IUSS Alert - 46 (February 2009)

Information for and from the global soil science community

Call for nominations: Dokuchaev and von Liebig Award

Two awards are presented by IUSS at each World Congress of Soil Science (WCSS) to recognize outstanding contributions in two specific areas:

- IUSS-Dokuchaev Award for basic research in soil sciences

- IUSS-Liebig Award for applied research in soil sciences

These two awards are differentiated by the type of contribution rendered, not by professional membership grouping. Eligible are members of the International Union of Soil Sciences. Only one award can be given to one person or group of persons during one year. Further information please contact Winfried Blum at

New Newsletter

A new issue of Pedometron has been published in December. This issue of the newsletter contains exciting information from the first ever joint meeting of the Soil Science Society of America and the Geological Society of America! This was a particularly exciting meeting for those of us in the soil science community who straddle the line between geology and soil science. It also celebrates the life of Roy Simonson, a great soil scientist who passed away in 2008. Additional information includes happenings at the German Society of Soil Science, information on new opportunities to publish, and lists of new books and journal articles that came out recently. I hope everyone finds something of interest in this issue! Any and all submissions for future newsletters are welcomed! These may include short articles, book reviews, and news items. Please send such materials to Eric Brevik at

Sessions at the upcoming EGU meeting (April 2009)

The scale problem in soil erosion studies. Understanding the implications of scale is an important challenge in soil erosion studies. Different soil erosion processes are active or dominant at different spatial scales. The different erosion processes result in heterogeneous erosion and sediment transport rates and resultant landforms: from soil microtopography to rills and gullies and ultimately large catchment-scale landscapes. Understanding sediment transport and deposition is crucial for interpretation of erosion rates at different scales. As a scale-dependent process soil erosion is controlled by numerous thresholds and feedbacks. A review of this concept and its contribution to understand the scale effect on erosion processes will be highlighted through papers submitted to the session. Click here for more info.

Vegetation and erosion. Since the work of the USDA in the 1940s, it has been widely accepted that vegetation cover is a key control on the rate of overland flow runoff and soil erosion relative to rates on bare soil. It has become commonplace to attribute catastrophic erosion almost universally to vegetation removal. Conversely re-vegetation, and in particular afforestation has been seen as a universal solution to Land Degradation. Because agricultural crops commonly leave the ground poorly protected during critical rainfall periods. New models are now emerging to simulate the dynamics of grazing behaviour and its impact on erosion. Contributions are invited in all these fields to improve our theoretical and empirical understanding of the spatial and temporal relationships between vegetation, runoff and erosion, particularly but not exclusively for semi-arid areas including the Mediterranean. Click here for more info.

Bridging the Centuries: 1909-2009

Celebration of 100 years of soil science, Hungary

The 1st International Conference of Agrogeology was held 14-27 April, 1909, in Budapest, Hungary. The celebration of the legacy from Agrogeology and the 100 years of advances in soil science are organized as a series of meetings to be held Budapest in September 2009. Central event: 'Bridging the Centuries: 1909 - 2009' will be a one-day conference followed by a one-day of field excursion on 16 and 17 September, 2009. The conference will take place in the same buildings of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Geological Institute of Hungary, and the field excursion will visit some of the same locations, where the participants (including Glinka, Murgoci, Ramann, Sigmond and others) of the 1909 conference discussed their ideas on soils.  Complementary events will be organized before and after the central event as follows. The annual plenary meeting of the European Soil Bureau Network 14-15 September, 2009 From the Dokuchaev School to numerical soil classifications 18 September, 2009. IUSS Conference and field excursion on Salinization 20-22 September, 2009 For further information contact or

Couple of New Books

Soils in the Humid Tropics and Monsoon Region of Indonesia, by K.H. Tan. CRC Press, 2008. ISBN 10: 1420069071 Highlighting the vast differences in tropical climate, from hot and humid to cool and arctic, this book explores the climate, soil zones, and altitudinal variation in soil formation. The author explores the changes in geomorphology, especially in climate and vegetation above sea level, that have yielded zones of different soils.  The book makes accessible hard-to-find information translated from Dutch archives. Informally divided into two parts, it begins with coverage of the development of soil science in Indonesia. The author reviews the geography and geomorphology of the archipelago, climate, vegetation, and mineralization and humification processes as factors of soil formation. The second part examines the major soils, their genesis, properties, taxonomy, land use, and evaluation. The discussion moves from lowlands, to uplands, then mountains, and concludes with andosols found in the mountains as well as in the lowlands.  Focused and timely, this book knits new knowledge with old but important information that has been previously difficult to access.

Hormones and Pharmaceuticals Generated by Concentrated Animal Feeding Hormones and Pharmaceuticals Generated by Concentrated Animal Feeding OperationsOperations Transport in Water and Soil, by Shore, Laurence S.; Pruden, Amy (Eds.) Springer, 2009. ISBN: 978-0-387-92833-3. This book examines how hormones, antibiotics and pharmaceuticals generated from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) of cattle, poultry, swine and aquaculture are transported in water and soil.  Little is known of the environmental fate of the tons of physiologically active steroid hormones released each year.  In their own regard, in the last 20 years considerable attention has been given to a wide variety of natural and anthropomorphic agents known as endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs).  Until the contribution of steroid hormones to the environment are better defined, it will be difficult to quantify the exact impact of EDCs.  While some advances in the understanding of the fate of these compounds in water has been made, little is known about the processes that govern their transport in soil or how they eventually reach groundwater.  As this book discusses extensively, it is somewhat of a mystery how steroids, with their lipophilic nature, strong binding to humic acids and extensive metabolism by soil bacteria, can be transported through even a few centimeters of soil, let alone 20 to 40 meters to the groundwater.  With respect to antibiotics, the emphasis is on their fate and transport in the environment and on the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria.  Impacts on soil ecology, including the impact of antibiotics on the metabolism of other active agents, is also discussed.

Laboratory and Field Testing of Unsaturated Soils, by Tarantino, Alessandro; Romero, Laboratory and Field Testing of Unsaturated SoilsEnrique; Cui, Yu-Jun (Eds.) Springer, 2009. ISBN: 978-1-4020-8818-6. This collection focuses on recent advances in laboratory and field testing of unsaturated soils. Leading researchers from fourteen countries to represent global research in the area of experimental unsaturated soil mechanics have been invited to contribute to this book. Twelve reports are presented dealing with measurement and control of suction and water content, mechanical, hydraulic, and geo-environmental testing, microstructure investigation, and applications of unsaturated soil monitoring to engineering behaviour of geo-structures. The main motivation behind this book is the rapid growth of experimental unsaturated soil mechanics over the last couple of decades. Several innovative laboratory and field techniques have been introduced in mechanical, hydraulic, and geo-environmental testing. However, this information is widely dispersed in journals and conference proceedings and researchers and engineers beginning to work in the field of unsaturated soil mechanics may find it difficult to identify suitable equipment and instrumentation for research or professional purposes

Principles of Soil Conservation and Management, by H. Blanco & R. Principles of Soil Conservation and ManagementLal. Springer, 2008. ISBN: 978-1-4020-8708-0. 'Principles of Soil Management and Conservation' comprehensively reviews the state-of-knowledge on soil erosion and management. It discusses in detail soil conservation topics in relation to soil productivity, environment quality, and agronomic production. It addresses the implications of soil erosion with emphasis on global hotspots and synthesizes available from developed and developing countries. It also critically reviews information on no-till management, organic farming, crop residue management for industrial uses, conservation buffers (e.g., grass buffers, agroforestry systems), and the problem of hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico and in other regions. This book uniquely addresses the global issues including carbon sequestration, net emissions of CO2, and erosion as a sink or source of C under different scenarios of soil management. It also deliberates the implications of the projected global warming on soil erosion and vice versa. The concern about global food security in relation to soil erosion and strategies for confronting the remaining problems in soil management and conservation are specifically addressed.


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