Taking care of soils since 1924
IUSS Alert 186 (December 2020)

IUSS Alert 186 (December 2020)


Season’s Greetings

The IUSS Executive Committee and the IUSS Secretariat would like to thank all IUSS Standing Committees, Divisions, Commissions and Working Groups, Honorary members and Full members as well cooperating partners for their support in this year of the pandemic to bring forward soil science as a valuable contribution to solve global challenges.

We wish you all a Merry Christmas as well as peace, hope and health.


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

IUSS and FAO-GSP together launched a scientific children’s book contest on Soil Biodiversity in the framework of World Soil Day 2020. The motto was “Keep soil alive, protect soil biodiversity”. FAO, IUSS and GSP invited 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.

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


The winner stood to receive a cash prize of 1 000 USD, with the second and third prize receiving a cash prize of 500 USD and 250 USD respectively from IUSS and FAO’s GSP. The winners were announced on 4 December 2020.

Winners of the IUSS-FAO-GSP Children’s Book Contest on Soil Biodiversity

IUSS, FAO and GSP are pleased to announce the winners of the Children’s Book Contest on Soil Biodiversity:

1st place: ‘The science & spectacle of Soil Life by Roly Poly’, created by JiaJia Hamner (freelance, United States) and Sharada Keats (Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, United Kingdom).

Download the book:  The home of life. I am a living soil (42 MB)

2nd place: ‘Soil biodiversity. What’s most important?’ by Katelyn Lutes and Benjamin Ellert (Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada).

Download the book:  Soil biodiversity. What’s most important? (134 MB)

3rd place: ‘The home of life. I am a living soil’, by Claudio Lucas Capeche, Julia Franco Stuchi, Milena Pessoa Pagliacci, Fabrício de Martino, Alexandre Abrantes Cotta de Mello, Antonio Augusto Bianchi, Maya Stuchi Tedjini, Kelita Carlos Andrade (Embrapa Solos, Brazil).

Download the book: The home of life. I am a living soil (36MB)

All the first ten classified and awarded books as well as the mentions of honour can be found at http://www.fao.org/world-soil-day/bookcontest/contest-results/en/

IUSS, FAO and GSP received over 100 books from 60 countries for the contest. Launched in the run-up to WSD2020, the book contest on soil biodiversity gave visibility to the importance of soil organisms and raised awareness on the urgency of protecting soil biodiversity.

Congratulations to the winners and finalists and a big thank you to all participants!


Soilutions’ calendar

Following a poster contest ‘Soilutions’ to find new solutions for soil problems, which the IUSS launched in 2019, it was decided to use the best 12 posters plus a cover poster to produce a permanent ‘Soilutions’ calendar. The calendar was made available for download on the IUSS website. Printed copies will be made available in the beginning of 2021 and can be ordered from iuss@umweltbundesamt.at.

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


YouTube videos of the British Soil Science Society shared during the Inter Congress Meeting

Below please find links to two YouTube videos about the 22nd World Congress of Soil Sciences (WCSS22), which the British Soil Science Society shared during the IUSS Inter Congress Meeting, which took place virtually 18-23 November 2020.

WCSS 2022 – Arts and Tours Programme

WCSS 2022 – Welcome to Glasgow!

The video #Grounded shows the importance of soils for humankind. Soils are our past present and future. We must stay #Grounded. For more information on how you can reconnect with soils, visit: www.soils.org.uk/grounded.


Young Micromorphology Publication Awards (YMPA) 2021 – Reminder

Commission 1.1 – Soil Morphology and Micromorphology will award the Young Micromorphologist’s Publication Award every 2 years: at each International Working Meeting on Soil Micromorphology, and at each World Congress of Soil Science. Considering that the planned IWMSM2020 meeting in Krakow has been postponed to 2021 due to the COVID19 emergency, the award has also been postponed accordingly. It is planned to have two close YMPA awards (IWMSM-2021 and WCSS-2022).

The purpose of this award is to encourage and promote the use of soil micromorphology by young scientists. The award will be given to one, or more, young scientist who has published research in the preceding 4 years, that is an outstanding contribution to the principles, methodology, or application of micromorphology. The author must be less than 35 years old at the time of acceptance of the publication, and he/she must be the first author. The paper must be published in an international journal with wide distribution, but not necessarily a scientific journal. The award is not restricted to papers published in the English language only.

The Award Committee is composed of Fabio Scarciglia, Irina Kovda, Peter Kühn and Chair (Fabio Terribile) and Vice-chair (Richard Heck) of Commission 1.1.

Applicants should submit the following: (1) a pdf file of the paper(s) to be considered for the award, (2) proof of age for eligibility (ex: photocopy of ID or other document with birthdate), and (3) a cover letter explaining why they should be considered for this award. Letters of support from senior micromorphologists, outlining the qualities of the publication(s) are also welcome.

Applications are due December 31, 2020.

Send by email to: Prof. Fabio Terribile fabio.terribile@unina.it


General News

EGU 2021 Call for Abstracts – Sustainable Development by 2030: Developing an agenda for soils

Chairs: Daniel Evans, Victoria Janes-Bassett, Panos Panagos, Saskia Visser

By 2030, the Agenda for Sustainable Development – the 17 ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ – are intended to be achieved. The role of soil science, and the work between soil scientists and other disciplines, will be paramount over the coming decade. In particular, healthy and sustainable soil management plans will need to ensure that soils continue to deliver services to ecosystems, societies, and economies. Global climate change and the burgeoning demands from a growing world population are set to place escalating pressures on soils, suggesting an urgent need to build resilience into soil management whilst also reversing current global trends of soil degradation.

In this session, we aim to develop an evidence-based and solution-focused agenda for achieving healthy, sustainable, and resilient soil systems by 2030. We particularly welcome submissions that either:

– Highlight the advancements made over the past decade (2010-2020) in enhancing soil health, sustainability and/or resilience;

– Suggest further ways of fostering greater health, sustainability and/or resilience in soil systems over the decade to come;

– Consider how research agendas can be better integrated in order to sustain and enhance the delivery of multiple soil-derived ecosystem services.

Abstracts that make explicit links to the UN Sustainable Development Goals are encouraged, as well as those that demonstrate the importance of cross-disciplinary work between soil scientists and other divisions of geoscience. We strongly encourage abstract submissions from Early Career Scientists, particularly those that have not previously attended the EGU, to whom we can offer abstract support and guidance. The abstract submission deadline is 13 January 2021, 13:00 CET.

Submit an abstract here: https://tinyurl.com/EGUdecade

Follow the session using the hashtag: #EGUdecade


Land and Soil Management Award

This prize rewards land use and soil management practices that mitigate 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.

The call is open for projects from all European countries.

Deadline: January 20, 2021

Read more: https://www.europeanlandowners.org/awards/soil-land-award

[From ESDAC Newsletter No 126 (December 2020)]


Multispectral reflectance data LUCAS 2015 are available

Last October, ESDAC announced the release of the LUCAS 2015 soil dataset. Now, also the Multispectral reflectance data are available for the 20,000+ soil samples of the LUCAS 2015 SOIL campaign. These data, together with the spectral library of the LUCAS 2009 SOIL campaign, will allow scientists to explore the potential of soil spectroscopy for determining accurately soil properties and demonstrate its operational robustness.

Read more: https://esdac.jrc.ec.europa.eu/content/lucas2015-topsoil-data

[From ESDAC Newsletter No 126 (December 2020)]


Check out the Soil Biodiversity Observation Network

Humans depend on living soil resources for their nutrition, recreation, and health needs. Yet, the current and future response of global soil biodiversity to human activities and the consequences for ecosystems and their essential functions remains unknown. Implementing operational and sustained programs to detect changes to soil biodiversity and ecosystem functioning as a result of human activities is critical to understanding and managing impacts on natural capital and ecosystem services. Constituted as a global Soil Biodiversity Observation Network (Soil BON), this group is working in partnership with the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative (GSBI) and other international partners to make soil biodiversity and ecosystem function observations available to ensure living soil resources are sustainably conserved and managed.

Read more: https://www.globalsoilbiodiversity.org/news-2/2020/11/23/soil-bon-collaboration

[From GSBI Newsletter – December 2020]


Take a Survey on Functional Traits of Soil Fauna

Please consider taking the following survey from Dr. Anton Potapov of EUdapobase, a COST Action Plan, if you use or are planning to use traits of soil fauna in your research. It should take about 5-10 minutes to complete. Feel free to disseminate the survey to your fellow soil researchers.

Take the survey: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSePezp8io1fbjj0yj6P64zN5mbri1zX1m_XnYU-JZWOHxdpQQ/viewform

[From GSBI Newsletter – December 2020]


Soil arthropod mesofauna takes the stage: advances from whole-community haplotype-level metabarcoding

Our understanding of the spatial structure and the underlying processes of community assembly of soil biodiversity have increased dramatically in the last years. However, this knowledge is still strongly unbalanced across taxonomic groups, a situation which hampers the development of an integrative framework for soil biodiversity. In particular, there is a pronounced shortage for soil arthropods, in part because the implementation of high-throughput sequencing to this soil biodiversity fraction has seen comparative little and delayed progress in adapting and exploiting these tools.

Read more: https://www.globalsoilbiodiversity.org/blog-beneath-our-feet/2020/11/15/soil-arthropod-mesofauna-takes-the-stage-advances-from-whole-community-haplotype-level-metabarcoding

[From GSBI Newsletter – December 2020]


Soil Biodiversity for Kids

Check out the new special collection in Frontiers for Young Minds on soil biodiversity. This collection includes an article by Felix Gottschall and colleagues on the importance of conserving soil biodiversity called, “Can we save the beast by conserving the beauty?”

Read more: https://kids.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/frym.2020.547740

[From GSBI Newsletter – December 2020]


Sounding Soil

Initiated by Markus Maeder, a Swiss musicologist, ‘Sounding Soil’ is an interdisciplinary research project that studies the sounds of the ground. To put it simply, this project, which will end in 2021, analyses how and why soils emit different sounds depending on their use. The interim assessment is as follows: the greater the diversity of organisms living in the soil, the more complex the sound it emits.

Sounding Soil’ is a project involving six institutions: the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK), the Foundation for Ecological Development Biovision, the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), the National Soil Observatory (NABO), the Institute for Terrestrial Ecosystems (ETH Zurich) and the Research Institute for Organic Agriculture (FiBL).

Listen to the sounds of soil: https://www.soundingsoil.ch/en/

[From Le Monde de l’Agriculture Régénérative, December 2020, original article only available in French]


The Global Soil Doctors Programme

Soil Doctors are champion farmers who assist and train farmers in their community.

The Global Soil Doctors Programme provides soil doctors with training, educational material and soil testing kits to build capacity on the principles of soil science and promote the practice of sustainable soil management. They become the focal points to associations involved in promoting the global programme and work closely with government agencies, research centers, soil science societies, universities, NGOs, and more.  

Read more: http://www.fao.org/global-soil-partnership/pillars-action/2-awareness-raising/soil-doctor/en/


Movie ‘Keep soil alive’

Our mission: Keep #Soil alive! Let’s focus on protecting our soils before this process becomes irreversible.

Watch the movie: https://tinyurl.com/y2rg94ak


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.


“GSBI Speaks” Webinar Series

Join us for our next webinar, “First Global Soil Biodiversity Assessment: From science to policy – Part 2″ which will be held on January 21, 2021 at 8am – 9:30am MT; 3pm – 4:30pm GMT; 4pm -5:30pm CET

Read more: https://www.globalsoilbiodiversity.org/webinars-1

[From GSBI Newsletter – December 2020]


3rd ISMC Conference – Advances in Soil Systems Modeling

18-22 May 2021, Tianjin, China.

The Conference will be hosted as virtual event.

Deadline for submitting abstracts: 14 March 2021

Early-bird registration deadline: 18 April 2021     Late registration deadline: 3 May 2021           

Conference website: https://soil-modeling.org/ismc-conference/ismc-conference


International Colloquium on Soil Zoology

16-21 August 2021 !new date!

Bolzano, South Tyrol, Italy

Early bird registration: 1 March – 31 May 2021

Website: https://icsz2020.eurac.edu/



Global Conference on Sandy Soils

30 May – 3 June 2022 (postponed from 2020)

University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA

Deadline for Abstract submission is March 31, 2022.

The papers from the conference will be published in the Progress of Soil Science Series (Springer).

Read more: https://sandysoils.org/


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


New publications

Soil Sciences Education: Global Concepts and Teaching

Edited by Takashi Kosaki, Rattan Lal, Laura Bertha Reyes Sánchez. Published in the CATENA series GeoEcology essays in December 2020; 198 pages, 96 figures, 28 tables, 17 x 24 cm, US-ISBN: 1-59326-272-8, ISBN 978-3-510-65523-6. The book can be ordered from the IUSS Secretariat (iuss@umweltbundesamt.at) at the price of EUR 29.90 (plus shipping costs); reduced price for IUSS members: EUR 25.00 (plus shipping costs).

Who knows, knows of, or even has awareness of soils? If many more people knew about soils, the land surface, which soil, water, flora, fauna and ourselves inhabit, our planet could not have suffered from the variety of global environmental problems that it suffers from today.

The International Union of Soil Sciences has identified education and public awareness of soils and soil sciences as one of the most important goals of the International Decade of Soils 2015-2024, which is reflected in this book.

This book addresses readers primarily involved in teaching soils, geosciences, environment, ecosystems, art, etc., in schools, and who serve at museums, educational or extension organizations, NPOs, NGOs, etc. Its authors provide a basic framework and a collection of good practices currently used in soil and soil sciences education to make students aware of soils and their importance. Specifically, this publication strives to enable readers to learn and share whatever is best suited to fit their particular requirements.

This book consists of three parts. Part I comprises concept, philosophy and tenets of soil sciences education for formulating its curricula at different levels from pre-school children to adult citizens. Part II is a collection of good practices of soil sciences education which have been indigenously developed, tested and proven to be useful and efficient in countries all over the world, i.e., four from Africa and Asia; three from Europe; seven from North and South America; and two from Oceania. The material presented in the book provides a good start for promoting soil and soil sciences to children, students, the general public and policy and decision makers globally. Part III is dedicated to guiding the future of soil sciences education based on past and current experiences.

Read more: http://www.schweizerbart.com/9783510655236


2020 Soil science challenges in a new era: A transdisciplinary overview of relevant topics.

By Rodrigo-Comino, Jesus; López-Vicente, Manuel; Kumar, Vinod; Rodríguez-Seijo, Andrés; Valkó, Orsolya; Rojas, Claudia; Reza Pourghasemi, Hamid; Salvati, Luca; Bakr, Noura; Vaudour, Emmanuelle; Brevik, Eric C.; Radziemska, Maja; Pulido, Manuel; Di Prima, Simone; Dondini, Marta; de Vries, Wim; Santos, Erika S.; Mendonça-Santos, Maria de Lourdes; Yu, Yang; Panagos, Panos. In: Air, Soil and Water Research. 13: 1–17

Read more: http://doi.org/10.1177/1178622120977491


State of Knowledge of Soil Biodiversity – Status, challenges and potentialities. Report 2020.

By FAO, ITPS, GSBI, SCBD and EC. Dec. 2020. Rome, FAO. 618 pages, ISBN 978-92-5-133582-6, https://doi.org/10.4060/cb1928en

There is increasing attention to the importance of biodiversity for food security and nutrition, especially above-ground biodiversity such as plants and animals. However, less attention is being paid to the biodiversity beneath our feet, soil biodiversity, which drives many processes that produce food or purify soil and water. This report is the result of an inclusive process involving more than 300 scientists from around the world under the auspices of the FAO’s Global Soil Partnership and its Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative, and the European Commission. It presents concisely the state of knowledge on soil biodiversity, the threats to it, and the solutions that soil biodiversity can provide to problems in different fields. It also represents a valuable contribution to raising awareness of the importance of soil biodiversity and highlighting its role in finding solutions to today’s global threats.

Read more: http://www.fao.org/3/cb1928en/CB1928EN.pdf?fbclid=IwAR03GC7gCaeoJEUejI7pEYe8S0yYhpyWBKofo3fhhwLvFw6HbmOjKF9LYVo


Safeguarding our food supply against Covid-19 and climate change

Edited by acatech. Published in the acatech IMPULSE series on 15 October 2020 by acatech.

The coronavirus crisis has highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of our food supply. In view of the threats posed by climate change, we must ensure that it is even better equipped to cope with future crises, according to a group of experts at acatech – National Academy of Science and Engineering. The experts recommend the adoption of a sustainable agricultural intensification model that combines principles of organic and conventional farming, supported by new technologies. The decisions required to promote this model should be taken as part of the forthcoming reform of the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Download the whole document: https://en.acatech.de/publication/a-resilient-and-sustainable-food-supply/


SSSA Publishes New Book | Guidelines for Analysis and Description of Soil and Regolith Thin Sections, Second Edition

By Georges Stoops. First published 20 November 2020 in the Book Series ASA, CSSA, and SSSA Books, © 2021 Soil Science Society of America, Inc. Print ISBN:9780891189756 |Online, ISBN:9780891189763 |DOI:10.1002/9780891189763

The new book from SSSA is a revised guide to the study and of soil and regolith thin sections. A specialized system of terms and concepts must be used to accurately and effectively distinguish and name the microscopic features of soils and regoliths. With a comprehensive, consistent terminology at their disposal, researchers may compare, store and discuss new data easily and with less risk of error. The second edition of “Guidelines for Analysis and Description of Soil and Regolith Thin Sections” has been assembled to address this need, offering a practical system of analysis and description to those working with soil and regolith materials. 

Read more: https://acsess.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/book/10.1002/9780891189763

[From: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Science Policy Report: 9 December 2020]


Techniques for Work with Plant and Soil Nematodes

Edited by: Roland N Perry, University of Hertfordshire, UK, David Hunt, CABI, UK, Sergei A Subbotin, California Department of Food and Agriculture, USA. December 2020 | Hardback | 320 Pages | 9781786391759; November 2020 | ePDF 9781786391766 | ePub 9781786391773. Price hardback £95.00 | €110.00 | $130.00; price ePDF from VitalSource: £95.00 | €110.00 | $130.00.

Plant-parasitic and free-living nematodes are increasingly important in relation to food security, quarantine measures, ecology (including pollution studies), and research on host-parasite interactions. Being mostly microscopic, nematodes are challenging organisms for research. Techniques for Work with Plant and Soil Nematodes introduces the basic techniques for laboratory and field work with plant-parasitic and free-living soil-dwelling nematodes. Written by an international team of experts, this book is extensively illustrated, and addresses both fundamental traditional techniques and new methodologies. The book covers areas that have become more widespread over recent years, such as techniques used in diagnostic laboratories, including computerized methods to count and identify nematodes. Information on physiological assays, electron microscopy techniques and basic information on current molecular methodologies and their various applications is also included.

Read more: https://www.cabi.org/bookshop/book/9781786391759/


Soil Metagenomics

By By T.C.K. Sugitha, Asish K. Binodh, K. Ramasamy, U. Sivakumar. 1st Edition published December 16, 2020 by CRC Press, 276 Pages 40 B/W Illustrations, ISBN 9780367693961, price hardback GBP £71.99, price VitalSource eBook: Purchase eBook – £35.99, 6 Month Rental – £22.50.

This book focuses on the recent advents and technological breakthroughs in metagenomic approaches coupled with their applications in agriculture. The intended audience include soil and environmental microbiologists, molecular biologists and policy makers. The book expertly describes the latest fourth generation metagenomic technologies from sample collection to data analysis, metatranscriptomic, metaproteomic and metabolomics studies

Read more: https://www.routledge.com/Soil-Metagenomics/Sugitha-Binodh-Ramasamy-Sivakumar/p/book/9780367693961



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