Taking care of soils since 1924
IUSS Alert 188 (February 2021)

IUSS Alert 188 (February 2021)


IUSS Stimulus Fund – first call for submissions 2021

IUSS has established an annual Stimulus Fund to support suitable activities within its 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. Research projects or travel costs of individuals will not be funded. Applications should be sent to . 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 in relation to the total budget of the activity. The normal maximum award will be USD 2,500.

Submission Deadline: March 15, 2021

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


Kubiëna Medal 2022 – reminder

The Kubiëna Medal award is conferred by the IUSS Soil Morphology and Micromorphology Commission to commemorate Walter L Kubiëna for his distinguished contribution to soil micromorphology. This IUSS medal is awarded for outstanding and sustained contribution in the discipline of soil micromorphology.

Read more: https://www.iuss.org/about-the-iuss/awards-prizes/medals/kubiena-medal/

How to apply

The nominees may be proposed by institutions, societies, commissions and working groups of the IUSS, and individuals. Members of the Award committee are not eligible to make nominations or second nominations.

The proposal for nomination must be submitted to the Award committee chair, and should include:

  1. Statement of key achievements and career highlights of the nominee (1 page)
    2. Curriculum vitae detailing career history and publication record of the nominee
    3. Name of proposer and seconder for the nominee
    4. Any other relevant information in support of the nominee
    5. Full address and contact details of the nominee

Applications are due March 31, 2021. Send by email applications to: Prof. Fabio Terribile fabio.terribile@unina.it


General News

SciDataCon/Internatioal Data Week 2021: Call for Sessions and Invitation to Sponsors and Partners

SciDataCon 2021 is an integral part of International Data Week (IDW) 2021, which will be held both virtually and onsite in Seoul, Republic of Korea, on 8–11 November 2021. IDW 2021 will also feature the CODATA 2021 General Assembly on 12-13 November 2021.

The overarching theme of IDW 2021 and SciDataCon is Data to Improve our World. In our post-pandemic future, humanity has an opportunity and obligation to address major challenges, including climate change, sustainable development, and disaster risk reduction. The digital revolution and the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, the methods and practices of Open Science, and of FAIR data and services, give humanity the tools to do so. Embracing these possibilities requires engagement with society, rigorous research methods, and good practice in data science and data stewardship. The theme Data to Improve our World explores the nexus of these issues.

Session proposals should be submitted at: http://www.scidatacon.org/IDW2021/.

The deadline for proposals is 31 March 2021

Conference website: https://www.scidatacon.org/


Healthy soils – consultation on new EU soil strategy

Soils are essential ecosystems that deliver valuable services such as the provision of food, energy and raw materials, carbon sequestration, water purification and infiltration, nutrient regulation, pest control and recreation. Therefore, soil is crucial for fighting climate change, protecting human health, safeguarding biodiversity and ecosystems and ensuring food security. Healthy soils are a key enabler to achieve the objectives of the European Green Deal such as climate neutrality, biodiversity restoration, zero pollution, healthy and sustainable food systems and a resilient environment. The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 announced the update of the 2006 EU Soil Thematic Strategy to address soil and land degradation in a comprehensive way and to help achieve land degradation neutrality by 2030. The Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 highlights that it is essential to step up efforts to protect soil fertility, reduce erosion and increase soil organic matter. Significant progress is also needed on identifying contaminated sites, restoring degraded soils, defining the conditions for their good ecological status and improving the monitoring of soil quality.

All citizens and organisations are welcome to contribute to this consultation.

Feedback period: 02 February 2021 – 27 April 2021 (midnight Brussels time)

Read more: https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12634-New-EU-Soil-Strategy-healthy-soil-for-a-healthy-life/public-consultation?fbclid=IwAR1I73LOUvAvcmpb-luGBK1OvBGdz1RHAK0JM7m9rZKEwkJc5APLWphdD8o


Planting crops – and carbon, too

President Biden says farmers can adopt agricultural methods that help fight climate change. Maryland farmer Trey Hill has been trying. While his grandfather, who started the family farm along the Chesapeake Bay, always planted in the spring in a clean field, in Hill’s approach to farming, “you never want to see the ground.”

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2021/climate-solutions/climate-regenerative-agriculture/

[From: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Science Policy Report: 3 February 2021]


Funeral of Australia’s first national soil advocate

Former governor-general Michael Jeffery of Australia was farewelled as ‘warrior king’ at a state funeral. After 35 years in the army, he was most recently known for his advocacy for soil health, and was appointed in 2012 by then-prime minister Julia Gillard as the country’s first national advocate for soil health.

After more than a decade of work, his recommendation to adopt a national objective to restore soil health to ensure future food security was committed to by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Read more: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-12-29/former-governor-general-michael-jeffery-state-funeral/13018758


Mercury (Hg) distribution in European topsoils

Mercury (Hg) distribution in topsoil (0-20cm) is influenced by climate, soil properties, vegetation. In addition to the natural factor, mercury has high values close to past mining activities and coal combustion sites. High Overall, the stock of Hg in EU topsoil is estimated to c.a. 44.8 Gg with a median concentration of 38.3 μg kg−1; 10% of the area exceeds the 84.7 μg kg−1 and 209 Hg hotspots (top 1%) have been identified with concentrations >422 μg kg−1. In a detailed investigation, 42% of the hotspots were associated with well-known mining activities while the rest can be related either to coal combustion industries or local diffuse contamination. In total 209 hotspots were identified, defined as the top percentile in Hg concentration (>422 μg kg−1). 87 sites (42% of all hotspots) were associated with known mining areas. The sources of the other hotspots may relate to unmined geogenic Hg or industrial pollution. In a recent research study we present soil Hg concentrations from the LUCAS topsoil (0–20 cm) survey mapped with Deep Neural Network (DNN) learning model.

Download data: https://esdac.jrc.ec.europa.eu/content/mercury-content-european-union-topsoil

[From ESDAC Newsletter No 127 (Jan-Feb 2021)]


Land degradation in global arable lands

Land degradation is a global environmental issue that affects the world’s arable lands on a large scale, thus threatening global food production systems. In a recent study, we analysed the land degradation footprint on global arable lands, using complex geospatial data on certain major degradation processes, i.e. aridity, soil erosion, vegetation decline, soil salinization and soil organic carbon decline. By applying geostatistical techniques that are representative for identifying the incidence of the five land degradation processes in global arable lands, results showed that aridity is by far the largest singular pressure for these agricultural systems, affecting ~40% of the arable lands’ area, which cover approximately 14 million km2 globally. Also, it was found that soil erosion is the major land degradation process, affecting ~20% of global arable systems.

Read more: https://esdac.jrc.ec.europa.eu/content/land-degradation-global-arable-lands

[From ESDAC Newsletter No 127 (Jan-Feb 2021)]


World Soil Day 2020 at a glance

Concerted action across up to 105 countries and hundreds of million participants is what makes World Soil Day one of the most celebrated UN Observances. For its latest edition ‘Keep soil alive, Protect soil biodiversity’, more than 780 events brought together governments, businesses, NGOs, youth, the media, and the public. Rome, New York, Bangkok, Abu Dhabi, Moscow held official ceremonies while twenty-one FAO regional, sub-regional and country offices actively supported the campaign.

Read more: http://www.fao.org/global-soil-partnership/resources/highlights/detail/en/c/1370580/

[From: Global Soil Partnership Newsletter no 31, February 2021]


Bangladesh: Soil4Nutrition project

As part of the Soils for Nutrition project, the FAO Global Soil Partnership promotes sustainable soil management practices to improve the nutritional quality of locally produced foods to address micronutrient deficiencies in local populations.

Read more: http://www.fao.org/global-soil-partnership/resources/highlights/detail/en/c/1373483/

[From: Global Soil Partnership Newsletter no 31, February 2021]


Sustainable Soil Management in Uganda and Rwanda

GSP in collaboration with the FAO representations in Uganda and Rwanda, South and Triangular Cooperation Division (PST) of FAO, Embassies of China to Uganda and Rwanda, and national partners in terms of ministries of agriculture, soil institutes, soil laboratories and universities have launched two projects to strengthen national capacities on sustainable soil management (SSM) to improve food security through increased agricultural productivity and nutrition.

Read more: http://www.fao.org/global-soil-partnership/resources/highlights/detail/en/c/1371498/

[From: Global Soil Partnership Newsletter no 31, February 2021]


Launch of the Armenian Soil Information System

The launch of the Armenian Soil Information System (ArmSIS) represents a step forward in the assessment of soil resources to guide the development of policies to prevent soil degradation. At the request of the Ministry of Economy of Armenia, ArmSIS is the result of a joint effort by FAO GSP, Armenian National Agrarian University, Centre of the Agricultural Services and Institute of Geological Sciences. ArmSIS’s establishment was financially supported by the Russian Federation.

Read more: http://www.fao.org/global-soil-partnership/resources/highlights/detail/en/c/1371495/

[From: Global Soil Partnership Newsletter no 31, February 2021]


Network on Salt-affected Soils

The International Network of Salt-Affected Soils (INSAS) aims to facilitate the sustainable and productive use of salt-affected soils for food security, agricultural sustainability and climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Read more: http://www.fao.org/global-soil-partnership/insas

[From: Global Soil Partnership Newsletter no 31, February 2021]


A wealth of information on the world’s ants

Ants are one of the most prominent soil macroarthropods. They live almost anywhere on land (except Antarctica and some isolated islands), and most of them nest underground, modifying soil ecosystems in the process. It has been estimated that ants make up 15-20% of the terrestrial animal biomass on Earth. Through subterranean nest excavation and maintenance, they are heavily involved in providing essential soil ecosystem services for humans (such as improving soil structure and increasing organic matter content on marginal land).

Read more: https://www.globalsoilbiodiversity.org/blog-beneath-our-feet/2021/1/22/a-wealth-of-information-on-the-worlds-ants

[From GSBI Newsletter – February 2021]


New Podcast called Life in the Soil

Check out the new “Life in the Soil” podcast series by Dr. Matthias Rillig and colleagues!

– Episode 1: Living soil – A habitat hidden from view
– Episode 2: Fungi – The kingdom of mushrooms, spores, and networks
– Episode 3: The soil food web – A jungle in tiny dimensions

Listen to the podcast: https://soundcloud.com/mrillig

[From GSBI Newsletter – February 2021]


Speaking up for diversity in science: ISC launches podcast series

The ISC is partnering with Nature and its ‘Working Scientist’ podcast, highlighting all aspects of diversity in science – asking why diversity matters, why diversity makes for better science, how to integrate diverse voices and different perspectives in research, and how to promote inclusion of less well represented or marginalized groups in science settings. The series forms part of the outputs for the ISC’s project ‘Combating systemic racism and other forms of discrimination in science’.

Listen to the first episodes: https://council.science/podcast/nature-working-scientists/


Soil erosion is unlikely to drive a future carbon sink in Europe

In the past, people always thought that soil erosion driven by climate would lead to a C sink in the near future. In this paper, a biogeochemistry-erosion model framework was used to quantify the impact of future climate on the C cycle. The result challenge the idea mentioned before.

Read more: https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/4/11/eaau3523?fbclid=IwAR2IzOsansupV_OFwg8wP3QXaQh8zCfLVa66LlsacN7UCC5Ic9RPbCVIlwM


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.


Workshop Exploring A Dynamic Soil Information System

March 2 – 4, 2021

Online event

Soils are a critical natural resource that support a wide range of human activities, but current systems for monitoring soils do not provide an accurate picture of changes in the soil resource over time. The National Academies invites you to a workshop to help envision a Dynamic Soil Information System that would overlay important chemical, physical, and biological information about soil samples taken from a wide range of geographies.

Read more: National Academies hosts a workshop on envisioning a soil information system

[From ASA-CSSA-SSSA Science Policy Report, 17 February 2021]


3rd ISMC Conference – Advances in Modeling Soil Systems

May 18-22, 2021

Virtual event

The conference programme addresses recent research in the soil-vegetation-atmosphere continuum centered around soils over all spatial scales, time scales, and elements – from processes to prediction.

Abstract deadline: March 15, 2021

Programme and abstract submission: https://soil-modeling.org/ismc-conference/ismc-conference


III International and XV National Congress of Serbian Society of Soil Science


21 – 24 September 2021, Sokobanja, Serbia

The purpose of this meeting, jointly organized by the Serbian Society of Soil Science and the University of Belgrade, Faculty of Agriculture, is to bring together researchers and scientists interested in soil science, soil-plant-atmosphere continuum, sustainable land use, soil degradation, soil and water conservation, and soil socio-economic pathways, to address recent research results and to present and discuss their ideas, theories, technologies, systems, tools, applications, progress and experiences.

The papers will be published in the Book of Proceedings. The event will be held with both in-person and online sessions, while observing all applicable safety measures.

Abstract submission deadline: June 1, 2021

Congress website: https://congress.sdpz.rs/


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


New publications

Sclerotia Grains in Soils

Edited by Makiko Watanabe. 1st edition published in the series Progress in Soil Science on 12 February 2021 by Springer, 212 pages, 78 b/w illustrations, 25 in colour, eBook ISBN 978-981-334-252-1; DOI 10.1007/978-981-33-4252-1, Hardcover ISBN 978-981-334-251-4, price eBook: 96,29 € | £87.50 | $109.00; hardcover: 119,99 € | £109.99 | $149.99

This book introduces what sclerotia grains are, and where and how they exist in soils, by compiling the results obtained from the studies on fungal sclerotia formed by Cenococcum geophilum (Cg) and related species, the visible black small grains persistent for a few thousand to ten thousands of years in forest soils and sediments. The chapters contain the results and discussions on the ecological distribution and regulating factors, characteristics, and function of Cg sclerotia grains, carried out by researchers from soil geography, soil science, soil microbiology, physiology, forestry, analytical chemistry, environmental chemistry, material science, and related disciplines.

Read more: https://www.springer.com/de/book/9789813342514


Protocol for Sustainable Soil Management

The protocol constitutes a fundamental tool to assess if any intervention implemented in the field, such as improvement of productive systems, innovation and new technologies, ecosystem restoration and carbon sequestration, is carried out in a sustainable manner according to the definition of sustainable soil management. In practical terms, the protocol provides key indicators and a set of tools to assess soil functions based on its physical, chemical and biological properties.

Read more: http://www.fao.org/global-soil-partnership/resources/highlights/detail/en/c/1370578/

[From: Global Soil Partnership Newsletter no 31, February 2021]


Understanding and improving crop root function – now 20% discounted for IUSS members

Edited by Peter Gregory, University of Reading, UK. Published 19 January 2021 by Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing, 686 pages, ISBN-13: 9781786763600, price hardback GBP 180.00, also available as eBook from VitalSource.

Recent decades have seen a dramatic increase in research on plant roots. A deeper understanding of the complex ways roots interact with soils is making it possible to ‘design’ roots to optimise nutrient/water uptake in low-input environments, as well as deliver other benefits such as improved soil health and reduced nutrient leaching. Continued research is needed in this important area so that it can contribute to more sustainable, ‘climate-smart’ crop production. The publishers offer a 20% discount for all members of IUSS. Should you be interested, the discount code is “IUSSCR20?”. It is valid until 31st March 2021.

Read more: https://shop.bdspublishing.com/store/bds/detail/workgroup/3-190-89122


Essentials of Soil Science now also as e-book

The book Essentials of Soil Science (Soil formation, functions, use and classification (World Reference Base, WRB)) by Winfried E. H. Blum, Peter Schad and Stephen Nortcliff was published in 2018 by Borntraeger Science Publishers. It presents a concise (170 pages) and comprehensive introduction to soil science.

Now, it is also available as e-book: https://www2.ciando.com/ebook/bid-2877582


Job offers

If you are interested in working in soil sciences and related fields of expertise, please see current job offers at: https://www.iuss.org/jobs/



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