For Chairpersons and Vice Chairs see IUSS People
Division 1 – Soils in Space and Time
Division 1 is the “What.” It looks at the soil as a body and how it was formed, the extent of it global coverage, and the many complex interactions and interactions with the biosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and lithosphere. This division focuses its attention on the “what” of the pedosphere and the extent of its current understanding. It is the medium and experimental material that is being investigated. It is why we are a Union of soil scientists in a common bond of interests.
Soils in time and space is a Division that deals with the “body” of soil in a landscape context. It quantifies pedogenic processes responsible for spatial diversity in soil cover with landscape, geomorphic and geographic patterns. It includes the scaling of soil morphology from micro to macro levels of generalization, calibration of morphology to pedogenic processes, and integration of this pedosphere knowledge with that of the biosphere, atmosphere, lithosphere, and hydrosphere. Only through the knowledge of morphogenesis is it possible to develop rational multiple working hypotheses of soil formation, soil chronology, soil morphology, and geographic distribution patterns. Without this linkage there is little opportunity to extrapolate our knowledge base on soil attributes beyond immediate locals where it was derived. Using a morphogenic bias, it is possible to catalogue and classify the population of soil attributes and generate multiple-use interpretations with spatial or tabular representations using GIS, and other state-of-the-science technologies.
Division 2 – Soil properties and processes
Division 2 is the “How” or the fundamental science behind our discipline, the understanding of fundamental processes.
Division 2 is concerned with the integration of physics, chemistry, biology, mineralogy and pedogenesis to understand fundamental soil properties and processes that control transport, cycling, speciation and bioavailability of elements or molecules. These phenomena are studied at multiple scales ranging from global to atomic.
Division 3 – Soil Use and Management
Division 3 is the “Why” it is important to society. It is the application of our fundamental knowledge to solve high priority social, economic, and environmental challenges of major societal and scientific interest. It can be considered the applied segment of science.
“Soil Use and Management” is a Division which focuses on how we use the soil and how it links to the knowledge base of Divisions 1 and 2 in order to ensure that soils are used and managed in a sustainable manner. The Division is concerned with both soil use and management in terms of agricultural production, forestry, grazing lands, and the broader environmental context. Activities to remediate degraded soil, arising from the agricultural misuse of soil or contaminations resulting from non-agricultural activities are part of the scientific area of this Division. The aim of this Division is to ensure that through our knowledge and understanding of soil properties and processes and the distribution of soils within the landscape soils and soil quality are maintained and improved.
Division 4 – The Role of Soils in Sustaining Society and the Environment
Division 4 is more generalized and entails the transfer and outreach of our knowledge base to segments of our society where soils and soil science are frequently misunderstood or sometimes under appreciated. It takes the soils information generated in the other three divisions along with developing new scientific information and addresses public literacy in soil science, education, international conventions, consequences of human activities on soil ecosystems, policy issues, food security, history of the discipline, etc. This division might be considered the “capstone” division because it must integrate our scientific body of knowledge so scientists, policy makers, and those specialists remote to soil science may become more informed about the utility of this most essential natural resource at the Earth’s surface. It is the scientific entity that interacts well beyond traditional bounds.
There is a need to provide soil science input in many policy-related topics addressing environmental and social concerns. This Division will provide the soil science input in the decision-making process and address special issues that will be brought to the attention of the IUSS especially in relation with the human and socio-economic use of the soils.