IUSS Alert 69 (January 2011)

Information for and from the global soil science community

Intergovernmental Platform

on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

A new international body aimed at catalyzing a global response to the loss of biodiversity and world's economically-important forests, coral reefs and other ecosystems was born by governments at the United Nations 65th General Assembly (UNGA). It underlines the success of the UN's International Year of Biodiversity and should provide a boost to the International Year of Forests which began in January 2011, and the international decade of biodiversity. The adoption, by the UNGA plenary, was the last approval needed for setting up an Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The independent platform will in many ways mirror the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which has assisted in catalyzing worldwide understanding and governmental action on global warming. The new body will bridge the gulf between the wealth of scientific knowledge on the accelerating declines and degradation of the natural world, with knowledge on effective solutions and decisive government action required to reverse these damaging trends. Its various roles will include carrying out high-quality peer reviews of the wealth of science on biodiversity and ecosystem services emerging from research institutes across the globe in order to provide gold standard reports to governments. These reports will not only cover the state, status and trends of biodiversity and ecosystems, but will also outline transformational policy options and responses to bring about real change in their fortunes. The IPBES will achieve this in part by prioritizing, making sense of and bringing consistency to the great variety of reports and assessments conducted by United Nations bodies, research centres, universities and others as they relate to biodiversity and ecosystem services.  Time for an IP Soil or IP Land?

Working Group on Soil Monitoring

Last year the IUSS accepted a proposal for a Working Group (WG) on Soil Monitoring. Ben Marchant from Rothamsted has been appointed the secretary of this working group and Dominique Arrouays from INRA, Orleans, France is the chair. The WG is now starting to plan a program of events. The first will be a Special Session at the Pedometrics 2011 conference at Trest Castle in the Czech Republic (Aug 30 - Sept 3). Further details of this conference can be found at: http://sites.google.com/site/pedometrics2011/ There is still time to submit abstracts to this website before the Feb 1st deadline. If you do intend your talk to be part of the special session could you please email a copy of the abstract to   in addition to the normal submission process. The WG is also proposing a workshop on statistical aspects of soil monitoring at the EuroSoils meeting in Bari, Italy next year. If anybody has any other ideas for Working Group events, they would be greatly appreciated. Could you please contact

Newsletter History, Philosophy, and Sociology of Soil Science

The 2011 History, Philosophy, and Sociology of Soil Science newsletter has been published. This latest edition of the newsletter includes information on the history, philosophy, and sociology sessions at the 2010 WCSS and SSSA meetings, news items, articles, book reviews, and information on new history, philosophy, and sociology publications. The newsletter can be viewed by going to www.iuss.org, clicking on 'IUSS Newsletters', and then scrolling down to 'Commission for History, Philosophy, and Sociology of Soil Science.'

Review of Chinese soil science

ZHAO Qi-Guo, HE Ji-Zheng, YAN Xiao-Yuan, ZHANG Bin, ZHANG Gan-Lin and CAI Zu-Cong. 2011. Progress in Significant Soil Science Fields of China over the Last Three Decades: A Review. Pedosphere 21, 1-10. Due to continuous decreases in arable land area and continuous population increases, Chinese soil scientists face great challenges in meeting food demands, mitigating adverse environmental impacts, and sustaining or enhancing soil productivity under intensive agriculture. With the aim of promoting the application of soil science knowledge, the paper reviews the achievements of Chinese scientists in soil resource use and management, soil fertility, global change mitigation and soil biology over the last 30 years. During this period, soil resource science has provided essential support for the use and exploitation of Chinese soil resources, and has itself developed through the introduction of new theories such as Soil Taxonomy and new technologies such as remote sensing. Soil fertility science has contributed to the alleviation and elimination of impeding physical and chemical factors that constrain availability of essential nutrients and water in soils, the understanding of nutrient cycling in agroecosystems, and the increase in nutrient-use efficiency for sustainable crop production. Chinese soil scientists have contributed to the understanding of the cropland's role in global change, particularly to the understanding of methane and nitrous oxide emission from rice fields and the effect of elevated carbon dioxide and ozone on the rice-wheat system. Soil biology research has progressed in biological N fixation, distribution of fauna in Chinese soils, and bioremediation of polluted soils. A new generation of soil scientists has arisen in the last three decades. The gaps between research and application in these soil science fields are also discussed.

Meetings and Conferences

Applications of Visual Soil Evaluation is a Knowledge Transfer Day for advisors, farmers and policy-makers on 18th May 2011, Denmark. This meeting will focus on hands-on demonstrations of one or two methods of evaluation of soil structural quality to allow people without much experience in soil science to identify conditions where loosening or other soil improvement are required. Guidance will be given on how to choose relevant sampling locations. Combining soil quality assessments with vegetation and crop conditions to estimate crop performance and environmental conditions such as potential greenhouse gas emissions and potential carbon sequestration will also feature. This KT meeting follows on from a workshop of visual structure practitioners on 16 and 17 May 2011. Both meetings are organized from the ISTRO Working Group F and will be held at Research Centre, Flakkebjerg, Denmark. Some places may also be available for the main workshop. For further details please see the homepage for the seminar with information on the meetings and, possibility at a later date, for online registration and payment (both for the workshop and the KT day) at www.agrsci.au.dk/VSEE

12th ISSPA that will be held on June 5-10, 2011 in Crete, Greece. The Soil and Plant Analysis Council (SPAC) organizes an International Symposium of Soil and Plant Analysis (ISSPA) every two years.  ISSPA bring together agricultural and natural resource scientists from around the world to disseminate information on methodology, interpretation and application of soil, plant and water analyses for the purpose of efficient resource management, sustainable production and the environment.  The 12th ISSPA is being held on June 5-10, 2011 at the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania, Crete, Greece.  For more information on abstract submission, registration and much more, please, see http://www.isspaonline.org/

Soil Interfaces in a Changing World. International Symposium on Interactions of Soil Minerals with Organic Components and Microorganisms. 6th ISMOM, 3rd InterCongress symposium of IUSS Commission 2.5. Montpellier, France 26th June - 1st July 2011. This symposium attracts about 200 participants every 4 years, and is always a lively, stimulating friendly meeting. More information on the conference, the keynote speakers, the venue and important dates are found on the Web site. The web site is now open for pre-inscription, and abstract submission will be possible later this month. Travel bursaries will be available and information on application will soon be posted on the Web site. The second circular can be downloaded from the Web site. Special issues of European Journal of Soil Science and Soil Biology & Biochemistry will be published based on oral and poster communications made at the conference. The call for papers for both special issues is already open. In 2011 emphasis will be given to: changing climate and the effects on biogeochemical cycles and microbial activity in soils; changing demands on soil and the environment in terms of agricultural production and pollution standards; emerging pollutants, including nanoparticles, pathogens, new pesticides and pharmaceutical products and genetically modified plants; new developments in advanced analytical and research tools. Registration fees are low for early birds and students and inclusive of lunches and social events, with low price accommodation available and some bursaries for students and scientists from underfunded countries. For more information and to download the Second Circular, please go to the Web site. http://www1.montpellier.inra.fr/ISMOM2011/

Skeptical soil scientists

Skepticism about human-induced global warming is not fashionable, even dangerous, for scientists these days. It used to be that skepticism was the engine of scientific discovery, creativity and change. Two of our most experienced and distinguished soil scientists. Miroslav Kutilek and Don Nielsen, have produced an impelling long essay on the global warming issue.  It's a bit of a page turner. It seems important and well worth reading. Mioslav Kutilek and Donald R. Nielsen 2009  Facts About Global Warming. 227 pp. Catena Verlag, Reiskirchen. http://www.catena-verlag.de/ege586.htm

New Publications

Actualizacion en metodos y tecnicas para el estudio de los suelos afectados por incendios forestales. Title in English: Review of methods and techniques for the study of soils affected by forest fires. Edited by Artemi Cerda (University of Valencia) and Antonio Jordan (University of Seville). Published by FUEGORED and C?tedra de Divulgaci? de la Ci?ncia (University of Valencia) ISBN: 978-84-370-7887-8. More than 50 authors have worked in this book, edited by A. Cerda and A. Jordan. This publication reviews methods and techniques for the study of soils affected by forest fires, including studies in the long, medium and short term. New approaches are included and some classical methods are updated. Each chapter provides laboratory and field, as well as examples of their application and interpretation of results. The book is divided into four sections, besides introduction and conclusions. These sections are dedicated to: i) the hydrological and erosive processes in areas affected by forest fires, paying attention to aggregate stability, soil water repellency and soil erosion studies at different scales; ii) the impact in chemical and physical properties of soils, including new approaches as NIR methodologies applied to the study of burning temperatures, the study of impacts in organic substances, acidity and other chemical properties, as well as the assessment of ashes; iii) methods and techniques for studying the impact of forest fires in ecosystems, post-fire hydrogeomorphological monitoring, image analysis, the assessment of changes in plant communities and the use of spectroradiometry as a tool for the study of fire severity; and iv) methods of studying the effects of wildfires in biochemical and microbiological properties. The text is aimed at Spanish language speaker students and researchers in the area of fire-affected soils, soil science, ecology and environmental sciences, as well as national and international policy makers and a number of organizations dealing with environmental protection and management of natural resources.

Food Security and Soil Quality. Edited by:  Rattan Lal, The Ohio State University, Columbus, USA ;  B.A. Stewart, West Texas A&M University, Canyon, USA. Series: Advances in Soil Science. CRC Press. ISBN:  9781439800577. Just five years ago, it was generally believed that the number of food insecure people in the world was on continuous decline. Unfortunately, widespread soil degradation along with resistance to recommended agronomic practices, and little attempt to restore degraded soils have conspired with significant droughts (in regions that could least tolerate them) to swell the ranks of the food insecure to over a billion people. The U.N. Millennium Development Goals intent to halve hunger by 2015 will not be realized. Food Security and Soil Quality brings together leading experts from across the world to provide a concise and factually supported exploration of the problem at hand and the critical steps needed to reverse it. This book does provide policymakers and others with an understanding of the depth, complexity, and immediacy of this crisis, but more than a call to action, it also offers soil scientists working in this area with an understanding of what is being done and what needs to be done. Most importantly, this book helps us understand that the situation is not beyond remediation were we to act with great resolve and a sense of urgency.

Soil Quality and Biofuel Production. Edited by:  Rattan Lal, The Ohio State University, Columbus, USA ;  B.A. Stewart, West Texas A&M University, Canyon, USA. Series: Advances in Soil Science. CRC Press.  ISBN:  9781439800737. In eight concise chapters, Soil Quality and Biofuel Production presents a state-of-the-knowledge review of soil properties and processes negatively impacted by crop residue removal. It outlines the ecological consequences of biofuels and evaluates land use in the production of raw material for biofuel. The book then spotlights pressing issues related to corn and cellulosic ethanol and also soil erosion. It offers advice for achieving economic balance in the competition for arable land between food and biofuel along with residue harvest management techniques. A thought-provoking discussion of the opportunities and challenges that biofuel presents rounds out the book's coverage. The logistics of producing biomass in a sustainable manner remain a major challenge and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. Serious questions linger concerning viable sources of biofuel feedstock, competition for resources needed to produce biomass, and energy output/input ratios. Soil Quality and Biofuel Production provides environmental scientists and agricultural engineers with the knowledge they need to address them.

Pictorial Atlas of Soil and Seed Fungi: Morphologies of Cultured Fungi and Key to Species,Third Edition. Tsuneo Watanabe, Institute for Biological Resources and Functions, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan. CRC Press. ISBN:  9781439804193. Dr. Watanabe describes all fungi alphabetically under the orders of Oomycota, Zygomycota, Ascomycota, Basidiomycota, and Anamorphic (Deuteromycetous) fungi. For each genus, he includes type species, references, morphology, and materials. Morphologies of cultured fungi are briefly described and illustrated together with the description of the isolation sources and methods. The book illustrates all fungi alongside morphologies and colonies of their fresh agar cultures or dried specimens, providing ready access to morphologically similar fungi for quick comparison. Most of the fungi are isolated from soil, plant roots, and seeds, and the rest are from wood-inhabiting fruiting bodies, their spores, or the spore-like structures associated with them. They are mostly collected in Japan, but some are from the Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Switzerland, and Taiwan, R.O.C.


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