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In a handful of fertile soil, there are more individual organisms than the total number of human beings that have ever existed.

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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 133 (July 2016)


WRB now available in Spanish

The third edition of the international soil classification system World Reference Base for Soil Resources (WRB) is now available in Spanish. After the Polish version, this is the second translation of the current WRB. Many thanks to Silvia Chávez and Francisco Manríquez (INEGI, Mexico) for the draft, to Roque Ortiz (University of Murcia, Spain) for the final editing and to the FAO team for making the publication possible. Translations into some other languages are currently in progress.
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Reminder: Call for Nominations for 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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Global Soil Biodiversity Maps

ESDAC distributes 2 datasets of the recently published Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas. The Soil Biodiversity map is presented on pages 90-91 of the Atlas and shows a simple index describing the potential level of diversity living in soils on our planet. This dataset is based on distribution of microbial soil carbon and distribution of main groups of soil macrofauna. The second dataset is presented on pages 134-135 of the Atlas. The map shows the potential rather than the actual level of threat to soil organisms. Many proxy datasets have been used to develop this map: loss of aboveground biodiversity, pollution and nutrient overloading, agriculture use, overgrazing, fire risk, land degradation, climate change, etc.
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Better soil data key for future food security

To project how much food can be produced in the future, researchers use agricultural models that estimate crop yield, or how much of a crop can be produced in a certain amount of space. These models take into account factors like climate and weather variability, irrigation, fertilizer, and soil type. A new study published in the journal Nature Communications shows that the type of soil used in such a model can often outweigh the effects of weather variability – such as year to year changes in rainfall and temperature. The study is the first global assessment of the importance of soils in global crop models.
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High-resolution digital soil map identifies intricate corn-yield environments

Integrating spatial information into decision processes for precision agriculture is a key approach to site-specific management. Soil maps, such as the NRCS Soil Survey Geographic (SSURGO) dataset, are often used to partition fields into separate zones but still lack the resolution needed for implementing precision agriculture. Digital soil models (DSMs) are used to help improve traditional soil maps by integrating high-resolution environmental data with statistical processes to define complex soil-landscape associations; however, methods for validating their success in precision agriculture are needed.
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Increase claying to decrease soil erosion

Increasing the clay content of sandy soils in the Great Southern could reduce soil erosion risk by improving crop establishment, according to a project by North Stirlings Pallinup Natural Resources (NSPNR). Funded through the Federal Government’s national Landcare program, the soil erosion management project conducted in 2015 and 2016 at five sites south of Borden demonstrated the effect of applying clay subsoil to sandy duplex soils.
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Soil increasingly at risk from household products

Changing Australian soil conditions are exposing crops to silver nanoparticles, which are widely used in household products, a study led by The University of Queensland has found. Study author and senior lecturer in soil science Dr Peter Kopittke from the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences said silver nanoparticles generally pose a low risk to agricultural food production, however testing in certain soil conditions led to an “unexpected” finding.
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Soil ‘booster shots’ could turn barren lands green

A new study reveals that the addition of foreign soil—and more importantly, the organisms it contains—can shape which plants will grow in the future. Such “inoculations” could even help bring back fallow farmlands and turn deserts green. “This is a really cool and remarkable study,” says Harsh Bais, a root biologist at the University of Delaware, Newark, who was not involved in the work. “Dirt matters”.
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Hubus - Erde schenken (from German: to give earth as a present)

Hubus inspires city dwellers to transform their daily bio-waste into fertile soil. It offers elaborate vermicompost furniture, tools for comfortable waste handling, and a network to exchange soil in order to establish a tightly closed loop of matter. Benefits are created for people and for nature.
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Take a tour through the world soil museum at Wageningen –

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Conferences, Meetings and Workshops

IDRC Davos 2016: Integrative Risk Management – towards resilient cities

August 28 – September 1, 2016, Davos, Switzerland.
IDRC (International Disaster and Risk Conference) Davos 2016 will again gather international attendees from various fields, researchers and practitioners, policy and decision makers, representatives from the UN, IGOs, universities, NGOs and the private sector. Celebrating its 10 years anniversary, the conference offers a platform for an interdisciplinary dialogue and fosters a holistic understanding of risk reduction and disaster management. The aim of the conference series is to present reliable scientific facts and technological solutions and to stimulate discussion on current challenges and opportunities among representatives from diverse scientific and professional disciplines. Through the inclusion of business and policy, we make sure that practical and innovative solutions to reduce global risks can be implemented. The organizers are happy to announce an outstanding scientific conference programme.
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Joint DBG/IUSS Workshop ‘Interactions of soil biological and soil physical processes and Free topics’

September 1-2, 2016, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Germany. The Commission I „Soil Physics and Soil Hydrology“ of the German Soil Science Society (DBG) and the Commission 2.1 „Soil Physics“ of IUSS will organize a workshop with a focus on the influence of biological, chemical and physical factors on mechanical and hydraulic properties of soil. The meeting aims at an exchange of ideas and new developments in current soil physical research related to the above motto or free topics. Deadline for registration and abstract submission: 10 August 2016
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SOMmic – Microbial Contribution and Impact on Soil Organic Matter, Structure and Genesis

November 9 – 11, 2016, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Leipzig, Germany. There is increasing evidence that microbial bio- and necromass are significant parts of SOM, interacting with soil minerals. The control of SOM forming processes via microbial activity and community dynamics depending on biodiversity and functional redundancy is largely unknown. Omics technologies and chemical analysis of complex mixtures, multi-isotope approaches and imaging techniques offer new research opportunities. Also latest modelling approaches, e.g. in systems ecology and environmental thermodynamics, open up new vistas to study the outlined topic. We invite presentations on recent findings, methodological challenges, and innovative concepts to the workshop and expect inspiring discussion. Deadline for abstract submission: 31 August, 2016
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Intersol 2017: The Europe of Polluted Sites and Soils: Blockages and Successes

March 14-16, 2017, Lyon, France. International Conference-Exhibition on Soils, Sediments and Water; Deadline for call for papers: November 4, 2016.
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LuWQ2017 – 3rd International Interdisciplinary Conference on LAND USE AND WATER QUALITY: Effect of Agriculture on the Environment

May 29 –June 1, 2017 The Hague, the Netherlands. Abstract submission deadline is October 17, 2016.
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New publications

Soils and Sediments as Archive of Landscape Change. Geoarcheology and Landscape Change in the Subtropics and Tropics

By Bernhard Lucke, Rupert Bäumler and Michael Schmidt (editors). 2016 by Franconian Geographical Society and Palm & Enke, ISBN 978-3-941665-04-0. Price EUR 29, shipping inside Germany EUR 4,90 , international EUR 16. For ordering please send an email to geographie-fgg@fau.de , and copy it to boris.michel@fau.de in case of international shipping. The book was compiled in order to support interdisciplinary collaboration of archeology with soil science in the subtropics and tropics. The focus is therefore on methods of investigating soils and sediments in the context of geoarchaeological questions. The idea to produce the book was born out of the challenges of interdisciplinary collaboration in the subtropics and tropics, since not much literature for these regions is available that illustrates the potentials and limitations of the methods of soil and sediment analysis.

Paludiculture – productive use of wet peatlands. Climate protection – biodiversity – regional economic benefits

By Wendelin Wichtmann; Christian Schröder; Hans Joosten (editors) with contributions by 73 authors. July 2016 by Schweizerbart Science Publishers. 272 pages, 109 tables, 49 infoboxes, 21×28cm, ISBN 978-3-510-65283-9; price hardcover: EUR 79.90. The volume introduces paludiculture as a novel land use practice for the production of biomass, which is further able to reactivate or sustain a wide variety of ecosystem services impaired by peatland drainage. Biomass from wet peatlands is useful for various applications: as fuel and raw material, food, fodder and medicine.
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Digital Terrain Analysis in Soil Science and Geology, 2nd Edition

By Igor V. Florinsky. Expected release: August 4, 2016, Academic Press, ISBN : 978-0-12-385036-2, 506 pages. Price hardcover: EUR 106.25. The updated second edition of this comprehensive reference presents an integrated overview of the principles, methods, and applications of digital terrain analysis and modeling in the context of soil science and geology, featuring the latest advances in techniques for recognition, analysis, and interpretation of topographically manifested geological features.
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