Update: 27.05.2018

Soil is one of the most complicated biological materials on our planet.

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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 134 (August 2016)


Update on IUSS Presidential elections

As you already know, the election of the next IUSS President is due this year. The call for nominations was published in a separate Alert on 16 March 2016. The nomination period for the Presidential elections closed May 31. The two nominated candidates, Professor Alex McBratney (Australia) and Professor Takashi Kosaki (Japan), were accepted by the Presidential Election Committee. The Council (National Soil Science Societies in good financial standing with IUSS, Executive Committee members and 3 Honorary Members) may cast their vote until 15 September 2016. The result of the election will be presented to the President and Executive Committee following the conclusion of the vote and subsequently announced to members by email and on the IUSS website.

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Call for Nominations: Dokuchaev and Liebig Awards

Two awards are presented by the IUSS at each World Congress of Soil Science to recognize outstanding contributions in two areas: the IUSS Dokuchaev Award for basic research in soil science and the IUSS Liebig Award for applied research in soil science.
Eligible nominees and nominators are members of the IUSS. Each award consists of an engraved medal, a certificate, a US$ 1000 honorarium, and financial support to attend the presentation at the World Congress of Soil Science. Nomination procedures are on the IUSS Website. Go to http://www.iuss.org and then click on “About the IUSS” and then click on “Awards & Prizes” and then click on “Dokuchaev award” or “Von Liebig award” and then click on “Criteria & Guidelines.” Submissions are due one year before the beginning of the WCSS. The next WCSS begins in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 18 August 2018. Therefore, nominations are due 18 August 2017. Nominators who have submitted previous nominations are encouraged to submit the nomination again. For further information, please contact M.B. Kirkham ( mbk@ksu.edu ).

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Margaret Oliver Award for Early-career Pedometricians Call for Nominations, 2017 award

The Pedometrics Commission of the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) is pleased to introduce a new award, which is intended to recognize up-and-coming talent in pedometrics. The award is named for Margaret Oliver, in recognition of her outstanding commitment to the promotion and encouragement of pedometricians in the early stages of their careers as well as her overall service to pedometrics. The award will be given at each biennial meeting of the Pedometrics Commission starting with the Pedometrics 2017 , 26-June – 01-July 2017 in Wageningen ( http://www.pedometrics2017.org ). Nominations should be sent before December 1, 2016.
Read more: http://iuss.boku.ac.at/files/oliver_medal_call_for_nominations_2016.pdf

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Newsletter of IUSS Division 4 ‘Soil Connects’ published

Issue 4 of the SOIL Connects Newsletter of IUSS Division 4 was published. It has a number of interesting articles including one on how to keep soils sexy after the IYS, asks whether microbes can survive the drying of the world’s soils and gives an example of soil ‘s role in preserving archaeological heritage, to name just a few.
Read more: http://iuss.boku.ac.at/files/division_4_newsletter_issue_4_13072016.pdf

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Donald L. Sparks receives Clay Science Award

Donald L. Sparks, Unidel S. Hallock du Pont Chair in Environmental Soil Chemistry at the University of Delaware and director of the Delaware Environmental Institute, has received the 2016 Pioneer in Clay Science Award from the Clay Minerals Society (CMS) for his pioneering work. The award recognizes research contributions that have led to important new directions in clay mineral science and technology.
Read more: http://www.udel.edu/udaily/2016/june/pioneer-clay-science-award/?utm_source=UDaily+Subscribers&utm_campaign=203c31a886-UDaily_News_Email&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0b5034716d-203c31a886-177571321#.V2TEFCyawDU.mailto

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Pál Stefanovits (1920-2016)

The Hungarian Soil Science Society and the IUSS Secretariat were sad to learn that our distinguished soil scientist Pál Stefanovits died on August 4th, 2016 at the age of 95. The major scientific fields of professor Stefanovits span from soil minerals to soil classification and mapping. The development of the Hungarian soil classification system and his classic soil text books were the foundation of a strong soil science school in Hungary. His publications, participation in international meetings and soil mapping projects brought him international recognition. The death of Pál Stefanovits, honorary president of the Hungarian Soil Science Society, member of the Hungarian, the Ukrainian, the German and the Austrian Academy of Sciences, is a great loss for the international soil science community. His legacy will be summarised in the next IUSS Bulletin.

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Soil Biodiversity featured in PNAS

The Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas and GSBI Associates Tandra Fraser and Thomas Crowther were featured in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences news feature: Crucial role of belowground biodiversity.
Read more: http://www.pnas.org/content/113/28/7682

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GSBI seeks to unify soil indicator research

Much work has and is being done linking soil biodiversity indicators with ecosystem functions. GSBI seeks to connect knowledge of past policy decisions based on indicators with emerging global interest. Contact us to share your knowledge with the global scientific community.
Contact: info@globalsoilbiodiversity.org

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ISRIC World Soil Museum can now be visited virtually

The World Soil Museum of ISRIC – World Soil Information in Wageningen can now be visited online. The museum has a collection of reference soil profiles from around the world. These 3D profiles, or monoliths, are used to explain main soil forming factors and to show the importance of the soil for ensuring food security, mitigating climate change, or in terms of their cultural value. The museum, the collection, including the objects in the collection storage – normally off limits to visitors – can now be visited online. You can explore the museum as part of an online tour and search for specific data and information on each soil profile. Further, you can also view profiles from the storeroom which houses the majority of the collection, and obtain a complete overview of the soil profiles by country or soil type. This means you can put together your own exhibition for your studies or as a work project. The virtual tour is available in English. The scope of the virtual tour will be gradually extended.
Online tour: http://wsm.isric.org/#tourGoogle

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ISRIC releases upgraded SoilGrids system: up to two times improved accuracy of predictions

ISRIC – World Soil Information has just released a major update of its global predictions of soil properties and classes, now available at a spatial resolution of 250 m. The previous SoilGrids system at 1 km resolution has been systematically upgraded and the accuracy of the predictions has been improved (up to two times) compared to the previous predictions. The new version of SoilGrids predictions comes with an open data licence.
SoilGrids data are available for viewing and download via the data portal at http://www.soilgrids.org and via the SoilInfo App (available for Android and Apple devices).
Read more: http://www.isric.org/content/isric-releases-upgraded-soilgrids-system-two-times-improved-accuracy-predictions

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White House call to save U.S. soil natural resources

Soil plays critical roles in food security, climate mitigation, ecosystem function, and buffering against extreme weather events. Although it is essential for the stability of the planet, soil is disappearing at an alarming rate. In issuing a call to action for soil, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy seeks innovative actions from Federal agencies, academic scientists and engineers, farmers, entrepreneurs, businesses, advocates, and members of the public in a nationwide effort to impede soil loss, enhance soil genesis, and restore degraded soils.
Read more: https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2016/08/01/call-action-save-one-americas-most-important-natural-resources

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Spatial and temporal variability of soil water content

The topsoil water content plays a key role in partitioning energy and water fluxes at the land surface. Knowledge about its spatial and temporal variability is crucial for improving climate and hydrology modelling. In the June 2016 issue of Vadose Zone Journal, researchers studied the spatial heterogeneity of topsoil water content, which is expressed as the relationship of the spatial standard deviation of the topsoil soil moisture to the spatial mean soil moisture. Past studies have shown that sq first increases during drying out, reaches maximum value at some critical spatial mean soil moisture and then decreases thereafter. However, the drying out and rewetting processes sequentially alternate each other in time, and this relationship demonstrates hysteresis.
Read more: https://dl.sciencesocieties.org/story/2016/jul/wed/spatial-and-temporal-variability-of-soil-water-content

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The 7 biggest problems facing science, according to 270 scientists

Science is in big trouble. Or so we’re told. In the past several years, many scientists have become afflicted with a serious case of doubt — doubt in the very institution of science. As reporters covering medicine, psychology, climate change, and other areas of research, we wanted to understand this epidemic of doubt. So we sent scientists a survey asking this simple question: If you could change one thing about how science works today, what would it be and why?
Read more: http://www.vox.com/2016/7/14/12016710/science-challeges-research-funding-peer-review-process

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Soil microbes burp carbon dioxide after drought-breaking rain

An unpredictable source of carbon emissions in areas of sporadic rainfall is the carbon dioxide released from soil when rain falls after drought. The emissions come from soil microbes, and as Catherine Osborne explains, these critters are very difficult to study. But recent advances in DNA sequencing technology have made things easier. In her work at the University of California Berkeley, Catherine investigated soil microbes.
Read more: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/scienceshow/soil-microbes-burp-co2-after-drought-breaking-rain/7652800

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The definition of soil since the early 1800s

Soil scientists and the definition of soil have changed over time. This paper reviews how the definition of the soil has changed since the early 1800s by selecting and listing 81 definitions given in a wide range of soil science books, handbooks, glossaries and dictionaries. Initial definitions of the soil were based on developments in agricultural chemistry or geology. The soil was seen as a production factor (medium) for agriculture that needed to be understood before it could be improved, or the soil was defined as disintegrated rocks mixed with organic matter. Definitions were rudimentary reflecting the overall level of understanding. This review ends with a proposal for a scientific definition of soil, and a definition for lay persons and the general public.
Read more: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/293649319_The_definition_of_soil_since_the_early_1800s

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Sustainable soil management key to Africa's food security

The Status of the World’s Soil Resources report has established that 40 per cent of Africa’s soils are severely degraded. A recent report published in Down To Earth points out that desertification has turned out to be a big challenge for Africa, seriously undermining its efforts in sustainable soil management. The continent suffers from soil erosion and low soil fertility which pose a threat to food production. By 2050, Africa will witness an enormous growth in population. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, more than a quarter of sub-Saharan Africa’s people are undernourished. Crop production will need to increase by 260 per cent by 2050 to feed the continent’s population. Better land management practice is one of the ways to fight climate change and increase resilience of farming systems in the continent.
Read more: http://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/sustainable-soil-management-key-to-africa-s-food-security-54817?platform=hootsuite

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‘Soil and Air’ – Where Crops Meet the Environment

You probably know that climate change affects how we grow food, but you might not know that how food is grown also affects our climate. This interplay is at the heart of an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) project called “Soil and Air,” a concerted effort to feed the Earth’s 7.5 billion people while protecting the planet.
Read more: http://blogs.usda.gov/2016/05/31/soil-and-air-where-crops-meet-the-environment/

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Soilcam captures living underground

This time-lapse captures how things decompose underground.
Video: https://www.facebook.com/TechInsiderScience/videos/927452267363450/

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New version of Chem_Transport software released

Chem_Transport is a software package of several models that describe the transport and sorption of chemicals in soils and other porous media. There are two new features in version 2. The user now has the option of providing input data in a template which is to be populated by the user. The second feature is that two new models are now included in this package. The first model deals with stir flow and the second model deals with solute transport through a thin disk system.
Read more: http://www.spess.lsu.edu/Chem_Transport

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Conferences, Meetings and Workshops

Conservation Agriculture Conference 2016

September 6-8, 2016; ATKV Drakensville, South Africa. A no-till conservation agriculture conference compiled by farmers for farmers, practical in nature, technology that is up to date, encouragement for your self-confidence, motivation for your future sustainability. This conference is supporting the International decade of Soils 2015–2024.
Website: http://www.notillclub.com/index.php/conference

Young Soil Scientist Workshop / Encuentro de Jóvenes Investigadores en Ciencias del Suelo

September 28-30, 2016; Valdivia, Chile.
Read more (in Spanish): http://www.cisvo.cl/ejics/
Contact: josedorner@uach.cl

Soil Improvement and Resource Utilization

October 25- 27, 2016; Guangzhou Circle Building, Guangzhou, China. This conference will be organized by the Guangdong Institute of World Soil Resources. Essential to the stability of ecosystem, soil plays a fundamental role in agricultural production and food security. It’s a vital natural element which enables human beings to sustainably produce and thereby to survive generation by generation. Ecological and sustainable agriculture growth requires proper utilization of soil resources as well as great efforts in soil remediation and improvement, which generates an urgent need to familiarize the public with knowledge in soil improvement and resources utilization. The workshop will review and discuss the innovative achievements made in soil amelioration and soil resource utilization year to date, in a bid to provide a platform for experts, scholars and entrepreneurs in this field to conduct theoretical research and exchange research results.
Read more: http://hdxy.cn/yth/yth-en/index.html

IUSS Inter-Congress Meeting 2016

November 20-25, 2016, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Inter-Congress Meeting of the Council is held every 4 years at the venue of the upcoming World Congress of Soil Science 2 years before the Congress. The major purpose of this meeting is a business meeting of the Council. This time, the host country will propose a symposium to discuss and plan the WCSS theme: SOIL SCIENCE: Beyond Food and Fuel. Reduced registration fee until October 20, latest registration until November 15, 2016.
Read more: http://www.21wcss.org/ic2016/index.php?lang=en_US

Soil Stakeholders’ conference

5 December 2016, 9:30 – 18:00 hrs, Brussels, Belgium; organised by the Directorate General for Environment of the European Commission. This event is a contribution of the European Commission to the World Soil Day 2016 aiming at raising awareness on the importance of soils and the ecosystem services that they deliver. It is also part of the implementation of the EU Soil Thematic Strategy. The objective of this conference is to present the outcomes of the inventory and gap analysis of soil-related legislations at EU and Member states level, and the MAES Soil ecosystem services project. This will lead to a discussion on challenges and further policy developments with stakeholders. Registration will be open in September.
Read more: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/soil/public_events_en.htm

Frontiers of Potassium

January 25 – 27, 2017, Rome, Italy. The International Plant Nutrition Institute is pleased to invite you to participate in the upcoming international conference designed to exchange information on how to improve potassium plant nutrition and soil management to better the health of soils, plants, animals, and humans. The 4R Nutrient Stewardship framework is integrated into the conference structure to keep the discussions anchored to the information needs of farmers and those who provide nutrient management guidance.
Read more: http://kfrontiers.org

Soil Science Society of Nigeria, 41st Annual Conference on “Land Degradation, Sustainable Soil Management and Food and Nutrition Security”

March 13– 17, 2017, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, Nigeria. The Conference subthemes are; (a) Soil related aspects of Sustainable Development Goals (b) Management of degraded soils in Nigeria: Strategies and Challenges © Soil information services in Nigeria: A necessary tool for sustainable land management (d) Climate change: A challenge to sustainable land resource management and soil productivity (e) Soil fertility management in Nigeria (f) Indigenous technical knowledge, training and capacity building in Soil Science. The meeting aims to bring together academic scientists, researchers and research scholars to exchange and share their experiences and research results on all aspects of Land Degradation and Sustainable Soil Management in relation to Food Security and Nutrition. It also provides an interdisciplinary platform for researchers, practitioners and educators in soils, food science, human nutrition and health to present and discuss the most recent innovations, trends, and concerns as well as practical challenges encountered and solutions adopted in the fields of Land Degradation, Sustainable Soil Management, Food Sufficiency, Quality and Human Health. Abstract submission closes on 31st December, 2016.
Contact: sssn.atbu2017@gmail.com

Pedometrics 2017 Conference

June 26 -July 1,2017 the 25th anniversary of Pedometrics will be celebrated in Wageningen, the Netherlands. Pedometrics is a branch of soil science dedicated to the application of mathematical and statistical methods for the study of the distribution and genesis of soils.
Abstract submissions are now open for conference topics ranging from ‘big data, data mining and machine learning for soil science’ to ‘proximal soil sensing’. We are also calling for submission of proposals for pre-conference workshops.
Pedometrics 2017 is organised by the Pedometrics Commission of the International Union of Soil Science and its Working Groups: Digital Soil Mapping, Digital Soil Morphometrics, Modelling of Soil and Landscape Evolution, Proximal Soil Sensing and Soil Monitoring. It will be an excellent opportunity to present and discuss your work and learn about recent developments in quantitative soil science.
Read more: http://www.pedometrics2017.org/

2nd Global Soil Biodiversity Conference

October 15-21, 2017, Nanjing, China. GSBI is collaborating with the Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences to host the Second Global Soil Biodiversity Conference.
Read more: https://globalsoilbiodiversity.org/

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New publications

Essential Soil Physics. An introduction to soil processes, functions, structure and mechanics

1st edition, based on the fourth, completely revised and extended German edition; By Robert Horton; Rainer Horn; Jörg Bachmann; Stephan Peth (editors). 2016 by Schweizerbart Science Publishers, 389 pages, 186 figures, 24 tables, ISBN 978-3-510-65288-4, price hardcover: 72.00 €.

This textbook introduces the reader gently but comprehensively to soil physical processes. The authors discuss both the origin and dynamics of soil physical properties and functions – volume-mass relations of the solid, water and gas phases, grain and pore size distributions, permeability and storage capacity for water, gases and heat – and finally soil deformation and strength in relation to mechanical and hydraulic stresses resulting in structural changes through compaction, kneading, slaking and soil crusting. This book is valuable for researchers, upper-level undergraduate students, and graduate students of agronomy, soil science, horticulture, geo-sciences, environmental science, landscape architects and everybody interested in understanding the intricate physical processes which control and modify soil functions.
Read more: https://www.schweizerbart.de/publications/detail/isbn/9783510652884/Hartge_Horn_Essential_Soil_Physics_g

Soil Phosphorus

Edited by Rattan Lal, B. A. Stewart; August 2016 by CRC Press. 339 pages, 15 colour illus., 47 B/W illustrations, ISBN 9781482257847, price hardback: £89.00. Phosphorus is an essential plant nutrient, but global population growth has dramatically reduced the availability of phosphorus fertilizer resources. Despite this scarcity, there remain numerous problems associated with the excessive and inappropriate use of phosphorus leading to non-point source pollution and eutrophication of natural waters. Identifying appropriate systems for managing soil phosphorus and reducing the risks of eutrophication are needed to minimize the environmental risks. This book focuses on the availability and recycling of phosphorus; regulatory and policy issues of sustainable phosphorus use; and water quality management in agroecosystems pertaining to phosphorus.
Read more: https://www.routledge.com/Soil-Phosphorus/Lal-Stewart/p/book/9781482257847

Soil: The Life Supporting Skin of Earth

Kristín Vala Ragnarsdóttir and Steven A. Banwart (eds.); January 2015, published as an eBook by the University of Sheffield, Sheffield (UK) and the University of Iceland, Reykjavík (Iceland). 50 pages, ISBN 978-0-9576890-2-2. This bood was written as an output from the research project: SoilTrEC (Soil transformations in European catchments). Framework 7 Env.2009.2.1.2.1 Soil Processes and Modelling, Large-Scale Integrating Project, grant agreement number 244118. Target audience are school children from 11-18.
Weblink: http://www.iuss.org/index.php?article_id=179

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