Taking care of soils since 1924
IUSS Alert 190 (April 2021)

IUSS Alert 190 (April 2021)



IUSS and FAO launched Children’s book “The magical world of soil biodiversity”

During the Opening Day of the Global Symposium on Soil Biodiversity (GSOBI21), ‘Keep soil alive, protect soil biodiversity’, a science-policy meeting that takes place from 19-22 April 2021, IUSS and FAO launched their children’s book “The magical world of soil biodiversity”. This collection of 10 stories includes the best entries received from a total of 97 books spanning over 75 countries.

In the framework of World Soil Day 2020, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS), the educative project “THE IUSS GOES TO THE SCHOOL”, and the Global Soil Partnership (GSP) launched a children’s book contest on Soil Biodiversity with the motto “Keep soil alive, protect soil biodiversity”. The book contest on soil biodiversity has given visibility to the importance of soil organisms and raised awareness on the urgency of protecting soil biodiversity. The soil biodiversity book competition highlights the importance of soil organisms and raises awareness of the urgent need to protect soil biodiversity among a young audience (children aged 6-11 years).

Presentation given by Laura Bertha Reyes Sánchez, IUSS President 2021-2022: laura_book_presentation.pdf

Discover and download the book: https://doi.org/10.4060/cb4185en

Read more about “The IUSS goes to school”


IUSS Bulletin 138 – final call for contributions

All IUSS members are kindly invited to submit their contributions for our next IUSS Bulletin 138 (to be published in June) to iuss@umweltbundesamt.at no later than 17 May 2021. We are looking forward to receiving your conference/meeting reports and reports on activities dedicated to the International Decade of Soils (2015-2024) as well as any other information you would like to share with the international soil science community. Also, we would like to continue 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).


News from national and regional soil science societies

Newsletter from the Malaysian Society of Soil Science (MSSS)

Starting out with a message from the MSSS President Dr. Rosazlin Abdullah, it contains a number of interesting articles including a review of the Soil Science Conference of Malaysia 2020 (SOILS 2020), which took place in October 2020; a tree planting programme @UCYP “Green Campus for Sustainable Biodiversity” in conjunction with World Soil Day 2020 “Keep Soil Alive, Protect Soil Biodiversity” and the MSSS International Webinar 2020 “ Soil: Forestry and Environment” held in December 2020. It is worth noting that MSSS is celebrating its 50th year of existence in 2021.

Read more: https://www.iuss.org/newsroom/newsletters/malaysian-society-of-soil-science-newsletter/


General News

Online survey for the development of a global science agenda on risk

The International Science Council (ISC), the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), and the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR) programme are launching a survey to support the development of a global Agenda for risk science, that is shaped by multiple perspectives, to guide international research, scientific collaboration and funding to strengthen the impact of science on risk management and risk reduction: https://council.science/survey-development-global-science-agenda-risk/.

The survey aims to collect feedback and inputs on the Draft Research Agenda document (https://council.science/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/THE-DRAFT-RESEARCH-AGENDA-ZOD-v5-11-April-2021.pdf). It is therefore essential that survey respondents read the draft before answering the questions.

The survey is composed of 10 open questions and will close on 5 May 2021https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/EmergingGlobalRisk2021.

[From: ISC Newsletter, 12 April 2021]


Soil erosion modelling: A global review and statistical analysis

To gain a better understanding of the global application of soil erosion prediction models, we comprehensively reviewed relevant peer-reviewed research literature on soil-erosion modelling published between 1994 and 2017. We aimed to identify (i) the processes and models most frequently addressed in the literature, (ii) the regions within which models are primarily applied, (iii) the regions which remain unaddressed and why, and (iv) how frequently studies are conducted to validate/evaluate model outcomes relative to measured data. To perform this task, we combined the collective knowledge of 67 soil-erosion scientists from 25 countries. The resulting database, named ‘Global Applications of Soil Erosion Modelling Tracker (GASEMT)’, includes 3030 individual modelling records from 126 countries, encompassing all continents (except Antarctica).

Read more: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S004896972101562X?fbclid=IwAR1_xkvOypKIuVyYJoSqbsKJtrSwVgImcui2_XU3LYHgHQERzrsfRaOIhOU


Perenniality and crop diversity enhance soil health

Soil health has received heightened interest because of its association with long‐term agricultural sustainability and ecological benefits. However, which practices are most effective at improving soil health indicators over time? To answer this, researchers measured soil health across the Biofuel Cropping Systems Experiment located at the Kellogg Biological Station in Michigan. Established in 2008, the Experiment consists of 10 systems increasing in diversity and perenniality, including four no‐till annual crops, two monoculture perennials, and four polyculture perennials. The study found that nine years post‐establishment, crop diversity enhanced soil health in both annual and perennial systems.

Read more: https://acsess.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/csan.20414

[From: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Science Policy Report: 31 March 2021]


One of Earth’s giant carbon sinks may have been overestimated

The storage potential of one of the Earth’s biggest carbon sinks – soils – may have been overestimated, research shows. This could mean ecosystems on land soaking up less of humanity’s emissions than expected, and more rapid global heating. Soils and the plants that grow in them absorb about a third of the carbon emissions that drive the climate crisis, partly limiting the impact of fossil-fuel burning. Rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere can increase plant growth and, until now, it was assumed carbon storage in soils would increase too. But the study, based on over 100 experiments, found the opposite.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/mar/24/soils-ability-to-absorb-carbon-emissions-may-be-overestimated-study

[From: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Science Policy Report: 31 March 2021]


How microbes in permafrost could trigger a massive carbon bomb

For most of human history, permafrost has been Earth’s largest terrestrial carbon sink, trapping plant and animal material in its frozen layers for centuries. It currently stores about 1,600 billion tons of carbon — more than twice the amount in the atmosphere today. But thanks to rising temperatures, permafrost is fracturing and disappearing, leaving behind dramatic changes in the landscape. Scientists are becoming increasingly worried that the thaw will lead to an epic feast for bacteria and archaea that produce carbon dioxide and methane.

Read more: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00659-y

[From: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Science Policy Report: 31 March 2021]


Is atmospheric chemosynthesis an overlooked microbial process in soil?

In Antarctica, soil bacteria dominate and drive ecosystem processes, particularly carbon and nitrogen cycling. In Eastern Antarctica, a proportion of bacteria appear to survive the freezing and severe carbon and moisture-limited conditions by depending on a hydrogen-oxidation strategy that energetically supports primary production via a new lineage of RuBisCO, Type 1E. This novel mode of chemoautotrophy, coined ‘atmospheric chemosynthesis’, is distinct from photosynthesis or geothermal chemotrophy where the consumption of ubiquitous trace levels of atmospheric gases (H2, CO & CO2), provide the energy and carbon needs for bacteria to literally ‘live on air’.

Read more: https://www.globalsoilbiodiversity.org/blog-beneath-our-feet/2021/3/31/vduifagjefcrr6qgjdgvqcvzgldvvy


We’ve got carbon capture all wrong

Carbon capture is viewed by many as a last resort. These ‘negative emissions technologies’ store or sequester more greenhouse gas emissions than they produce. These come in two main forms: nature-based solutions such as reforestation and afforestation, and more technological solutions such as direct air carbon capture and storage, enhanced weathering, biochar, and soil carbon sequestration. As a 2020 report from the International Energy Agency argues, carbon capture, utilization and storage technologies are a critical part of ‘net-zero’ goals because they enable key sectors to reduce their emissions directly, but also help to balance some of the more intractable emissions.

Read more: https://www.wired.co.uk/article/carbon-capture

[From: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Science Policy Report: 14 April 2021]


Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in soil: The dark side of nature and the bright side of life

Darwin not only revealed the origin of species in the evolutionary playground of Planet Earth, but also made us aware that the soil fauna actually acts as an engine of ecosystem functioning (Darwin 1881). This message was largely lost on the mainstream ecologists for more than 100 years (out of sight–out of mind?).

Read more: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13280-021-01507-z

[From GSBI Newsletter – April 2021]


Next Episode of “Life in the Soil” Podcast Available

Check out the latest episode of “Life in the Soil”: Soil and Global Change – The Multiple Impacts of Human Action by Dr. Matthias Rillig and colleagues.

Listen to the podcast: https://soundcloud.com/mrillig/life-in-the-soil-ep5-global-change?in=mrillig/sets/life-in-the-soil-podcast

[From GSBI Newsletter – April 2021]


Global Applications of Soil Erosion Modelling Tracker (GASEMT)

The GASEMT database provides comprehensive insights into the state-of-the-art of soil erosion models and model applications worldwide. This database intends to support the upcoming country-based United Nations global soil-erosion assessment in addition to helping inform soil erosion research priorities by building a foundation for future targeted, in-depth analyses. GASEMT is an open-source database available to the entire user-community. GASEMT is a result of reviewing 8471 scientific articles, selecting 3030 records and extracting 49 fields relevant to modelling. It is a collective effort of 67 soil-erosion modelers from 25 countries. The database is released together with two research articles: a) A global review of soil erosion models b) A bibliometric analysis.

Read more: https://esdac.jrc.ec.europa.eu/content/global-applications-soil-erosion-modelling-tracker and https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935121003819

[From ESDAC Newsletter No 130 (May 2021)]


In Memoriam: Daniel Hillel

The World Scientific Publishing (WSP) Family extends its deepest condolences to Dr. Michal Artzy and the family, friends and colleagues of Dr. Daniel Hillel, 2012 World Food Prize Laureate and WSP author, who passed away on March 9, 2021.

For his achievement that earned him the World Food Prize, Dr. Hillel proved that plants grown in continuously moist soil, achieved through micro-irrigation, produce higher yields than plants grown under flooding or sprinkler irrigation. Using less water in agriculture per unit of land not only conserves a scarce resource in arid and semi-arid regions, but also results in significantly “more crop per drop”. Expanding on these scientific findings, Hillel went on to promote water-use efficiency in dozens of countries around the world, working for and with international agencies and organizations. Dr. Hillel was also a dedicated teacher who, through his signature textbooks, literally taught thousands of students the fundamentals (or as he would say, “Da Mental Fun”) of soil and water processes.

Read more: https://www.worldscientific.com/do/10.1142/news20210322.282560/full/


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 Webinar: Soil Biodiversity and Resilience to Climate Extremes

Monday 26 April 2021 at 7am – 8:30am MDT, 3pm – 4:30pm CEST

Online event.

Join the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative for its next webinar: “Soil biodiversity and the stabilisation of carbon in the soil”. Interest in the potential for soil to store carbon is high, but our fundamental understanding of the controls on soil carbon accumulation and loss remains poor. This webinar will consider some recent advances in this topic, focusing on new understanding and theories on the stabilisation of soil carbon and how it is influenced by soil biodiversity and modified by land use and climate change.

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

[From: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Science Policy Report: 31 March 2021]


Webinar: Unraveling the Host Genetic Control of the Plant Microbiota

Monday, 6 May 2021, at 17:00 (GMT + 1:00)

This webinar will focus on the Soil Microbiome and feature Prof. Davide Bulgarelli from the University of Dundee of the James Hutton Institute (Dundee, UK), and Prof. Vincenzo M. Sellitto, Banat University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine of Timișoara Romania.

The virtual seminar is open to everyone, students, doctoral students, researchers, farmers, managers and all who want to deepen this topic.

Please send an email to thesoilalive@gmail.com to request participation to this webinar, indicating your nationality and title job.

Deadline for registration: 5 May 2020


The ISRIC Summer School

May 17 – 19, 2021


Read more: https://www.isric.org/utilise/capacity-building/springschool


Ibero-American Workshop on Paleopedology and Geoarchaeology (PaleoIber 2021)

June 7 – 9, 2021

Online, in Spanish

Announcement: https://cutt.ly/FvIe9cu

Flyer: https://cutt.ly/CvZQTya

Schedule: https://cutt.ly/2vZQ2Zj

Registration: https://forms.gle/FzPTUzPDW88DrsVKA


Iberian Congress on Soils and Sustainable Development

17 – 18 June 2021


The congress will be organised by the Faculty of Science of the University of Porto (Portugal), in collaboration with other Iberian institutions (universities and research centers). It will address topics such as: 1) Environmental pollution and risk assessment; 2) Urban soils (including compaction and waterproofing); 3) Impacts of climate change on soils and edaphic communities; 4) Soil biodiversity; 5) Indicators of soil quality; 6) Remote sensing applied to mapping and land management; 7) Citizen science at the service of best soil management and conservation practices; 8) Soil salinization; 9) Emerging pollutants; 10) Recovery of organic wastes; 11) Soil functions and ecosystem services; and 12) Soil organic matter and other threats (erosion, desertification, natural disasters).

Submission of abstracts ends on May 15, 2021

Read more: https://www.cisds2020.com


WRB Summer 2021

June 20 – 25, 2021, Torun, Poland: planned in presence.

Read more: https://sites.google.com/site/summerwrb/home


First IUSS Conference on Sodic Soil Reclamation

July 30 and Aug. 1, 2021; Changchun, China

!Postponed from Sept. 2020!

Deadline for abstract submission: June 1, 2021

Deadline for full text of paper: July 1, 2021

Website: http://ssr.csp.escience.cn



The Soil Classification Congress of the IUSS Commission Soil Classification in Mexico

Postponed to March/April 2022

The new dates are:

March 24: Arrival at Monterrey airport and transfer to Cuatro Ciénegas.

March 25 – 29: Field Workshop from Cuatro Ciénegas to Querétaro.

March 30 – April 1: Conference in Querétaro (abstract submission until November 30).

April 4 – 9: Additional courses: course soil classification and course soil quality indicators.

The website will be updated soon: http://iscc2020.org/


ISCRAES 2022 – The 2nd International Symposium on Climate-Resilient Agri-Environmental Systems

7-10 June 2022, Dublin, IRELAND

The main theme “Implementing the New Green Deal: The Path Towards Sustainable Agriculture“, is to achieve a sustainable Europe and the planet by tackling current environmental, climate, and societal challenges faced by the world.

Abstract submission deadline: December 31, 2021

Early bird registration deadline: January 31, 2022

Symposium website: https://www.iscraes.org

Contact email: info@iscraes.org

Download flyer: https://www.iuss.org/media/iscraes_2022_flyer_03-04-22.pdf


2021 ASA, CSSA, SSSA International Annual Meeting – A Creative Economy For Sustainable Development

7-10 Nov. 2021

Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

Join us for the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) International Annual Meeting. Interested in presenting? Anyone can submit and most are accepted! Gain professional recognition and presentation experience, all while expanding your CV/vita, sharing information for all to succeed, and fostering collaborations with your peers. Don’t have the detail you need to submit an abstract? No problem! Abstracts at this point are simply “holding slots” that reserve your spot in the desired session. Submit now and update later!

Registration opens: April 15, 2021

Final abstract submission deadline: July 13, 2021

Read more: https://www.acsmeetings.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

The magical world of soil biodiversity – A collection of 10 children’s stories from around the world

Published by FAO and IUSS, Rome, Italy, 2021. 168 pages, ISBN: 978-92-5-134249-7

In the framework of World Soil Day 2020, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS), and the Global Soil Partnership (GSP) launched a children’s book contest on Soil Biodiversity with the motto “Keep soil alive, protect soil biodiversity”. The book contest on soil biodiversity has given visibility to the importance of soil organisms and raised awareness on the urgency of protecting soil biodiversity. The soil biodiversity book competition highlights the importance of soil organisms and raises awareness of the urgent need to protect soil biodiversity among a young audience (children aged 6-11 years). This collection of 10 stories includes the best entries received from a total of 80 books spanning over 60 countries.

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

Download the pdf: http://www.fao.org/documents/card/en/c/cb4185en


Fieldwork Ready: An Introductory Guide to Field Research for Agriculture, Environment, and Soil Scientists

By Sara E. Vero, published in March 2021, 272 Pages, paperback ISBN: 978-0-891-18375-4, price USD 55.00, eBook ISBN: 978-0-891-18380-8, price USD 44.00.

Discover how to plan, conduct, and interpret field research with this essential new guidebook.

Good field research is the driving force behind advancement in the agronomic, environmental, and soil sciences. Nevertheless, many undergraduate and graduate scientists have limited opportunity to develop hands-on experience before undertaking projects in the field. With Fieldwork Ready, Dr Sara Vero maps out the fundamental principles, methods, and management techniques that underpin this crucial practice, offering trainee researchers an accessible introduction to the world of on-site investigation.

Read more: https://www.wiley.com/en-us/Fieldwork+Ready%3A+An+Introductory+Guide+to+Field+Research+for+Agriculture%2C+Environment%2C+and+Soil+Scientists-p-9780891183754


Hydrogeology, Chemical Weathering, and Soil Formation

Edited by Allen Hunt, Markus Egli and Boris Faybishenko. Published by the American Geophysical Union in April 2021, 288 Pages, ISBN 978-1-119-56396-9, price hardback: USD 199.95, eBook ISBN 978-1-119-56400-3, price USD 160.00.

This book explores soil as a nexus for water, chemicals, and biologically coupled nutrient cycling. Soil is a narrow but critically important zone on Earth’s surface. It is the interface for water and carbon recycling from above and part of the cycling of sediment and rock from below.

Hydrogeology, Chemical Weathering, and Soil Formation places chemical weathering and soil formation in its geological, climatological, biological and hydrological perspective.

Volume highlights include the evolution of soils over 3.25 billion years, basic processes contributing to soil formation, how chemical weathering and soil formation relate to water and energy fluxes, the role of pedogenesis in geomorphology, relationships between climate soils and biota; soils, aeolian deposits, and crusts as geologic dating tools; impacts of land-use change on soils.

Read more: https://www.wiley.com/en-us/Hydrogeology%2C+Chemical+Weathering%2C+and+Soil+Formation-p-9781119564003


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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