IUSS Alert 123 (September 2015)
The Value of Land - 2015 ELD Report
Land degradation is an increasing issue globally, exacerbated by climate change and affecting food security, threatening water resources and ultimately acting as a driver to migration. The ELD study, undertaken over the past 4 years, quantifies the costs of land degradation and sets out a universal approach for quantifying the economic benefits of sustainable land management. It aims to enable decision makers to better understand the overall costs and benefits when implementing policies and actions dealing with land. The Economics of Land Degradation (ELD) Initiative is a platform for discussion between stakeholders from the policy, science, and private sectors that focuses on developing globally-relevant data on the economic benefits of land and land-based ecosystems. Aiming at these target groups, the initiative has compiled specific reports: one primary main report, and a parallel report geared towards policy and decision-makers. These were launched and presented in Brussels in September 15, 2015.
Download the new reports The Value of Land’ & ‘ELD report for policy & decison makers.
Apply now for the Land and Soil Management Award 2015/16!
The prize rewards land use and soil management practices mitigating 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.
IUGS émile Argand Award - Call for Nominations
A prize to be called the STENO Award was created and agreed by the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) Executive Committee (EC) and Council during the 34th International Geological Congress (IGC) in Brisbane, 2012, to be awarded for the first time during the 35th IGC Opening Ceremony in Cape Town in 2016. Due to the fact that the Danish Geological Society traditionally distributes a STENO prize, it is necessary to rename the IUGS award as the IUGS émile Argand Award. The IUGS émile Argand award is intended to honour an active senior geoscientist of high international recognition and an outstanding scientific record. Nominations can be made by anyone in the IUGS community and should be forwarded to the EC not later than 3 months after the call. Accordingly, deadline for nominations is 15 December 2015 at the latest.
Call: Nominations for the Scientific Committee for Health and Wellbeing in the Changing Urban Environment: a Systems Analysis Approach
The Programme for Health and Wellbeing in the Changing Urban Environment: a Systems Analysis Approach, co-sponsored by the International Council for Science (ICSU), the InterAcademy Medical Panel (IAMP) and the United Nations University (UNU), will bring together leading global researchers working in disciplines related to urban health and wellbeing to define the strategic and thematic priorities and the medium- and long-term outcomes and activities of the programme. The Scientific Committee (SC) is charged with guiding and overseeing the implementation of the science plan.
The Programme’s co-sponsors are now inviting nominations for 6-8 individuals to serve on this Committee. New SC Members will be appointed jointly by the Co-Sponsors’ organizations, with the final decision on the committee membership to be made by the ICSU Executive Board in April 2016. The term of office is three years, starting 1 June 2016 and potentially renewable once. The main criterion for selection is scientific expertise, from a range of disciplines covering natural, social, behavioural and health sciences as well as areas such as urban planning and engineering.
All nominations should be submitted by 19 October 2015 to
Declining Use of Soil Classification
In the past 40 years, much time has been spent in a relatively small part of the soil science community on developing soil classification systems. Although there has been criticism on the products, it has yielded enormous insight on what soils are, and how they could be grouped taxonomically or for environmental or agricultural purposes. An analysis how soil classification and factor and soil property naming have been used in journal papers between 1975 and 2014 found that there is an exponential increase in the use of Taxonomy and WRB, but factor and property naming in soil science papers increases much faster than Taxonomy and WRB.
Intensifying agriculture threatens soil diversification
New research suggests that soil biodiversity is on the decline. 2015 is the International Year of Soils and the U.N. General Assembly hopes to increase awareness of soil’s important role.
Source: Christian Science Monitor, 04 September 2015
Has farming become a soil-forming factor?
From erosion to acidification to loss of organic matter, the impacts of agriculture on topsoil are well known. But an open access paper in the July-August 2015 issue of the Soil Science Society of America Journal now suggests that farming’s effects on soil actually go much deeper. In a study that examined how soils across Iowa have evolved during 50 years of agricultural use, Iowa State University scientists Jessica Veenstra and Lee Burras uncovered the usual changes in surface soils that come with plowing and fertilizing, including acidification and damaged soil structure.
FAO Soil Quiz
Do you know what is a healthy soil, or how long it takes for one centimetre of soil to form? Test your knowledge about soils! 15 questions to test your soil knowledge.
The dirt on soil: Underground biodiversity holds key to ecosystems
Biodiversity below ground is almost as important to an ecosystem as the life above ground, a new study finds. The often overlooked underground world of worms, insects and bacteria plays a greater role in supporting ecosystems than previously realized, according to a study released Wednesday. Earlier research had established that ecosystems can carry out more functions more efficiently when there is greater above-ground biodiversity, but a study released Wednesday in Nature Communications, indicates that below-ground biodiversity is nearly as important to a properly functioning ecosystem.
Four new films about the fascinating world of soils
The world beneath our feet is amazing! NRCS’ Amy Overstreet talks about the discoveries she’s made throughout her exploration during the International Year of Soils
Just What the Doctor Ordered. Face it: We have been brought up to believe that all bugs are bad bugs. But the fact is, most bugs, or shall we say microbes—which includes bacteria and fungi— are actually good. And what’s more, microbes produce compounds which they use to defend themselves against their fellow microbes. These are naturally produced antibiotics.
The Science of Soil Health: Nature’s Way of Extracting Minerals from Soil. Through respiration, soil microbes provide key benefit to plants.
Soils Protect the Natural Environment: Which soil is under your feet? Well, that depends on where you are. But, no matter where you live, soils protect the natural environment around you. No matter where you live, there is soil under you. And, it is a resource we need to protect, because soils sustain life.
Topsoil physical properties at European scale (using LUCAS topsoil)
The LUCAS topsoil database was used to map soil properties over the geographical extent of Europe. Several soil properties were predicted using hybrid approaches like regression kriging (topsoil texture and related derived physical properties). Regression models were fitted using, among other variables, remotely sensed data coming from the MODIS sensor. The high temporal resolution of MODIS allowed detecting changes in the vegetative response due to soil properties, which can then be used to map the distribution of soil features. Cross validation of the fitted models proved that the LUCAS dataset constitutes a good sample for mapping purposes. Predicted properties: Clay content(), Silt con¬tent(), Sand content(), Coarse fragments(), Bulk density, USDA soil texture, Available Water Capacity.
Soil erosion by water (RUSLE2015) in Europe
At a resolution of 100m, this is the most detailed assessment yet of soil erosion by water for the EU. The study applied a modified version of the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) model, RUSLE 2015, which delivers improved estimates based on higher resolution (100 m compared to 1 km) peer-reviewed inputs of rainfall, soil, topography, land use and management for the year 2010 (the last year for which most of the input factors were esti-mated). The model can be used to predict the effect of a range of policy scenarios. It is also replicable, comparable and can be extended to model other regions. All the input layers (Rainfall Erosivity, Soil Erodibility, Cover-Management, Topography and Support Practices) have been peer reviewed and published as well. The soil erosion dataset for the European Union (EU-28) at 100m resolution is available.
European Soil Data Centre (ESDAC)
The European Soil Data Centre (ESDAC) is the thematic centre for soil related data in Europe. It is the single reference point for relevant soil data and information at European level. It contains a number of resources that are organized and presented in various ways: datasets, services/applications, maps, documents, events, projects and external links. After more than 10-years of service, the European Soil Portal is replaced with the ESDAC. A new portal was developed incorporating all data and information from the European Soil Portal. The new portal is more dynamic, with better look and feel and with emphasis on data.
European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) new data
New data has become available in relation to “Scenario Selection and Scenario Parameterisation for Permanent Crops and Row Crops on Ridges in Support of Predicting Environmental Concentrations of Plant Protection Products and Their Transformation Products in Soil” (OC/EFSA/ PRAS/2013/01). A database was compiled of the spatial distribution of permanent crops in the EU. A total of 2013 combinations of crop, soil and climate (‘plots’) were parameterised in GeoPEARL model.
New Zealand Soil Treasures
Dr Allan Hewitt recently unearthed (from storage boxes retrieved from a condemned building at Lincoln University) a field trowel belonging to Norman Taylor. In Allan’s words “It is a beauty and labelled as Taylor’s trowel used in the Northland soil survey”. It is a great piece of New Zealand soil science history and we are keen to find out more about it and preserve and recognise its significance. If you know anything of its history we would like to hear from you. Also, as part of IYS celebrations the Council are keen for your ideas on how we may recognise its importance to New Zealand soil science, maybe part of a new or existing award, or in any other way. So, please contact us with your ideas.
Source: New Zealand Soil News – Newsletter of the New Zealand Society of Soil Science; ISSN 0545-7904 (Print), ISSN 1178-8968(Online), Volume 63, Number 3, August 2015
Activites of the New Zealand Society of Soil Science in the IYS
The new website of the New Zealand Society of Soil Science is now live – do check it out and forward links to anyone who may be interested. It has some great info about NZ soils and suggestions for soil activities that will inform and entertain.
IYS posters, brochures and stickers: See the NZ Society of Soil Sciences website to download kiwi style “Ilovesoils” logos and our IYS poster and brochures. Copies of stickers, posters and brochures are still available free from
The importance of soil science research in New Zealand is amply demonstrated by the wide range of soils related research that is currently being carried out at various institutions in the Canterbury region. A series of 10 weekly seminars in September, October and November this year seeks to highlight the scope and quality of this research. Location: Commerce Lecture Room 1 (C1) – Lincoln University Time: Fridays 3.00-4.00pm [11 September to 20 November]
Source: New Zealand Soil News – Newsletter of the New Zealand Society of Soil Science; ISSN 0545-7904 (Print), ISSN 1178-8968(Online), Volume 63, Number 3, August 2015
Conferences, Meetings and Workshops
10th SmartSOIL Final Conference Brussels, September 30, 2015
SmartSOIL is an EU-funded project which identified and developed options to increase C stocks and optimise C use (flows) whilst maintaining sustainable SOC stocks. The conference seeks to bring together stakeholders, such as representatives of the European Parliament, European Commission, farmers’ unions and advisory services, NGOs, Member States and regional authorities, as well as researchers.
11th Workshop GLOBAL SOIL PARTNERSHIP: from theory to practice EXPO Milan, September 30, 2015
This workshop aims at giving voice to the mission of the Global Soil Partnership for creating and promoting awareness of the soil resources in any social and cultural sphere. Some study cases will show the key role of the correct land management for both maintaining the environmental balance and protecting the soil ecosystem services.
Workshop SOILS OF ITALY – genesis, distribution, classification and risks between current reality and future expectations, EXPO Milan, September 30, 2015
Aim of this workshop is to illustrate the main features of the Italian soils, with emphasis to their genesis, distribution, classification and threats faced by such our priceless natural heritage.
Giving soils a voice: European Network on Soil Awareness (ENSA) 2015 Conference, EXPO Milan, October 21-22, 2015
In the context of the International Year of Soils, and the World Exposition ‘Feeding the planet – Energy for life’, you are cordially invited to participate to the ‘Giving soils a voice’ workshop – the fourth meeting of European Network of Soil Awareness (ENSA) – supported by the European Commission’s Joint Research Center (JRC). The meeting will be held at the EU Pavilion on the EXPO Milano 2015 site on 21/10/2015 and at the nearby JRC site in Ispra (Varese) on 22/10/2015 .
Lysimeters – separating processes in flux measurement, International Workshop, Umwelt-Geräte-Technik GmbH, Freising, Germany; October 21-23, 2015
Lysimeters are a proven tool for ecosystem studies. They are the reference system for matter and energy fluxes in rather undisturbed systems. Big enough to provide a root space for representative plant stands, they measure precise and detailed enough to describe fluxes at high resolution. Pesticide leaching, and greenhouse gas emissions can be quantified for the well defined lysimeter volume. Advanced measurement tools allow to separate processes in water and gas transfer, while the lysimeter forms the integral frame. Isotopic compositions help to distinct sources of greenhouse gas emissions, and detailed sap flow measurements allow separating through plants from soil surface fluxes. The workshop will give insight on the latest research on lysimeters with a specific focus on process separation with modern analysis tools. In addition, practical demonstrations for lysimeter excavation and instrumentation are given. Online data access tools help to bring the results seamlessly on the desk of the researcher. With registration until October 9th, the fee is 150€ for full registration and 110€ for students. After October 9th the fee is 175€ for full registration and 135€ for students. The workshop fee includes lunches, coffee and cake and the participation in the Bavarian evening. In the week after the workshop we give the possibility for a lysimeter excursion with a visit of several lysimeter stations. If you are interested, please inform us with your registration.
Colloque AGéBio 2015 – Soil and water bioengineering: skills, regulations and benefits, Lyon, France; November 23-25, 2015
International Symposium on Biodiversity, Agriculture, Environment and Forestry sponsored by Association for the Advancement of Biodiversity Science (AABS), Fortune Resort Sullivan Court, Ooty, Tamil Nadu, India, December 11-12, 2015
For more details about the symposium registration, abstract submission and for the submission of application towards FABSc and AABS Annual Awards, write your interest with detailed CV to
Intersol 2016: Sites & Sols Pollués / Polluted Sites & Soils, Lille, France, March 15-17, 2016
Call for Papers Deadline: November 4, 2015. The 2016 conference will be under the heading: Polluted sites and soils and health risks; diagnosis and solutions: how far can we go?
1st International Conference on Advances in Soil Sciences (ICASS 2016), Mediterranean Azur Hotel, Cornish Road, Roushdy, Alexandria, Egypt, May 2-5, 2016
The conference is organized to facilitate the exchange of information and views among scientists and stakeholders involved in land resources research, land management and land use policy planning.. Main topics of the conference: soil policy and the future of land; remote sensing applications in soil sciences, digital soil mapping, soil genesis and classification, soil chemistry, soil fertility and plant nutrition, soil hydrology, soil management and reclamation, land degradation and environmental hazards; land conservation, soil biodiversity, advances in soil micromorphology, climate change impacts; soil carbon and organic matter, land and water use management, precision farming and agricultural sustainability and climate change.
Soil Science and Plant Nutrition special issue on ‘Soils of anthropized environments’ and ‘Special section of key note lectures during last WCSS in Jeju, South Korea’
published by Taylor & Francis Asia Pacific, Singapore. T&F Asia Pacific are currently offering free access to all the articles in this special issue until the end of October 2015.
ASA (American Society of Agronomy), CSSA (Crop Science Society of America), and SSSA (Soils Science Society of America) to launch new open access journal
Agricultural & Environmental Letters (AEL), a new digital journal, was officially launched on Sept. 1, 2015. Agricultural & Environmental Letters is an open access journal that will publish broad-reaching, exceptionally interesting, transformative, and timely research on major scientific, policy, and economic issues that span the entire range of the agricultural and environmental sciences. Rapid global communication is becoming more important, and AEL has been created to facilitate this communication.
Volcanic Rocks and Soils
byTatiana Rotonda, Manuela Cecconi, Francesco Silvestri, Paolo Tommasi. September 15, 2015 by CRC Press, 200 pages, ISBN 9781138028869. Price Book + CD 124,10 £. Volcanic rocks and soils show a peculiar mechanical behaviour at both laboratory and in-situ scale due to their typical structural characters. Volcanic rocks and soils contains keynote lectures and papers from the International Workshop held in Ischia (Italy), 24-25 September 2015. The book deals with recent developments and advancements, as well as case histories, in the geotechnical characterization and engineering applications related to volcanic formations. Volcanic Rocks and Soils is of interest to scientists and practitioners in the fields of rock and soil mechanics, geotechnical engineering, engineering geology and geology.
Biochar: Production, Characterization, and Applications
by Yong Sik Ok, Sophie M. Uchimiya, Scott X. Chang, Nanthi Bolan. September 18, 2015 by CRC Press, Series: Urbanization, Industrialization, and the Environment, 416 pages, 5 color & 63 B/W illustrations, ISBN 781482242294 . Price Hardcover 54,39 £. Biochar: Production, Characterization, and Applications covers the fundamentals of biochar including its concept, production technology, and characterization. The book builds on this foundation by providing examples of state-of-the-art biochar application technology in agronomy and environmental sciences, along with detailed case studies. Edited by a group of well-known biochar experts and including chapters written by a group of international experts in their field, this valuable resource can be used both as a textbook for graduate courses or as a handbook for policy makers and practitioners in the field.
Soil Liquefaction: A Critical State Approach, Second Edition
by Mike Jefferies, Ken Been. September 21, 2015 by CRC Press, Series: Applied Geotechnics, 690 pages, 386 B/W illustrations, ISBN 781482213683. Price Hardcover 102,00 £. Soil Liquefaction has become widely cited. It is built on the principle that liquefaction can, and must, be understood from mechanics. This second edition is developed from this premise in three respects: with the inclusion of silts and sandy silts commonly encountered as mine tailings, by an extensive treatment of cyclic mobility and the cyclic simple shear test, and through coverage from the “element” scale seen in laboratory testing to the evaluation of “boundary value problems” of civil and mining engineering. As a mechanics-based approach is necessarily numerical, detailed derivations are provided for downloadable open-code software (in both Excel/VBA and C++) including code verifications and validations. The “how-to-use” aspects have been expanded as a result of many conversations with other engineers, and these now cover the derivation of soil properties from laboratory testing through to assessing the in situ state by processing the results of cone penetration testing. Downloadable software is supplied.
Advances in Agronomy, 1st Edition
edited by Donald L. Sparks , expected release date: 01 Oct 2015. Academic Press, 262 pages, ISBN 9780128033234. Price Print Book 117,30 €. Advances in Agronomy continues to be recognized as a leading reference and a first-rate source for the latest research in agronomy. Each volume contains an eclectic group of reviews by leading scientists throughout the world. As always, the subjects covered are rich and varied and exemplary of the abundant subject matter addressed by this long-running serial.
The Soils of Spain
edited by Gallardo, Juan F., Oktober 25, 2015. World Soils Book Series, Springer, ISBN 978-3-319-20540-3. Price Hardcover 99,99 €. This book provides the reader with a comprehensive overview of the soils of Spain gathered by a variety of Spanish experts in the field. It presents soils in this country as particularly conditioned by the naturally diverse and drastic distribution of the Spanish landscape, characterized by mountainous ranges in the North, and arid areas in the South and the East. The first chapter sets the agricultural scenario in Spain as influenced by the Arabic culture and American agricultural products; the second chapter provides a classification and distribution of Spanish soils; the third chapter approaches the topic of soils in the characteristically humid Northern Iberia area as prone to diversity and soil evolution; the fourth focuses on the soils of the South and East of Spain as affected by lack of rainfall and abundance in calcic soil horizons; the fifth chapter deals with Mediterranean soils, having as a particular characteristic the dominance of red colors; and the last chapter discusses the challenges and future issues of Spanish soils.
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