Update: 24.05.2018

Five tonnes of animal life can live in one hectare of soil.

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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 129 (March 2016)


Request for Contributions to the next IUSS Bulletin 128

The IUSS Secretariat (Email) kindly invites all IUSS members to submit their contributions for the next IUSS Bulletin 128 (to be published in June) at their earliest convenience, but no later than 15 May 2016. In particular, the Secretariat would welcome conference/meeting reports including IYS celebrations and first activities dedicated to the International Decade of Soils (2015-2024), answers to the “Five Questions to a Soil Scientist” (for ideas and the list of questions go to http://www.iuss.org/index.php?article_id=308), your three favourite soil science books (for inspiration go to http://www.iuss.org/index.php?article_id=433) and any other information you would like to share with the international soil science community. Please make sure to send high-resolution photos only.

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Call for nominations for IUSS Honorary Members

In the beginning of March all presidents of IUSS National Soil Science Societies were invited to put forward their country’s nominations for Honorary Members to the IUSS. In line with the IUSS Byelaws, nominations must be submitted to the IUSS Secretariat (Email) by 19 May 2016 at the very latest. According to the IUSS Statutes Honorary Members will be elected by the Council, and shall be living at the time of election. They must be scientists of great distinction in Soil Science and have made substantial contributions to ISSS/IUSS. The number of Honorary Members that can be elected every four years at the InterCongress meeting will be determined by the merit of the candidates but shall not exceed 15. The next InterCongress Meeting will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, November 20-25, 2016.

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IUSS Presidential elections 2016

The election of the next President of the IUSS is due this year. The appointment of the President represents a total of six years commitment to the Union by serving two years each as President-Elect (2017/18), President (2019/20) and Past-President (2021/22). The call for nominations was published in a separate Alert on 16 March 2016. Full documentation is available on the IUSS website.
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Call for Nominations: 2016 Young Micromorphology Publication Award (YMPA)

Commission 1.1: Soil Morphology and Micromorphology will award the Young Micromorphologist’s Publication Award every 2 years. The purpose of this award is to encourage and promote the use of soil micromorphology by young scientists. The Award will be given to one or more young scientist who has published research in the preceeding 4 years, that is an outstanding contribution to the principles, methodology, or application of micromorphology. The author must be less than 35 years old at the time of acceptance of the publication, and he/she must be the first author. The selection of the awardees will be the responsibility of the Kubiena Award Committee.
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New Margaret Oliver Prize for Early-career Pedometricians

The IUSS Pedometrics Commission has decided to create a new award to recognize early-career scientists in their field. The prize will be given at each biennial international meeting of the Pedometrics Commission; the first prize will be given in Wageningen (NL) in 2017.
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Newsletter 2 IUSS-working group on modelling of soil and landscape evolution

The second newsletter of the IUSS working group on modelling of soil and landscape evolution is available.
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Online consultation for developing the Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management

The online consultation on the Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management (VGSSM), which was also published in the Newsroom of the IUSS Website, has come to an end.

The quantity and especially the quality of the thoughtful comments received from more than 30 countries are fundamental and will now enable the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS), the main advisory body to the Global Soil Partnership, to prepare the first draft of the VGSSM (end of March 2016). This draft will then be submitted to an Open-Ended Working Group for its finalization and submission to the Fifth Global Soil Partnership Plenary Assembly (23-25th May 2016). If endorsed by the Plenary Assembly, the draft VGSSM will be submitted to the Committee on Agriculture (COAG) for its review, and if endorsed, to the FAO Council.
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Quantifying the erosion effect on current carbon budget

The idea of offsetting anthropogenic CO2 emissions by increasing global soil organic carbon (SOC), as proposed during COP21 in the ‘four per mil’ initiative, is notable. JRC scientists coupled soil erosion into a biogeochemistry model, running at 1 km2 resolution across the agricultural soils of the European Union (EU). Based on data-driven assumptions, the simulation took into account also soil deposition within grid cells and the potential C export to riverine systems, in a way to be conservative in a mass balance. In comparison with a baseline without erosion, we estimated a net C loss or gain of −2.28 and +0.79 Tg yr−1 of CO2eq, respectively, depending on the value for the short-term enhancement of soil C mineralization due to soil disruption and displacement/transport with erosion. Erosion fluxes were in the same order of current carbon gains from improved management. Even if erosion could potentially induce a sink for atmospheric CO2, strong agricultural policies are needed to prevent or reduce soil erosion.
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How does farming affect the organic carbon content of arable soils?

Agricultural land has great potential to store carbon. With the right choice of cultivation methods and cropping systems, it can be transformed from a source of greenhouse gases into a sink for carbon dioxide. In 2013, EviEM began to review how different farming methods affect the amounts of organic carbon in arable soils by a systematic-review approach. So far, the project has delivered three review protocols on the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Evidence and a systematic Web-Gis interactive map on metadata extracted from long-term experiment and study sites. The JRC soil team of the European Commission participates in this research.
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The Remediated sites and brownfields–Success stories in Europe

This document is the results of an initiative of the Eionet National Reference Centres for Soil, which established in 2015 an ad-hoc working group on contaminated sites and brownfields in Europe. The objective was to collect cases and successful stories of remediated sites and brownfields, harmonise and facilitate exchanges of information on contaminated soils and soil remediation between the Eionet contributing countries. It aims to contribute to a better understanding of the remediation of contaminated sites and brownfields rehabilitation which is essential for sustainable land use management and to share best practices and new techniques, meanwhile raising awareness of the enormous efforts needed to succeed. This document presents many examples in various contexts and different European countries.
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The first European earthworm map is drawn

Despite the abundance of earthworms in soils all around the world, there is a lack of information concerning the geographical distribution of many lumbricid species. Researchers from eight European countries have collected information on earthworm communities to map the biodiversity of these invertebrates and to put soil conservation on the political agenda.
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Urban soil emits a surprising amount of CO2

A new study published in the journal Environmental Pollution shows that urban soil can emit up to 72 percent as much CO2 as fossil fuels burned within a city and at a rate of up to twice that of rural soils. And this is important, the researchers note, because most climate action plans only account for anthropogenic sources of CO2 like cars and buildings, not the seemingly innocent biological sources like dirt.
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Healing the soil - Repurposing abandoned urban lots starts with soil test

Chicago’s history of industrialization and urbanization left its mark on the soil. Soil acts as a sponge, and can host contaminants for years. In Chicago, the waste from industrial manufacturing causes undesirable toxic organic chemicals, heavy metals, and other chemicals to linger in the soil. A non-profit youth development center hopes to repurpose the lots into useful spaces for the community. However, the poor quality soils in the lots create challenges.
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Microbial diversity drives multifunctionality in terrestrial ecosystems

Despite the importance of microbial communities for ecosystem services and human welfare, the relationship between microbial diversity and multiple ecosystem functions and services (that is, multifunctionality) at the global scale has yet to be evaluated. Here we use two independent, large-scale databases with contrasting geographic coverage (from 78 global drylands and from 179 locations across Scotland, respectively), and report that soil microbial diversity positively relates to multifunctionality in terrestrial ecosystems. The direct positive effects of microbial diversity were maintained even when accounting simultaneously for multiple multifunctionality drivers (climate, soil abiotic factors and spatial predictors). Our findings provide empirical evidence that any loss in microbial diversity will likely reduce multifunctionality, negatively impacting the provision of services such as climate regulation, soil fertility and food and fibre production by terrestrial ecosystems.
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Conferences, Meetings and Workshops

16th International Scientific Earth & Geoscience Conference SGEM 2016

Abstract deadline prolonged until 25 March 2016

Flamingo Grand Congress Center, Albena Resort, Bulgaria, June 28 – July 7, 2016. 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. Section 13 deals with Soil.
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Enzymes in the Environment: Activity, Ecology and Applications

Early registration deadline extended until April 29, 2016

Bangor, Wales, United Kingdom, July 24-28, 2016. Although enzymes are central to cellular functions, this conference focuses on the role of soil enzymes in biogeochemical and ecosystem processes, known as ecological or environmental enzymology. The four-day meeting will have the following symposia: Hot Spots – Hot Moments of Enzyme Activities in the Environment; Methods I: Beyond Genomics; Extracellular Enzyme Expression; Methods II: Roundtable Position Presentations: Omics and Functional Expression of Extracellular Enzymes; Extracellular Enzymes in Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecosystems under a Changing Climate; Aquatic Enzymology; Functional Diversity and Ecosensors; Bioinformatics: Bioprospecting Genetic Expression of Extracellular Enzymes; Industrial and Environmental Applications; Bioremediation Driven by Extracellular Enzymes.
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International Conference Contaminated Sites 2016

Bratislava, Slovak Republic, September 12-13, 2016.
Please, indicate your interest by on-line registration and by sending your lecture abstract before April 15, 2016.
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The European Mineral Fertilizer Summit 2016

London, UK, September 14-15, 2016. Succeeding in the Fertilizer Market: Key Projections in the EU. The two day event will provide an exclusive platform in collaboration with Fertilizers Europe for discussion between a variety of industry perspectives including manufacturers, suppliers, distribution/logistics, academia and regulators homing in on the latest opportunities arising from plant technology and best practices within operational production. The main aim is to identify potential solutions, future work programmes and productive partnerships that overcome the key regulatory challenges and facilitate minimizing risk within the supply chain promoting access to safe and more efficient food security.
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FACEing the future | food production and ecosystems

Giessen, Germany , September 26 – 29, 2016.
How will primary production react to increasing atmospheric CO2 and temperatures? Will yields and food quality change? What are the feedbacks between soil, plants and the atmosphere? Will ecosystem functioning change? And do experimentalists monitor what modellers need for their projections? This international conference will bring together leading scientists to discuss these issues and many more in a number of sessions. Please note that online registration is now available and submissions for oral presentations and posters are called for. For more detailed information and to submit an abstract please visit the conference webpage . Take advantage and register early to avoid the additional late registration charge and at the same time book your accommodation to secure the especially arranged conference rates and room availability. In case you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the Organizing Committee: Email
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International Soil Classification Congress in South Africa

Bloemfontein, South Africa, December 1-7, 2016. The congress proper will span three days, preceded by a four-day pre-congress field workshop. The field workshop starts the morning of 1 December in Pretoria and ends on 4 December in the evening in Bloemfontein. The field workshop will expose participants to the soils of Pretoria (manganiferous soils), Lichtenburg (aeolian, granitic and dolomitic agriculture soils), Potchefstroom (Technosols and aeolian agricultural soils), Sasolburg (high-activity clay agriculture soils), and the Vredefort meteor impact site. This congress is the official congress of IUSS Commission 1.4 (Soil Classification) and is supported by the Soil Science Society of South Africa and the University of the Free State.
Abstract submission & Registration opens on 1 May 2016; Deadline for abstract submission: 17 June 2016.
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New publications

Geopedology. An Integration of Geomorphology and Pedology for Soil and Landscape Studies

By Zinck, J.A., Metternicht, G., Bocco, G., Del Valle, H.F. (Eds.). 1st ed. 2016 by Springer, 556 pages, 161 illus., 82 illus. in color, ISBN 978-3-319-19159-1, price hardcover: 89,99 € | £66.99 | $119.00.
This book offers a proven approach for reliable mapping of soil-landscape relationships to derive information for policy, planning and management at scales ranging from local to regional. It presents the theoretical and conceptual framework of the geopedologic approach and a bulk of applied research showing its application and benefits for knowledge generation relevant to geohazard studies, land use conflict analysis, land use planning, land degradation assessment, and land suitability analysis.

Soil Health, Soil Biology, Soilborne Diseases and Sustainable Agriculture. A Guide.

By Graham Stirling, Helen Hayden, Tony Pattison and Marcelle Stirling. March 2016 by CSIRO Publishing, 280 pages, colour photographs, illustrations, 245 × 170 mm, ISBN: 9781486303045, price paperback AU $ 99.95.
Our capacity to maintain world food production depends heavily on the thin layer of soil covering the Earth’s surface. The health of this soil determines whether crops can grow successfully, whether a farm business is profitable and whether an enterprise is sustainable in the long term. Farmers are generally aware of the physical and chemical factors that limit the productivity of their soils but often do not recognise that soil microbes and the soil fauna play a major role in achieving healthy soils and healthy crops. This book provides readily understandable information about the bacteria, fungi, nematodes and other soil organisms that not only harm food crops but also help them take up water and nutrients and protect them from root diseases. Complete with illustrations and practical case studies, it provides growers and their consultants with holistic solutions for building an active and diverse soil biological community capable of improving soil structure, enhancing plant nutrient uptake and suppressing root pests and pathogens.

Soil Water Measurement: A Practical Handbook

By J. David Cooper, March 2016 by Wiley-Blackwell, 368 pages, ISBN: 978-1-4051-7676-7, price hardcover £125.00 or €168.80.
This book is written for all those involved in measurement of soil water phenomena, whether they be environmental scientists, field technicians, agronomists, meteorologists, hydrogeologists, foresters, physical geographers, civil or water engineers or students in these subjects. It contains a comprehensive description of all the major methods used for measurement of soil water content and potential, solute concentration, transport and balance of water and solutes, including recharge to groundwater aquifers. The emphasis is firmly on techniques which can be applied in the field or on samples obtained from the field. The theory and practice of the workings of the main instruments and methods available is described, along with practical tips on surmounting some of the main difficulties and explanations of many commonly encountered jargon words.

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