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.

International Symposium on Soil and Plant Analysis

South Africa, January 2003

The International Symposium on Soil and Plant Analysis (ISSPA) is the premier international gathering and showcase event in soil and plant analysis. The 8th ISSPA was held in a congenial atmosphere at the Lord Charles Hotel in Somerset West, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, January 13-17, 2003 (Theme: Challenges for Sustainable Development: The role of Soil, Plant, and Water Analysis). It continued a successful series of symposia held biennially since 1989. It was sponsored by the Soil and Plant Analysis Council and the Agri Laboratory Association of Southern Africa (AgriLASA). The purpose of the symposium was to bring together agricultural and natural resource scientists from around the world to disseminate information on methodology, terminology, interpretation and application of soil, plant, and water analyses for the purpose of efficient resource management, sustainable production, and environmental protection. The program included tours, training workshops, an instrument expo, and plenary and poster sessions

The Local Organizing Committee included Lizelle Adams, Karen Adendorff, Andries Claassens, and Arri van Vuuren (Chair). Other members of the Symposium Organizing Committee were Robin Barnard (South Africa), Yash Kalra (Canada), Jan Meyer (South Africa), Robert Miller (USA), George Rayment (Australia), and Byron Vaughan (USA). The Symposium Program Committee included Robin Barnard (Chair), Andries Claassens, Yash Kalra, Robert Miller, and Arri van Vuuren. Anette Palm (Germany) was the symposium manager. Claude Moller (South Africa) was the master of ceremonies. George Rayment received the prestigious J. Benton Jones, Jr. Award for his significant contributions in the development and advancement of soil testing and plant analysis.

A 212-page Program and Abstracts book was given to all the registrants at the beginning of the symposium. The oral and poster papers will be published in a proceedings as a special issue of the Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis after a scientific review. There were six half-day training workshops: (1) The interpretation of soil, leaf, and sap analyses (2) Latest trends in laboratory automation (3) Soil fertility concepts for laboratory personnel (4) Scanning NIR techniques and applications (5) Soil testing in organically enriched soils and growth media (6) Managing soil acidification.

A number of highly regarded keynote speakers presented oral papers. These plenary papers and the poster papers were presented in the following eight sessions: (1) Different proficiency testing systems (2) Organically enriched soils and growth media: Production and analytical challenges (3) New analytical techniques and approaches (4) Appropriate agricultural systems for emerging farmers (5) Micronutrients: Future trends and requirements (6) Smart sampling and precision farming (7) Soil acidity and amelioration (8) Pollution, salt affected soils, and the environment.

The pre-symposium tour on January 8-12 took the Garden Route to Port Elizabeth (known as The Friendly City) stopping at various points of interest such as the highest bungee jumping (216 m) location in the world. We visited the 11,718 ha Addo Elephant National Park in the Eastern Cape. The wildlife included elephant, Cape water buffalo, Burchell zebra, black rhino, wart hog, eland, kudu, red hartebeest, grey duiker, Cape grysbok, bushbuck, black-backed jackal, yellow mongoose, vervet monkey, bat-eared fox, stork, ostrich, and the unusual flightless dung beetle. The tour included a visit to the 5,000 ha Amakhla Game Reserve; the guided tour of man-eating Nile crocodiles at the Reed Valley Crocodiles was followed by a 2-hour game drive in open Land Rovers. The wildlife included giraffe, zebra, bat-eared fox, many antelope species.

(L to R) Yash Kalra (Canada), Christos Tsadilas (Greece), Peter Csatho (Hungary), Robert Miller (USA), and Darryl Warncke (USA) at one of the eight poster sessions.

(L to R) Yash Kalra (Canada), Christos Tsadilas (Greece), Peter Csatho (Hungary), Robert Miller (USA), and Darryl Warncke (USA) at one of the eight poster sessions.

(e.g., wildebeest, impala, gemsbok, and red hartebeest), and tortoise. After dinner in the bush Lapa, a night drive to view nocturnal animals completed the Safari. The stay in Port Elizabeth gave us the unique opportunity to swim in the beautiful Indian ocean and relax on the beach. On January 11, we drove to Oudtshoorn (ostrich capital of the world) ) via the spectacular Outeniqua pass. After a stop at Knysna, we boarded the Outeniqua Choo Tjoe for a train trip to George. The Choo Tjoe is the last steam-hauled scheduled passenger train operating in Southern Africa. We then returned to the coach and continued our trip to Oudshoorover. On January 12, we travelled back to Somerset via Route 62. The stops included a visit to the world famous Cango Caves, where the mysterious and breathtaking limestone formations have been sculpted by nature through the ages. Route 62 is the travellers route which meanders between Cape Town, Oudtshoorn, and Port Elizabeth. It is the world’s longest wine route (380 km). The post-symposium tour on January 17 included visits to the Charles Back, Delheim, and Lanzerac Manor wineries.

On January 12, after the pre-symposium tour, Michael Chetty (a delegate from Durban, South Africa) took Desh Duseja (a delegate from Nashville, USA) and me to Gordon’s Beach. He was wearing a T-shirt Volvo for life. We went to a restaurant Spur Steak Ranches to check out the Castle. On the menu there was a slogan A taste for life. I had met Michael and Desh at the 7th ISSPA in Edmonton in 2001. So ISSPA’s motto can be Friends for life.

I will always remember the stunning view of Cape Town (known as The Mother City) from the top of the flat-topped Table Mountain (1,000 m above sea level). I will remember it the same way as I remember that more than 35 years ago I was on the second floor of 43 Kings Drive in Winnipeg when I heard on the radio that Christiaan Neethling Barnard performed the world’s first human heart transplant on December 3, 1967 at the Groote Schuur Hospital. I got a chance to see this historic hospital during my visit to Cape Town. If you go to South Africa, Cape Town is a must-visit.

The ISSPA is now held alternately in North America and overseas. The 9th ISSPA will be held in Cancun, Mexico in early 2005. It will be organized by the Soil and Plant Analysis Council, Colegio de Postgraduados, and the Mexican Soil Science Society. The theme will be Soil, Plant, and Water Analysis: Quality Analytical Tools for an Era of Ecological Awareness. Jorge Etchevers is the Chair of the Symposium Organizing Committee e-mail Further information will be posted on our web site ( Stay tuned !

Yash P. Kalra, Canadian Forest Service
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada