Taking care of soils since 1924

General information

The International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) was founded as the International Society of Soil Science (ISSS) on 19th May 1924. The IUSS has been a scientific union member of ICSU (International Council for Science) since 1993. Since the merger of ICSU with the International Social Science Council to form the International Science Council (ISC) in 2018 the IUSS is a member of ISC.

The scientific activities of IUSS are undertaken through 4 Divisions and each Division has 4 to 6 Commissions.
The Divisions and Commissions are headed by a chairperson and two vice chairs.

Below you can find an overview of the IUSS’ divisions, commissions and working groups.

Detailed information on the tasks of each division, commission or working group as well as contact details of the experts is available: >> Organisation

Overview IUSS divisions & commissions

Division 1 – Soils in Space and Time

  • COMMISSION 1.1 – Soil morphology and micromorphology
  • COMMISSION 1.2 – Soil geography
  • COMMISSION 1.3 – Soil genesis
  • COMMISSION 1.4 – Soil classification
  • COMMISSION 1.5 – Pedometrics
  • COMMISSION 1.6 – Paleopedology
Go to Division 1

Division 2 – Soil properties and processes

  • COMMISSION 2.1 – Soil physics
  • COMMISSION 2.2 – Soil chemistry
  • COMMISSION 2.3 – Soil biology
  • COMMISSION 2.4 – Soil mineralogy
  • COMMISSION 2.5 – Soil chemical, physical and biological interfacial reactions
Go to Division 2

Division 3 – Soil Use and Management

  • COMMISSION 3.1 – Soil evaluation and land use planning
  • COMMISSION 3.2 – Soil and water conservation
  • COMMISSION 3.3 – Soil fertility and plant nutrition
  • COMMISSION 3.4 – Soil engineering and technology
  • COMMISSION 3.5 – Soil degradation control, remediation and reclamation
  • COMMISSION 3.6 – Salt-affected Soils
Go to division 3

Division 4 – The Role of Soils in Sustaining Society and the Environment

COMMISSION 4.1 – Soils and the environment
COMMISSION 4.2 – Soils, food security, and human health
COMMISSION 4.3 – Soils and land use change
COMMISSION 4.4 – Soil education and public awareness
COMMISSION 4.5 – History, philosophy, and sociology of soil science

Go to division 4

Overview Working Groups

  • Acid Sulfate Soils
  • Critical Zone System
  • Cryosols
  • Cultural Patterns of Soil Understanding
  • Digital Soil Mapping
  • Digital Soil Morphometrics
  • Forest Soils
  • Global Soil Map
  • Heritage Soils
  • Land Degradation
  • Modelling of Soil and Landscape Evolution
  • Paddy Soils
  • Proximal Soil Sensing
  • Soil Information Standards
  • Soil Modeling Consortium
  • Soil Monitoring
  • Soils of Urban, Industrial, Traffic, Mining and Military Areas (SUITMA)
  • Universal Soil Classification
  • World Reference Base

How IUSS works

The IUSS is based on two pillars:

  1. it is a union of national societies or academies (the Full members),
  2. it is an organization of soil scientists (individual members).

The main contribution of Full Members to the society’s activities is through the Council, while the individual members participate in the events and activities organized by the IUSS and through the activities of the IUSS Divisions, Commissions and Working groups that they join, and the organizational bodies where they serve.

The administrative hierarchy of the IUSS is broadly as follows

  1. An individual soil scientist is a member of Full Member (normally a National Soil Science Society, but in some cases the Full Member is a National Academy). Where individuals are members of more than one National Society they must indicate the Full Member within which they wish to vote on matters relating to IUSS.
  2. Full Members are the National Soil Science Societies (or equivalent) or National Academy Members. It is the responsibility of Full Members to undertake elections amongst their membership for the positions of President Elect and Division and Commission Chairs and the nomination of potential candidates to be President Elect and Honorary Members of IUSS.
  3. The Council is the supreme body of the IUSS, and carries general responsibility for the efficient functioning and the success of the IUSS. The Council consists of the Executive Committee, one accredited representative from each Full Member, and three elected representatives of the Honorary Members.
  4. Full Members are the national representatives on the Council of IUSS and must nominate an individual to be their representative on Council and notify the Secretariat of their name. Council meets at the World Congress of Soil Science and at the Inter-Congress Meeting and electronically in intervening years. Council Members will vote on changes to Statues and Bye-Laws and for the selection of Honorary Members consider actions by the Executive Committee and where appropriate approve those actions and suggest candidates for the membership of Standing Committees.
  5. In addition to the representatives of Full Members, Council Membership consists of three Honorary Members (elected by the Honorary Members) and the members of the Executive Committee.
  6. Votes of Council are (from 2022) undertaken electronically via a secure system.
  7. The Executive Committee membership is: The President, The President-Elect, the Past President, Vice-President (Congress), the Four Divisional Chairs, Standing Committee Chairs (Budget and Finance, Structure and Statutes; Prizes and Awards; Presidential Elections), the Treasurer and Secretary (non-voting).
  8. The Executive Committee operates in a manner similar to the Board of Directors of a Public Company dealing with day-to-day decisions. Major decisions (e.g. changes to Statutes and Bye-Laws) are passed to Council for voting, either at the Congress or Inter-Congress meetings or by electronic voting in intervening periods.
  9. The legal representative of the IUSS is Brian L. Anderson and the registered office is deWitt LLP in Madison, Wisconsin (USA). The legal representative is mainly responsible for tax issues of the IUSS in the USA. The responsibility for the accounts of the society and the provision of the annual audit lies with the board of finances and the treasurer.
  10. The operational headquarter of the IUSS is placed by the professional address of the Secretariat.

Awards and prizes

The IUSS confers several awards and prizes. Many of them are offered by Divisions, Commissions and Working Groups, whilst four are given by the Prizes and Awards Committee or the President’s Committee: the Dokuchaev and Von Liebig Award, for basic and applied research, as well as the Jeju Award for young and mid-career soil scientist and the IUSS Distinguished Service Medal, for outstanding world soil leaders who have translated soil science into action.