Update: 27.05.2018

There are over 100,000 different types of soil in the world.

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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 132 (June 2016)


IUSS Notice of Non-discrimination

Based on the ICSU (International Council for Science) Statement on Freedom in the Conduct of Science, the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) supports the Principle of Universality (freedom and responsibility) of Science: the free and responsible practice of science is fundamental to scientific advancement and human and environmental well-being. Such practice, in all its aspects, requires freedom of movement, association, expression and communication for scientists, as well as equitable access to data, information, and other resources for research. It requires responsibility at all levels to carry out and communicate scientific work with integrity, respect, fairness, trustworthiness, and transparency, recognising its benefits and possible harms.
In advocating the free and responsible practice of science, IUSS promotes equitable opportunities for access to science and its benefits, and opposes discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, national origin, sex (including sexual harassment and sexual violence), sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age, ancestry, disability, genetic information, military status, or veteran status, in its programs and activities as required by applicable laws and regulations.
Should any acts of discrimination come to your attention, do not hesitate to contact the IUSS Secretariat at iuss@umweltbundesamt.at.
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IUSS Stimulus Fund, Revised June 2016

IUSS has established an annual Stimulus Fund to support suitable activities within the Commissions and Working Groups. Where appropriate, the Fund will also support other activities to assist the development of Soil Science generally but particularly in regions of the world where lack of resources limit opportunities.
IUSS has set aside a sum of $12,500 annually to help fund these activities, but this funding may be increased if the quality of applications is particularly high. The normal maximum award will be $2,500, but larger awards may be considered.
The initial application process requires a short written proposal of no more than 500 words plus a budget indicating how the funds awarded are to be spent. There are two submission dates for applications each year: 15 March and 15 September. On rare occasions, urgent applications may be considered outside these times with the approval of the President. Applications should be sent to: iuss@umweltbundesamt.at
The funds can be used for a wide range of activities; the principal aims are the promotion and development of Soil Science. Activities might include the support of meetings, assistance with travel, website development, travel matching funds and any other soil science-related undertaking that stimulates work of a Commission or Working Group. Where funds for meetings or travel are requested, monies from the IUSS Stimulus Fund will normally be used to match funds raised locally. The relation between IUSS money and local funds will depend on the local economic circumstances.
In addition to the activities outlined above, some funds will be allocated to undertake specific projects identified by the Executive Committee, particularly projects which contribute to fulfilling the objectives of the International Decade of Soils. In these instances a project description will be provided and interested parties will be required to submit a proposal to carry out the project. The financial arrangements for these projects will be negotiated as part of the selection process.
The IUSS Executive Committee shall evaluate all proposals and make recommendations to the President. Final approval will be given by the IUSS President or delegate within one month after the submission dates given above. Because of the strict auditing regime that IUSS operates under, full accounting of all expenditure must be provided to the Treasurer. All expenditure must be accompanied by appropriate receipts. Under normal circumstances approximately 50 % of the allocated funds will be paid in advance, with the balance paid on receipt of a summary of expenditure with accompanying receipts. These conditions may be varied at the discretion of the President.
On completion of the activity a full financial statement with invoices/receipts for all expenses must be submitted to the Executive Committee within 2 months of the completion of the project. Simultaneously, a short (minimum 500 words) report of the activity must be presented for inclusion in the IUSS Bulletin.
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Call for nominations - Best Paper in Pedometrics 2015

Following the successful process for Best Paper in Pedometrics 2014, won by Nathan Odgers and colleagues, it is now the time to repeat the process for papers published in 2015. Nominations are open for the “Best Paper in Pedometrics 2015” award, to be presented at Pedometrics 2017 “Celebrating 25 years: 26th June – 2nd July 2017” (Wageningen NL). Early next year (2017) the exercise will be repeated for the best paper of 2016, but it is intended to spread the work out and also have papers nominated while they are still fresh in your minds. This is a prestigious award, which recognizes work that is judged to be of importance and of excellent quality by your peers. It stimulates us all to do top-quality, influential and innovative work. Deadline for nominations is 1 August 2016; selection by the committee by 1 September, voting will be from September to mid-October. For more information, please contact D G Rossiter, Chairman Pedometrics Awards Committee.
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Contact: dgr2@cornell.edu

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Sustainable Soil Management: Soil for life

A brand new MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on sustainable soil management has just been launched at Wageningen University, the Netherlands.
Soil is the earth’s fragile skin that anchors all life. We depend on soil to build our homes and cities, to grow crops for food and raise livestock, to support transportation and enable recreation. Yet we disregard this crucial and precious resource that lies right under our feet. This introductory environmental studies course will explore the importance of soil to life on earth, the issues, processes and societal challenges underlying soil degradation – and what can be done to ensure sustainable soil management for the future. The threats to our soil span deforestation, erosion, overgrazing, use of agrochemicals, pollution and climate change. Learn what you can do to make a difference in protecting this vital natural resource.
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Global Soil Partnership endorses guidelines on sustainable soil management

The Global Soil Partnership (GSP) endorsed a set of voluntary guidelines for sustainable soil management at its plenary conference at FAO this week, marking a step towards coordinated action to assure that the earth under our feet – a keystone of global food security – remains fertile. The GSP has been set up as a coalition tasked with promoting efforts to improve the parlous state of the world’s soils, a third of which are defined as degraded. For prescriptions for improving soil health to succeed, much diagnostic work must be done, according to the GSP.
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Global Rainfall Erosivity

In the context of developing the Rainfall Erosivity dataset at Global scale (REDaG), the Joint Research Centre in collaboration with scientists and institutions all over the World collects high temporal resolution (5-min, 10-min, 15-min, 30-min, 60-min) rainfall data. The same participatory approach as in Rainfall Erosivity at European Scale (REDES) is also applied for the development of the Global Erosivity Dataset. We invite scientists (or institutes) outside the European Union to contribute to this data collection. In case you have high temporal resolution rainfall data for long-time periods, you can be part of this project and co-author of sub-sequent publications. Please contact Panos Panagos for more information.
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Contact: panos.panagos@jrc.ec.europa.eu

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Effective sampling for digital soil mapping

Field soil samples are key inputs to digital soil mapping for provision of soil spatial information. Collecting field soil samples is not only labor intensive, but also costly. It is important to incorporate the vast amount of geospatial data currently available to increase the efficiency of soil sampling, but existing sampling methods can hardly achieve that. In a recent article in the Soil Science Society of America Journal, researchers developed a new sampling method that integrates the geospatial data derived from GIS and remote-sensing techniques to improve the efficiency of field sampling.
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Field to Market releases report on opportunities to advance soil health

Over the past decade, Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture has developed a set of sustainability metrics that focus on environmental outcomes of agricultural management practices, specific to commodity crop production systems in the United States. Responding to a charge from membership to conduct an assessment on how the Alliance can work to further overall maintenance of and improvement to soil health, we have prepared a new report as a resource for Field to Market members. Exploring Opportunities to Advance Soil Health assesses the current situation of the science of soil health, efforts of the conservation community, related research and the relationship to Field to Market’s ongoing efforts.
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How to Eat Your Lawn: Transform Your Wasteful Grassy Space into a Food Forest Garden

There are several organizations now that help people transform their lawns into edible food forests, and one of those is Edible Estates. This company is the brainchild of Fritz Haeg, who has made it his mission to replace the water-guzzling, pesticide-drenched grasslands of American front yards with functional, fruitful plots filled with all things edible.
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The disappearing West

Every two and a half minutes, a football field’s worth of open, natural area in the western United States disappears to human development. An interactive map helps to explore how and why open lands in the West are disappearing so quickly and to estimate the amount of natural land loss across the 11 western United States, to map the degree of human modification at a high spatial resolution (30 m) and to estimate the amount of natural land loss between two time periods: 2001-06 and 2006-11.
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The case of urban sprawl in Spain as an active and irreversible driving force for desertification

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) does not distinguish between natural and human drivers, and between active and inherited desertification. Partly as a result of these ambiguities the UNCCD has attracted a low level of international attention. As the Spanish case study shows, this vagueness hinders the implementation of effective strategies to combat this global challenge. Unsustainable agricultural land management is the most blamed desertification agent in Spain but as land use changes trends demonstrate, desertification phenomena are fueled by a push–pull dynamics. Our data indicate that agriculture, rather than being a desertification agent, is a victim of a set of social and economic conditions leading to its abandonment and/or transformation in urban land, becoming irreversibly degraded by soil sealing. From 1975 to 2008, half a million ha of former agricultural land has been made available for development. Urban sprawl has become the most active desertification agent in Spain.
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MPs sound alarm on neglected soils

By Roger Harrabin, BBC
According to an article published on the BBC website on 2 June 2016, MPs say that ministers are failing to protect Britain’s soils on farmland and in cities. The Commons Environmental Audit Committee warns that tracts of polluted soil are a potential health hazard in many towns because the government has stopped grants to decontaminate them.
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Study unlocks surprising behaviour of soil bacteria

Newly sequenced genomes of soil bacteria have raised questions about how differing land management affects the organisms’ behaviour. UK scientists found one strain locked nitrogen in the soil, while another released a potent greenhouse gas. The findings came to light after the researchers sequenced Bradyrhizobium, one of the most active and abundant groups of soil bacteria.
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A troubled future for industrial farming

Less humus means lower fertility – something that no amount of fertilizer can solve. And new cultivation methods bring new problems.
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A Boon for Soil, and for the Environment

At a farm in Peru, charcoal from bamboo burned in special ovens is used to fertilize the soil. Carbon farming is seen as a way of replenishing depleted farmland and helping reduce damage to the environment.
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How does water move through soil?

Soil texture, soil structure, and gravity influence water movement. Each of these factors is critical in how we understand soil hydrology concepts. Once we understand them, we can then use them for agriculture, construction, and environmental sustainability purposes.
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Conferences, Meetings and Workshops

The XVII International Colloquium on Soil Zoology and XIV International Colloquium on Apterygota (ICA) 2016

August 22 to 26, Nara, Japan. Soil zoologists have long been studying taxonomy, evolution, ecology and ecosystem functioning of soil animals. Now there are substantial numbers of evidences that not only soil microorganisms but also soil animals are major players of supporting vital soil, so considering how to conserve soil animals and hence improve soil quality are urgent needs for sustainable soil management. Already more than 200 abstracts have been submitted to these colloquia by the scientists from 32counties.
On 26 August there will be a joint symposium by ICSZ and ICA as an outreach of our recent advancement of soil zoology and Apterygota biology.
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Contact: 2016nara@soilzoology.jp

2016 Annual Meeting – “Soil, Security and Society”

September 7-8, 2016, University of Reading, Berkshire, United Kingdom. This year the British Society of Soil Science teams up with the Soil Security Programme (SSP) to create an inspiring meeting for researchers and practitioners to discuss advances in Soil science, and how we Secure soils for Society. The conference theme will be “Soil, Security and Society”. The closing date for abstract submission is Monday 4th July 2016.
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Geosciences 2016 – “Geosciences and Policies: Economy & Culture in a Changing World”

October 06-07, 2016, Orlando, USA. Conferences Series LLC invites all the participants from all over the world to attend Global Summit on Geosciences. The theme of Geosciences conferences is “Geosciences and Policies: Economy & Culture in a Changing World” which extensively covers all aspects on scientific and technical advances in the field of geosciences and geomatics ranging from the integration of instruments, methodologies and technologies to their use in earth sciences, environmental engineering and other natural sciences. The main objective of the conference is to bring together leading Academicians, Scientists, researchers, graduate students from the field of Geosciences, Geological Sciences, Meteorology, , Atmospheric Sciences, Global warming, Environmental Sciences, GIS & Remote Sensing and others whose interest is to promote Earth Science education at the school, college and university levels, and among the general public.
Special benefits to IUSS attendees due to a mutual agreement:
- Participation certificates issued to all speakers, students/delegates,
- Special discounts on registration for the conference and accommodation,
- Group discounts on participation of 5 or more members from same university/ company/society.

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For speaker slots, please contact: geosciences@insightconferences.com

IUFRO Regional Congress for Asia and Oceania: Forest environment under changing climates and societies

October 24-27, 2016, Beijing, China. The first all Division conference of IUFRO Division 8 “Forest Environment” will be centered on resilience and restoration of forest ecosystems and landscapes under rapidly changing climates and anthropogenic pressures from urbanized societies. Forests soils and nutrient cycles as well as soil biodiversity are among the topics. The aim of this global event is to share state of the art science in the domain of forest environment and to discuss cross-cutting issues in the frame of IUFRO strategic themes while fostering interactions between different units of Division 8 and with other IUFRO Divisions or current Task Forces. Also, the IUFRO regional congress will offer opportunities to extend existing units and networks on forest environment research in Asian and Oceanian countries.
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More Science-Society interfaces for a global soil security

December5-6 , 2016, Paris, France. The 2nd Global Soil Security Conference aims to demonstrate that soil, this highly pressurized and crucial resource, is an indispensable partner to meet sustainable development goals. The demonstration will be done by linking businesses, practitioners, policy makers and researchers on soil security dimensions through good working practices, business solutions, scientific outcomes and international initiatives that enhance protection and sustainable management of soils. We invite you to join us to learn from and share your experiences from land management, business, policy and local practice!
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Soil Erosion modelling Workshop 2017

March 20-22, 2017, Ispra, Italy. This workshop will discuss mainly issues how the local/regional modeling results can be upscaled (or applied) at European scale. The workshop serves also as a follow-up of recent JRC modelling developments and published maps for soil erosion by water and wind. The workshop will try to focus on how various project or local/regional modelling applications can improve the “know-how” at European scale. Emphasis will also be given to management practices that can reduce soil erosion. Young scientists and Post-Docs in soil erosion modelling can apply for travel support. In case you are interested in this workshop, please contact Panos Panagos.
Contact: panos.panagos@jrc.ec.europa.eu

Soil-ecological summer school in Siberia 2017: Land use opportunities across climatic zones on the edge of human influence

Mid July until beginning of August, Siberia. Since 1995 annual excursions across climatic zones in Siberia were offered for students (Siewert et al. (2014): Teaching soil science and ecology in West Siberia: 17 years of field courses. Environmental Education Research. Volume 20, Issue 6, pp. 858-876). On demands of colleagues and former participants this excursion will be enhanced in 2017 in order to support collaboration with Russia for scientists from different fields of knowledge related to land use. The aim of the summer school is to show the resource wealth of natural ecosystems covering climatic zones from tundra to semi-deserts. With the content of the excursion we try to extend knowledge about natural soil formation and soil functions in order to facilitate the understanding of interrelations between land use, local culture, social structure, live style trends and economic needs as a prerequisite for sustainable society development.
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125 Years of IUFRO – Anniversary Congress 2017

September 19 to 22, 2017, Freiburg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. The 125th Anniversary Congress in Freiburg will not only celebrate the accomplishments of the past. It will also establish a dialogue on the future of forestry and forest research. These discussions will focus on globally pressing topics such as how to enhance the contribution forest research will need to make towards mitigating climate change, conserving biodiversity, providing water, creating income and employment, and improving the quality of life. Issues such as how changes and disruptions in society and technologies are likely to impact on forests and people in the future will also be discussed. This will be a meeting that brings together not only forest scientists from around the globe but also leading decision makers from the forestry, environment, development and other key sectors. In doing so, the IUFRO 125th Anniversary Congress aims to provide a platform for the exchange of scientific knowledge and a dialogue across the full range of forest-related topics and scientific disciplines.
Extended Deadline Call for Session Proposals: June 30, 2016
Deadline for Call for Abstracts: September 1, 2016
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New publications

New Land Evaluation report from UNEP’s International Resources Panel (IRP)

“Unlocking the Sustainable Potential of Land Resources: evaluation systems, strategies and tools” is a new guide for land managers, policymakers, natural resource scientists and students. It provides a review of land evaluation principles and concepts, a review of currently new and existing systems, and recommendations for future development. The report was produced by the International Resources Panel (UNEP-IRP) and jointly released with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
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Additional resources

Push Button Agriculture – Robotics, Drones, Satellite-Guided Soil and Crop Management

By K. R. Krishna. June 8, 2016, Apple Academic Press, 470 pages, 68 B/W illus., ISBN 9781771883047, Price £108.00. This book covers three main types of agricultural systems: the use of robotics, drones (unmanned aerial vehicles), and satellite-guided precision farming methods. Some of these are well refined and are currently in use, while others are in need of refinement and are yet to become popular. The book provides a valuable source of information on this developing field for those involved with agriculture and farming and agricultural engineering. The book is also applicable as a textbook for students and a reference for faculty.

Hydrostructural Pedology

By Erik Braudeau, Amjad T. Assi, Rabi H. Mohtar, June 2016, Wiley-ISTE, 186 pages, ISBN: 978-1-84821-994-6. Price (hardcover) £80.00. It first defines the scientific problems of soil science to show that it cannot progress without a physical and systemic approach to the internal organization of the soil and its functionality with water. It shows how the systems approach presented and described by Le Moigne (1994) should be reversed and modified in its application to soil science, descriptive science of the organization of the soil, to allow the development of a physical interaction between water and soil structure. This led to particularly the exact formulation of thermodynamic state equations of the pedostructure. Thus, is opened the possibility of physical coupling, interdisciplinary, between biological models of the living and the organized soil medium represented by the pedon, its horizons and its pedostructures.

Trace Elements in Waterlogged Soils and Sediments

By Jörg Rinklebe, Anna Sophia Knox, Michael Paller (editors). July 15, 2016 – CRC Press, 386 pages | 19 Color Illus. | 156 B/W Illus. ISBN: 978-1-48-224051-1. Price hardback GBP 121.00.
Many wetlands around the world act as sinks for pollutants, in particular for trace elements. In comparison to terrestrial environments, wetlands are still far less studied. A collaborative effort among world experts, this book brings the current knowledge concerning trace elements in temporary waterlogged soils and sediments together. It discusses factors controlling the dynamics and release kinetics of trace elements and their underlying biogeochemical processes. It also discusses current technologies for remediating sites contaminated with trace metals, and the role of bioavailability in risk assessment and regulatory decision making. This book is intended for professionals around the world in disciplines related to contaminant bioavailability in aquatic organisms, contaminant fate and transport, remediation technologies, and risk assessment of aquatic and wetland ecosystems.

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