Update: 27.05.2018

A handful of soil can contain billions of soil microorganisms.

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The International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) is the global union of soil scientists. The objectives of the IUSS are to promote all branches of soil science, and to support all soil scientists across the world in the pursuit of their activities. This website provides information for IUSS members and those interested in soil science.

IUSS Alert 127 (January 2016)


Vienna Soil Declaration adopted by FAO and IAEA

The ‘Vienna Soil Declaration’ presented during the conference “Celebration of International Year of Soils 2015 – Achievements and Future Challenges” in Vienna on Dec. 7, 2015, has been recently adopted by FAO and IAEA. In this Declaration IUSS has identified the key roles played by soils in addressing the major environmental, health and social problems which humanity is currently facing. Given this situation, the IUSS believes that it is incumbent on us to not only maintain the level of activity generated in IYS 2015 but to increase the momentum and the extent of our contributions on these issues as we move towards the Centenary of the formation of IUSS in 2024.

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International Decade of Soils (2015-2024)

During the above mentioned event IUSS President Prof. Rainer Horn took the opportunity to announce the International Decade of Soils 2015 -2024, which was unilaterally declared by IUSS, to keep the momentum and further increase soil awareness. IUSS will seek the support of global organizations such as CGIAR, FAO, IAEA, UNEP and others for this initiative. We kindly ask you to actively support us through the channels at your disposal. We intend to provide a logo and other information/dissemination materials in the near future.
The United Nations’ decision to inaugurate 2015 as International Year of Soils was an important step in raising public awareness. But public concern alone is not sufficient to protect soils and ensure their sustainable use. Soil scientists in every country around the world need to take and to maintain action.
It is essential that all IUSS Divisions, Commissions, Working Groups, national and individual members accept the challenge to undertake activities to ensure that the significance of soils in maintaining healthy life and environment remain continually at the forefront of political and scientific planning and decision making.

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Publication of IUSS Bulletin 127

The latest IUSS Bulletin with detailed reports of IUSS Divisions, Commissions and Working Groups, an account of numerous activities undertaken during the International Year of Soils 2015 to raise awareness on soils and their importance for humankind, as well as other pieces of information from the world of soil science is available on the IUSS website.
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Commission 1.4 Website Now Available

Commission 1.4 Soil Classification Web Site has been moved.
The site is a source of information about upcoming meetings, the Guy Smith Award, the Universal Soil Classification and WRB Working Groups.
Contact for information is Chair John Galbraith: Email
To the new website

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Pedometron

The newsletter of Commission 1.5 of the IUSS, December 2015 issue is available at www.pedometrics.org.
It has exciting articles: Report on Pedometrics 2015, Margaret Oliver Award for Early-career Pedometricians, New science for an old art, The challenge of sampling remote tropical mountain areas, Turning a smartphone into a tricorder for soil monitoring, Is DSM trying to tell us something? On usability of soil maps, Pedometricians Favourite Equations, Digital Soil Mapping Training at The Dokuchaev Soil Science Institute, How Gerard Heuvelink got involved in pedometrics , Geoderma Special Issue on Advances in DSM, Uncertainty and Soil Carbon Validation.

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Thomson Reuters 2015 Highly Cited Researchers

The IUSS Secretariat congratulates Prof. Rattan Lal, IUSS President Elect, on his being named a Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher and included in the 2015 list of the Most Influential Scientific Minds.
See complete list 2015

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Udo Schwertmann (1927-2016)

The IUSS Secretariat was sad to learn that our distinguished colleague Udo Schwertmann died on January 20th, 2016 at the age of 88. His scientific achievements span a vast range. We certainly have to commemorate his work on the occurrence formation and identification of iron oxides in soils, but also his work in soil clay mineralogy, soil erosion, phosphorous in soil, cation adsorption, and soil acidity. He first described the structure, formation and properties of the mineral „Schwertmannite“, named after him by the International Mineralogical Association.
Udo Schwertmann published more than 200 research papers, numerous book chapters and several monographs.
He received numerous scientific awards, e.g. in 1995 he received an honorary doctorate from the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel in Germany and in 2005 he was awarded the Philippe-Duchaufour-medal of the European Geophysical Union „for outstanding research in the field of fundamental and applied soil science, with special emphasis on his contributions to soil mineralogy and genesis”.
Udo Schwertmann’s legacy is forever connected with our understanding of the formation and properties of iron oxides in soils.

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Wrapping up the International Year of Soils - FAO

The 6 key messages to take away from IYS2015
In 2015 we celebrated the “International Year of Soils” and with good reason.
Soil sustains all our agricultural and livestock food production, wood for fuel production, filters water so that we can drink it and fish can live in it.
We also use it for construction – therefore it sustains our homes and infrastructure.
The six essentials to take away

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How soils keep us healthy

Soils are one of the most complex and dynamic natural systems studied by scientists. Although usually out of sight, everything in our lives is underpinned by them — our roads, our homes, the food we eat, and the water we drink. It makes sense to reflect on their importance, particularly as 2015 was the International Year of Soil. However, not very many people are aware of the ways in which they keep us healthy.
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A Worm's Eye View of Climate Change

Any gardener and producer know that worms are good for the soil. Vermicompost is reckoned by serious growers to be the crème de la crème of organic compost. But for coffee farmers in Central America, worms are also an unlikely ally in the fight against climate change.
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Soils will lead the next green revolution – if we allow them

The “green revolution” led to an increase in crop yield at least three times greater than the previous century, and this increase was primarily a result of the introduction of fertilisers, pesticides, and new crop varieties. However, while most crop yields are no longer increasing, the world population is still growing. The FAO estimates the global population will reach almost 10 billion in 2050.
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FAO Infographics: Soil An essential ingredient to healthy food and nutrition

Our soils are by nature linked to the micronutrient content of our food production. The poster shows how to reverse the increasing trend of nutrient depleted soil by adopting sustainable soil management practices.
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Soils store and filter water - Improving food security and our resilience to floods and droughts

Functional soils play a key role in the supply of clean water and resilience to floods and droughts. Water infiltration through soil traps pollutants and prevents them from leaching into the groundwater. Moreover, the soil captures and stores water, making it available for absorption by crops, and thus minimizing surface evaporation and maximizing water use efficiency and productivity.
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Soil microbes added to seeds could boost crop production

Communities of soil-dwelling bacteria and fungi are crucial to plants. They help plants take up nutrients and minerals from the dirt and can even extend root systems, providing more access to food and water. They also help plants grow, cope with stress, bolster immune responses and ward off pests and diseases. Now scientists at agricultural companies are digging through the dirt, like prospectors panning for gold, to find the exact microbes that make specific crops grow better. Agribusiness firms Novozymes and Monsanto are leading the way by coating seeds with microbes, planting them on farms across the U.S. and harvesting the crops to see how they fared.
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Conferences, Meetings and Workshops

Tea Bag Index (TBI) Workshop

University of Reading, United Kingdom, February 26, 2016. The purpose of the workshop is to improve the understanding and application of the Tea Bag Index (TBI) in soil microbial studies and to build a TBI community for advanced data generation, method development and knowledge exchange.
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Contact person is Sarah Duddigan: Email

ESSC 2016 European Society for Soil Conservation International Conference “Soil – Our Common Future”

Cluj-Napoca, Romania, June 15-18, 2016. Deadline for abstract submission is 31 January 2016.
Please note that ESSC provides 2 grants of 500.00 Euro each to 2 young researchers (less than 35 years old) members of the ESSC, to support their participation to the 2016 ESSC International Conference on “Soil – Our Common Future”.
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Application form

19th Nitrogen Workshop – deadline for abstract submission extended

Skara, Sweden, June 27-29, 2016. Due to several requests from authors, the time for submission of abstracts for oral and poster presentation has been extended. The deadline is postponed to 3 February 2016.
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16th International Scientific GeoConference SGEM – online registration and call for papers

June 28 – July 7, 2016. Conference venue: Flamingo Grand Congress Center, Albena Resort, Bulgaria. The prestigious SGEM International Scientific GeoConferences focus on the latest researches and technologies in the fields of Geo and Earth Sciences, covering 27 scientific topics from fundamental and applied sciences. The topic soil is covered under Water Resources, Forest, Marine and Ocean Ecosystems. Abstract submission deadline: 10 March 2016.
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35th International Geological Congress

The International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) and the International Geological Congress (IGC) will celebrate the 35th International Geological Congress in Cape Town, South Africa, 27 August – 4 September 2016. This is the main scientific event organized by IUGSIGC every four years. Three core topics have been identified: Geoscience for Society, Fundamental Geoscience and Geoscience in the Economy.
Four sessions are open for abstract submissions until January 31st
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There will also be a section on Soil sciences.
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New publications

The Australian Soil Classification, Second Edition

By R Isbell, National Committee on Soil and Terrain, January 2016 by CSIRO Publishing, Australian Soil and Land Survey Handbooks Series, 152 pages, illustrations, 245 × 170 mm, ISBN: 9781486304639, Price Paperback AU $ 59.95.
The Australian Soil Classification provides a framework for organising knowledge about Australian soils by allocating soils to classes via a key. Since its publication in 1996, this book has been widely adopted and formally endorsed as the official national system. It has provided a means of communication among scientists and land managers and has proven to be of particular value in land resource survey and research programs, environmental studies and education.
Classification is a basic requirement of all science and needs to be periodically revised as knowledge increases. This Second Edition of The Australian Soil Classification includes updates from a working group of the National Committee on Soil and Terrain (NCST), especially in regards to new knowledge about acid sulfate soils (sulfidic materials). Modifications include expanding the classification to incorporate different kinds of sulfidic materials, the introduction of subaqueous soils as well as new Vertosol subgroups, new Hydrosol family criteria and the consistent use of the term reticulate. All soil orders except for Ferrosols and Sodosols are affected by the changes.

Soil Remediation: Applications and New Technologies

By Jose T. V. S. de Albergaria, Hendrikus P. A. Nouws, January 15, 2016 by CRC Press, 174 Pages, 19 Color & 30 B/W Illustrations, ISBN 9781498743617. Price hardback £65.44.
Soil contamination represents a serious environmental problem and requires an immediate action plan to be prepared for typical and emergent contaminants. This book provides an overview of some remediation technologies, both traditional and emergent, as well as case studies based on the contribution from academia and service providers. Several soil and groundwater remediation technologies such as electrokinetic remediation, biological treatments (including phytoremediation), and chemical remediation are presented. Innovative technologies such as nanoremediation and the application of life cycle assessment as a decision tool for soil remediation technologies are also considered in this book. This book serves as a reference source for soil remediation as it includes applications, technologies, and valuable tools that can help in decision making during remediation actions. It can be used by students, researchers, service providers, and industry practitioners.

Advances in Agronomy, 1st Edition

By D Sparks (Editor), January 26, 2016 by Academic Press, ISBN : 9780128046937, 244 pages. Price hardcover € 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.

Earth Matters: How soil underlies civilisation

By Richard D Bardgett, January 28th 2016 by Oxford University Press, 224 pages, ISBN: 9780199668564, Price Hardback £18.99.
For much of history, soil has played a major, and often central, role in the lives of humans. Entire societies have risen, and collapsed, through the management or mismanagement of soil; farmers and gardeners worldwide nurture their soil to provide their plants with water, nutrients, and protection from pests and diseases; major battles have been aborted or stalled by the condition of soil; murder trials have been solved with evidence from the soil; and, for most of us, our ultimate fate is the soil. In this book Richard Bardgett discusses soil and the many, and sometimes surprising, ways that humanity has depended on it throughout history, and still does today. Analysing the role soil plays in our own lives, despite increasing urbanisation, and in the biogeochemical cycles that allow the planet to function effectively, Bardgett considers how superior soil management could combat global issues such as climate change, food shortages, and the extinction of species. Looking to the future, Bardgett argues that it is vital for the future of humanity for governments worldwide to halt soil degradation, and to put in place policies for the future sustainable management of soils.

Scheffer/Schachtschabel Soil Science

Authors: Blume, H.-P., Brümmer, G.W., Fleige, H., Horn, R., Kandeler, E., Kögel-Knabner, I., Kretzschmar, R., Stahr, K., Wilke, B.-M. ; Published by Springer, 1st edition 2016, XVIII, 618 p., 255 illustrations, 218 illustrations in colour. ISBN 978-3-642-30942-7, Price hardcover € 98.99, £81.00, $119.00.
Based on the standard textbook on Soil Science for over 30 years in Europe – now available in English and improved and adjusted for the North American and International Market. Soils are fundamental to our existence, delivering water and nutrients to plants that feed us. But they are in many ways in danger and their conservation is therefore a most important focus for science, governments and society as a whole. A team of world recognised researchers have prepared this first English edition based on the 16th European edition.

The Soils of Spain

By Gallardo, Juan F. (Ed.), 2016, World Soils Book Series, Springer Verlag. ISBN 978-3-319-20541-0, Price hardcover € 109.99.
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.

Special Issue: International Soil and Water Conservation Research: Global Pioneers in Soil Conservation: Common Elements and Lessons Learned

ISWCR, 2 (1). 2014. Pioneers in soil conservation and conservation agriculture. Edited by J. Dumanski, D.C. Reicosky, R.A. Peiretti. International Soil and Water Conservation Research, Volume 2, Issue 1, March 2014, pp107.ISSN 2095-6339
This Special Issue of International Soil and Water Conservation Research was compiled to honor the pioneers, farmers, researchers, and extentionists, whose work, dedication, and innovation laid the foundation for Conservation Agriculture. Efforts to control land degradation and soil erosion can be traced over millennia, but generally results have not been great. However, certain farmers, called the “pioneers”, questioned tradition and implemented new theories and new technologies in soil conservation. They were supported by researchers and extentionists. Their successes are significant, because through these approaches the pioneers laid the ecological foundation on which a more sustainable agriculture could be developed. Their stories must be preserved before it is too late; we have much to learn from these forward thinking people. The papers include success stories from various regions including North and South America, Australia, Europe, and China. The papers are put in context with an international overview paper on global soil conservation.
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90 years IUSS and global soil science

By Alfred E. Hartemink (2015), in: Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, 61:4, p 579-586.
In this article the author describes the history and activities of the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) and its predecessor the International Society of Soil Science (ISSS) in relation to some global soil science developments. The IUSS was founded in 1924 by soil scientists interested in establishing standardized methods of soil analysis and soil classification. In the past 90 years, 20 World Congresses of Soil Science were held, and thousands of smaller conferences, meetings and workshops. The IUSS is a global soil science organization and has 60,000 members who are organized into Divisions, Commissions and Working Groups that deal with all aspects of soil research.
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Job offers

Professor in the field of soil resources

The Department of Environmental Systems Science of ETH Zurich in-vites applications for a professorial faculty position focusing on (1) the role of soil as a key natural resource, supporting a wide range of forest and other terrestrial ecosystem functions and services and (2) quantifying the effects of changes of land use and climate on various soil functions at local to global scales. The appointment will be at full professor level. Candi¬dates should be interested in system-oriented multidisciplinary research and are expected to develop an innovative and internationally recognized research program, making an important contribution to linking the assessment and modelling of soil function to land-use and climate change.
The successful candidate will have a strong background in soil sciences as well as an inter¬national track record in research and will be a motivated and capable university teacher. Ad¬ditionally, skills in mathematical modelling and/or spatial information systems are a great plus. Teaching duties will include introductory and advanced-level courses on the asses¬sment, modelling and management of soil resources as part of the environment. The new professor will be expected to teach undergraduate level courses (German or English) and graduate level courses (English).
Applications should include a curriculum vitae, a list of publications, and a statement of future research and teaching interests. The letter of application should be addressed to the President of ETH Zurich, Prof. Dr. Lino Guzzella. The closing date for applications is 15 March 2016. ETH Zurich is an equal opportunity and family friendly employer and is further responsive to the needs of dual career couples. We specifically encourage women to apply.
Department of Environmental Systems Science ETH Z
Please apply online
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