IUSS Alert - 47 (March 2009)

Information for and from the global soil science community

New IUSS Secretary General and Deputy

At the Council Meeting in Brisbane I indicated that, after two terms in office, I would step down as Secretary General in 2010. The President, Roger Swift has established, under the Chairmanship of former President Don Sparks, a Search Committee for a new Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General. Brief outlines of the posts are available at the IUSS website, click here. Colleagues wishing to be considered for the position or to suggest possible candidates should contact Don Sparks at

Stephen Nortcliff

Secretary General

GlobalSoilMap.net - a new digital soil map of the world

GlobalSoilMap.net is a new global project that aims to make a new digital soil map of the world using state-of-the-art and emerging technologies for soil mapping and predicting soil properties. It was launched in New York in February. The new digital map will consist of primary functional soil properties at a grid resolution of 90 by 90 m. It will be freely available, web-accessible and widely distributed. GlobalSoilMap.net was initiated by the IUSS Working Group on Digital Soil Mapping in 2006. The consortium, which is led by ISRIC - World Soil Information (Wageningen, Netherlands), includes the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (Ispra, Italy), the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (Canberra, Australia), the University of Sydney (Sydney, Australia), the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Nanjing, China), the Earth Institute at Columbia University (New York, USA), the US Department of Agriculture - Natural Resources Conservation Service (Morgantown, USA), IRD (Montpellier, France), the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa, Rio de Janeiro) and CIAT-TSBF (Nairobi, Kenya). For more information visit  www.globalsoilmap.net which also has a press release. 

International Meeting in South Korea

9th East and Southeast Asian Federation of Soil Science, 27-20 October 2009, Seoul, S Korea. The main theme of this international meeting is Soils as a Convergent Technology in Tandem with Human and Ecosystem Health-Enhancement of Soil Performances for Well-being. The 9th ESAFS will be comprised of plenary and invited lectures, symposia and technical sessions including poster presentation. The official language in the conference is English. Symposia include: Soil engineering and technology for human and ecosystem health, Plant nutrition and human welfare, Asia-centric soil informatics, Paddy soils: Better performances for human and ecosystem health. Field Tours include: Designated Districts for Environmentally Sound Agriculture where participants can experience soil survey, research facilities, farming system, temple, ceramic arts, museums etc. Contact persons are Dr. Chung, Doug Young (Chair of Organizing Committee) and Dr. Yang, Jae E. (Secretary General)  

Innovative Earth-Related Learning Ideas

Earth Learning Idea (ELI) was developed as an internet-based support network for teacher trainers and teachers of earth science across the globe, by providing educational resources that will promote interactive teaching and the development of investigational and thinking skills, whilst provoking educational debate - minimizing costs by using voluntary effort and commitment wherever practicable. ELI was established in 2007 as a run-up to the International Year of Planet Earth (IYPE) with its primary activity in the 2008 IYPE. By early November their website had over 8500 visits from 115 countries. The response was so encouraging that ELI will continue the project into 2009. See the Earth Learning Idea website at www.earthlearningidea.com

What is a soil (in French)

We are pleased to announce that a presentation of the soil research programmes run by the IRD (Institut de Recherche pour le Developpement) is now available on-line here. It is part of a series of thematic presentations entitled 'Suds en ligne', devoted to the IRD's research programmes. This presentation has been awarded the 'International Year of Planet Earth' label, in recognition of the scientific value of the soil studies undertaken by IRD towards the sustainable development of our planet.

Couple of New Books

Amazonian Dark Earths: Wim Sombroek's Vision, edited by W.I. Woods, W.G. Teixeira, J. Lehmann, C. Steiner, A. WinklerPrins, and L. Rebellato. Springer, 2009. IBSN 978-1-4020-9030-1. Amazonian soils are almost universally thought of as extremely forbidding. However, it is now clear that complex societies with large, sedentary populations were present for over a millennium before European contact. Associated with these are tracts of anomalously fertile, dark soils termed terra preta or black earths. These soils are presently an important agricultural resource within Amazonia and provide a model for developing long-term future sustainability of food production in tropical environments. The late Dutch soil scientist, Wim Sombroek (1934-2003) was instrumental in bringing the significance of these soils to the attention of the world over four decades ago. A free association of international scholars termed the Terra Preta Nova Group came together in 2001 and has been very productive, including this volume. Its introductory comments and 28 chapters written by 73 authors relate the latest findings in landscape history, indigenous practices, soil development, soil chemistry, anthropology, and archaeology, and the implications of those to modern social and land stewardship issues.

Soil Memory: Soil as a Memory of Biosphere-Geosphere-Anthroposphere Interaction, by  V.O. Targulian, S.V. Goryachkin (eds.). Moscow, 2008 692 p. (In Russian with the extended English introduction and summary). The concept of soil memory is one of the promising areas in the development of pedology. Its core is the perception of soils and earth's soil cover, or pedosphere, as particular carriers and accumulators of information on the evolution and interaction of all the Earth spheres. Soil and pedosphere are considered to be a memory of interactions in the biosphere-geosphere-anthroposphere. Basic concept and empiric developments of soil memory (the ability to record factors and processes of pedogenesis in soil solid phase) are elucidated in the special scientific monograph for the first time. The memory of different models of pedogenesis and its combination with sedimentation is analyzed in application to the natural and anthropogenic environments. Potential information capacity of the main hierarchical levels of soil memory from the level of individual soil particles up to the level of soil cover as well as the problem of polymorphism and isomorphism of memory in respect of environment are discussed. Special chapters are in concern with detail analysis of mineral and biogenic memory carriers, such as sand and silt particles, clay minerals, secondary carbonates, Mn-Fe nodules, cutans, soil porosity, humus, biomorphic particles, etc. You can order and read more about this book here.

Addressing soil degradation in EU agriculture: relevant processes, practices and policies, JRC, 2009.  This report presents the findings of a stock-taking of the current situation with respect to soil degradation processes, soil-friendly farming practices and relevant policy measures within an EU-wide perspective. This overview includes the results of the survey on the national/regional implementation of EU policies and national policies, a classification of the described soil degradation processes, soil conservation practices and policy measures, and finally the outcome of the Stakeholder Workshop which took place in 2008. The report can be freely downloaded here.

Biophysico/Chemical Processes of Heavy Metals and Metalloids in Soil Environments, A. Violante, P.M. Huang, G. M. Gadd (Eds), John Wiley & Sons. 2008. ISBN 978-0-471-73778-0 This volume, which consists of 15 Chapters, is organized into three sections dealing with:  (i) Fundamentals on Biotic and Abiotic Interactions of Trace Metals and Metalloids with Soil Components, (ii) Transformations and Dynamics of Metals and Metalloids as Influenced by Soil-Root-Microbe Interactions, and (iii) Speciation, Mobility and Bioavailability of Trace Metals and Metalloids, and Restoration of Contaminated Soils. This book, contributed by a multidisciplinary group of soil and environmental scientists, provides the scientific community with a critical evaluation of the state-of-the-art on the fundamentals of reactions and processes of these elements in soil environments. The book is an important guide to scientists interested in environmental sciences, soil chemistry and mineralogy, soil biochemistry, soil microbiology, and plant nutrition and physiology for understanding the biophysico-chemical processes of these pollutants in soil environments. The latest advances in spectroscopy to study various aspects of heavy metal and metalloid interactions with soil inorganic and organic components are reviewed.

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