Soil Science Association (AACS) is pleased and proud to announce the release of a new book, which will be of interest to many soil scientists and researchers, teachers, environmentalists, consultants, policy makers, and producers. This release is part of the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the AACS.

The book is entitled “Suelos y Vulcanismo. Argentina” (Soils and volcanism. Argentina) and has been published online with the ISBN 978-987-46870-1-2. The URL to access and download the book is: http://www.suelos.org.ar/sitio/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Suelos_y_vulcanismo_v.pdf.

The current state of knowledge about volcanic soils in Argentina and the influence of volcanic materials on the genesis of very many soils in the country was compiled by two AACS members: Perla A. Imbellone and Osvaldo A. Barbosa. Very many prestigious Argentinean soil scientists contributed their expertise and wisdom and the result is a book of 13 chapters on diverse aspects of volcanism and its relationship with soil formation in Argentina.

To find out more about the book, see our video in Spanish:


The AACS believes that “Suelos y Vulcanismo. Argentina” (Soils and volcanism. Argentina) is an excellent tool for all those who care about soil and want to know more about how volcanos have contributed to soil genesis, not only in Argentina but also all over the world.

By Dr. Guillermo A. Studdert, President of the Argentinean Soil Science Association

General News

FAO: Save the date – Join us for WORLD SOIL DAY 2020

World Soil Day Global Ceremony

4 December 2020, 13:00-14:30 CET

The WSD ceremony will be held virtually on 4 December with the participation of Mr Qu Dongyu – FAO Director-General, Ms Elizabeth Maruma Mrema (tbc) – Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity and thousands of soil fans. IUSS President Elect Laura Bertha will be participating in the celebration, too.

The winners of the Glinka prize and King Bhumibol WSD award as well as the IUSS – FAO-GSP Children’s book contest on Soil Biodiversity will be announced during the celebration.

Register for this event at: https://fao.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_3qBU60pKRgWJCtLbpLFV2Q

Glinka World Soil Prize

Looking for the new soil hero? The winner of the Glinka World Soil Prize will be announced during the official WSD celebrations on 4 December 2020.

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

King Bhumibol WSD Award

The call for application is now closed and the winner will be announced on 4 December 2020. So, stay tuned!

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

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

You are interested how the best scientific children’s books on Soil Biodiversity look like?

The winners will be announced during the official WSD celebrations on 4 December 2020.

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

Pin your event on the map!

If you haven’t already done so, register your event on the World Soil Day map! Don’t forget to send us the photos of your event and share them on your social media channels using the hashtags #WorldSoilDay and #SoilBiodiversity, if you would like to be featured in the official photogallery!

Register your event here: http://www.fao.org/world-soil-day/worldwide-events/add-events/en/

Campaign material

Are you planning a social media campaign, a community-building activity, a workshop, or a virtual event? Whether you are a government, private business, NGO, journalist, city, or an individual, we need you to spread the WSD call for actions.

On the Trello board and in the WSD work space, you will find a range of multimedia content in several languages to support your WSD event.

Access the campaign material here: http://www.fao.org/world-soil-day/campaign-materials/en/

Video animation

Do you need a 5-minute animation to start your World Soil Day event? This animation introduces the the main drivers, key functions, and challenges to combat soil biodiversity loss, indicating possible ways to protect and enhance soil biodiversity as a nature-based solution.

Watch the video Keep soil alive, protect soil biodiversityhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbdsHOnd_gw&feature=youtu.be

This video and several others are available in many different languages for you to download at the FAO website in the section campaign materials.

Photo Contest

Akshara Samarasuriya from Sri Lanka and Eric Palesvky from Israel have won the contest with their entries “Secret colony of termites under the soil” and “Soil predatory mite feeds on the nematode”.

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

[All articles above are from the Global Soil Partnership (GSP) Special announcement No. 28, 18 November 2020]


iSDAsoil: Open access soil property and nutrient maps for Africa at 30m resolution

iSDA is a social enterprise building on the legacy of AfSIS to create financially sustainable agronomy solutions for smallholder farmers. On the 22nd October, iSDA launched iSDAsoil (https://isda-africa.com/isdasoil) — a high spatial resolution soil information service for Africa mapped at 30 m spatial resolution for two standard depth intervals (0–20 cm and 20–50 cm). The soil variables (16+) include: soil pH, organic carbon (C) and total (organic) nitrogen (N), total carbon, extractable — phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), sulfur (S), sodium (Na), iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), silt, clay and sand, bulk density and depth to bedrock. Predictions were generated using a 2-scale Ensemble Machine Learning (https://github.com/Envirometrix/landmap), a combination of Sentinel-2, Landsat, DEM derivatives and coarse resolution covariates (MODIS, PROBA-V) and over 100,000 soil sampling training points. 

The soil property maps are available under an Open Data license (CC-BY 4.0) via a REST API (https://isda-africa.com/isdasoil/developer) and Zenodo (https://zenodo.org/search?page=1&size=20&q=iSDAsoil). To learn more about iSDAsoil, visit the Technical Information (https://www.isda-africa.com/isdasoil/technical-information/) and FAQs (https://www.isda-africa.com/isdasoil/faqs/) pages. If you are interested in using iSDAsoil tools, services or products for agribusiness or smallholder farmers, get in touch with iSDA at info@isda-africa.com. If you are aware of soil samples collected within the African continent that could be used for predictive soil mapping, we would love to hear from you: help us improve these predictions so we can increase the data usability in the next update. 

Several eminent soil scientists discussed the project and its implications here: https://medium.com/isda-africa/soil-science-and-smallholders-the-contribution-of-soil-to-sustainable-african-agriculture-35a1f67c19a8 

To subscribe to updates please visit the iSDA website at https://isda-africa.com


Dust Bowl 2.0? Rising Great Plains dust levels stir concerns

In October 2020 a storm front swept across the Great Plains of the United States, plowing up a wall of dust that could be seen from space, stretching from eastern Colorado into Nebraska and Kansas. It was a scene straight from the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, when farmers regularly saw soil stripped from their fields and whipped up into choking blizzards of dust.

Better get used to it. According to a new study, dust storms on the Great Plains have become more common and more intense in the past 20 years, because of more frequent droughts in the region and an expansion of croplands. “Our results suggest a tipping point is approaching, where the conditions of the 1930s could return,” says Gannet Haller, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Utah who led the study.

Read more: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/10/dust-bowl-20-rising-great-plains-dust-levels-stir-concerns?utm_campaign=SciMag&utm_source=JHubbard&utm_medium=Facebook


No soils, no life

We walk on soils, but often give little thought to what’s right under our feet. In fact, soils are the nation’s – and the world’s – breadbasket, providing food and a host of other necessities, including new medicines and materials. No soils, no life.

Read more: https://beta.nsf.gov/science-matters/no-soils-no-life

[From: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Science Policy Report: 28 October 2020]


New meta-analysis finds Bt crops have no impact on soil biota

A new meta-analysis finds that genetically modified Bt crops — in stark contrast to some pesticides — have no impact on soil invertebrates. The new research provides further weight to the argument that Bt crops, which control pests in a very targeted way using insecticidal proteins (Bt) expressed in plant tissues, protect biodiversity by helping farmers reduce their use of broad-spectrum insecticide sprays.

Read more: https://allianceforscience.cornell.edu/blog/2020/09/new-meta-analysis-finds-bt-crops-have-no-impact-on-soil-biota/

[From: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Science Policy Report: 16 September 2020]


Red parent soils create wetland problems

Identification and protection of wetlands requires recognition of hydric soils. Usually this is straightforward, but sometimes challenging or problematic situations arise. Recent research demonstrated that problematic red parent material (PRPM) soils, which we have known about for several decades, are actually quite widespread and found from Michigan to Arizona and from Texas to Massachusetts.

Read more: https://acsess.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/csan.20238

[From: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Science Policy Report: 16 September 2020]


Nematodes driving the fate of carbon under climate change

Ecological theory suggests that certain plant species may respond to drought by producing fewer leaves because leaves lose water through transpiration, and instead allocate more production to roots, which capture water. These patterns are important in the context of ecosystem responses to climate change because they set limits on ecosystem carbon assimilation and biomass production.

Plants interact with many other organisms in ecosystems, and the response of those to drought may also affect plant responses. Our previous multi-site grassland field study revealed that more frequent extreme droughts can increase populations of root-feeding soil nematodes (roundworms) in sub-humid grasslands by suppressing their predators.

Read more: https://www.globalsoilbiodiversity.org/blog-beneath-our-feet/2020/10/22/nematodes-driving-the-fate-of-carbon-under-climate-change

[From GSBI Newsletter – November 2020]


The EU Soil Observatory will be launched on Friday 4 December 2020

The new Soil Observatory is a dynamic and inclusive platform that will provide Commission Services, and the broader soil user community, with the information and data needed to safeguard soils. Healthy soils are at the heart of the Green Deal for Europe. Once lost, soils are non-renewable in terms of human lifetimes. In addition to providing us with food, fibres and fuel, soils play a key role in regulating the Earth’s climate, providing us with clean water, protecting us from floods and preserves our cultural heritage. The meeting will consist of the formal launch by EU Commissioners, high-level presentations and panel discussions in the morning, followed by an open technical discussion in the afternoon. The meeting will involve representatives from the EU Member States, the European Commission, the European Agencies, international organisations and civil society.

The event will be open to the public.

To join the meeting: Webex link (Meeting number: 174 345 6260; Password: SOIL2020).

[From ESDAC Newsletter No 125, November 2020]


Roadmap for the new EU soil strategy

The European Commission has published the roadmap for the new Soil Strategy. Part of the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030, this initiative will update the current strategy to address soil degradation and preserve land resources (‘land degradation neutrality’).  It welcomes stakeholders’ feedback via the ‘have your say’ website until 10 December 2020. Feedback will be taken into account for further development and fine tuning of the initiative. The Commission will summarise the input received in a synopsis report explaining how the input will be taken on board and, if applicable, why certain suggestions can’t be taken up.

Have your say: https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12634-New-EU-Soil-Strategy-healthy-soil-for-a-healthy-life%E2%80%8B

[From ESDAC Newsletter No 125, November 2020]


Past Rainfall Erosivity

In a published study we reconstructed past rainfall erosivity in Europe for the period 1961–2018, with the aim to investigate temporal changes in rainfall erosivity. As input data, we used the Rainfall Erosivity Database at European Scale (REDES) and Uncertainties in Ensembles of Regional Reanalyses (UERRA) rainfall data. Based on the reconstructed data, we derived a rainfall erosivity trend map for Europe where the results were qualitatively validated. Among the stations showing a statistically significant trend, we observed a tendency towards more positive (15%) than negative trends (7%). In addition, we also observed an increasing tendency of the frequency of years with maximum erosivity values. This dataset is part of Rainfall Erosivity package and REDES including 10 datasets.

Read more: https://esdac.jrc.ec.europa.eu/content/rainfall-erosivity-european-union-and-switzerland

[From ESDAC Newsletter No 125, November 2020]


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.


SSA / NZSSS Virtual World Soil Day Event

4 December 2020, Virtual event

Special online event to celebrate World Soil Day and features the Virtual Soil Judging Competition prize-giving

Register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_ic9ZLunxRy656it5HKnZ-g

Download flyer: https://www.soilscienceaustralia.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Virtual-Soil-Judging-Competition-2020-Flyer-1.pdf


U.S. World Soil Day event: A Diverse Soil Science Future

December 4, 2020, virtual event from 2-5 pm EST

The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine’s U.S. National Committee for Soil Sciences, in collaboration with the Soil Science Society of America, will hold this virtual event on December 4, 2020 from 2-5 pm EST to celebrate World Soil Day 2020. This online meeting will focus on two deeply interrelated topics: the future of soil science and diversity and inclusion in the soil science community. Each session will include a keynote and short presentations with a Q&A session followed by a discussion at the end.

Link to the agenda: https://www.iuss.org/media/usnc_agenda_112320_people-1.pdf

Website: https://www.nationalacademies.org/event/12-04-2020/a-diverse-soil-science-future


News from the ISC: Join our Knowledge Sharing Session: Online Meetings and Virtual Conferences

December 8 and 9, 2020, virtual event

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic requires organizations to adapt their meeting culture and shift in-person meetings to virtual platforms. How can this transformation be done successfully, how can risk factors be addressed, and which online platform is most suitable to your organization’s needs? In response to various requests from our members, the ISC is convening a knowledge sharing session to learn from each other’s experience regarding the organization and facilitation of virtual events.

All staff members and office bearers working within organizations that are part of the ISC membership as the IUSS are invited to attend.

If you are interested to attend the session, please register for the date and time that is convenient for you:

Read more: https://council.science/events/knowledge-virtual/



EGU General Assembly 2021 (vEGU21)

19–30 April 2021, virtual event

In 2021, EGU will be hosting vEGU21: Gather Online (#vEGU21), a fully virtual meeting that will be held in place of the General Assembly in Vienna. vEGU21 will provide as full a representation of the experience that EGU members enjoy at the annual meeting in Vienna as possible.

Abstract submissions will be accepted until 13 January 2021 at 13:00 CET.

Please note that session SSS12.1 Soil, Legislation and Social Equity is co-sponsored by IUSS and ECSSS (https://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU21/session/39140), with Laura Bertha Reyes-Sanchez, IUSS president in 2021, as one of the conveners.

Read more: https://www.egu21.eu/


SSS11.3/BG2.14 Call for abstracts: ‘Analytical methods as innovation sources in soil science’

Aim of the session is to present the usage of different laboratory methods and techniques in soil research and give the possibility for researchers to exchange their experiences. The special goal of this session is to promote a wider use of innovative analytical methods for determination of chemical compounds in mineral and organic soils, sediments, substrates and composts. The innovative methods covering soil organic matter and humic substances analysis are acknowledged. 

The EGU journal SOIL is considered (provisional acceptance) to publish selected papers presented at the session.

Read more: https://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU21/session/39210

The deadline for abstract submission (100 to 500 words) is 13 January 2021 at 13:00 CET.

Information about submitting abstracts: https://egu21.eu/abstracts_and_programme/how_to_submit_an_abstract.html

If you have any questions about the session, contact with Tõnu Tõnutare on tonu.tonutare@gmail.com or Manfred Sager on m.sager@bioforschung.at


Intersol 2021: Soils: Opportunities for the Transition of Territories

18-20 May 2021, Paris, France

Call for papers open until January 25, 2021

Website: www.intersol.fr


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


New publications

International Union of Geological Sciences Manual of Standard Geochemical Methods for the Global Black Soil Project

Edited by Demetriades, A., Dai, H., Liu, K., Savin, I., Birke, M., Johnson, C.C., Argyraki, A., 2020. International Union of Geological Sciences, Commission on Global Geochemical Baselines, Special Publication No. 1, Athens, Hellas, ISBN: 978-618-85049-0-5, 107 pages, 49 figures, 4 Tables, and 4 Appendices.

The manual is now available from the CGGB website at: https://www.globalgeochemicalbaselines.eu/content/162/black-soil-project-manual-/


Soils and Landscape Restoration

Edited by John A. Stanturf and Mac Callaham. 1st edition published by Academic Press on 27 October 2020. Paperback ISBN: 9780128131930, eBook ISBN: 9780128131947, 440 pages, price paperback EUR 88.20, price eBook EUR 88.20, price bundle: EUR 115.50.

Soils and Landscape Restoration provides a multidisciplinary synthesis on the sustainable management and restoration of soils in various landscapes. The book presents applicable knowledge of above- and below-ground interactions and biome specific realizations along with in-depth investigations of particular soil degradation pathways. It focuses on severely degraded soils (e.g., eroded, salinized, mined) as well as the restoration of wetlands, grasslands and forests. The book addresses the need to bring together current perspectives on land degradation and restoration in soil science and restoration ecology to better incorporate soil-based information when restoration plans are formulated.

Read more: https://www.elsevier.com/books/soils-and-landscape-restoration/stanturf/978-0-12-813193-0


The Soils of Nevada

Edited by Blackburn, P.W., Fisher, J.B., Dollarhide, W.E., Merkler, D.J., Chiaretti, J.V., Bockheim, J.G. published by Springer in World Soil Book Series, 2021. 301 p. 104 illus., 84 illus. in color. eBook ISBN 978-3-030-53157-7, price EUR 106.99, hardcover ISBN 978-3-030-53156-0, price 129.99 EUR.

This book discusses Nevada in the context of the history of soil investigations; soil-forming factors; general soil regions; soil geomorphology; taxonomic structure of the soils; taxonomic soil regions; soil-forming processes; benchmark, endemic, rare, and endangered soils; and use of soils.

This book presents the first report on the soils of Nevada and provides the first soil map of Nevada utilizing soil.

Read more: https://www.springer.com/de/book/9783030531560



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