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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.

Soils under Global Change, a Challenge for the 21st Century

Constanta, Romania, September 3 - 6, 2002

The Conference tried to offer scientists an opportunity of emphasizing the importance of soil quality and of the risks for its degradation, as well as of discussing solutions for prevention and/or mitigation of these processes and for a sustainable use of soils. The major items included were: water and wind erosion, landslides, waterlogging and flooding, aridization, salinity and sodicity, compaction and structure deterioration, humus and nutrients deficiencies, acidification and alkalization, pollution with various contaminants, as well as problems related to drought, climate change, greenhouse gas emission, carbon sequestration and desertification and relations of these problems to soil quality and soil degradation. The European Union new strategy for agriculture and environment was presented and discussed. As the Conference was organized in a country now changing from one economic system to another one, and as many of the participants came from other countries being in the same situation, specific and often difficult problems related to such changes were considered.

More than 200 scientists from 31 countries were registered for the Conference, and 130 abstracts of papers were published. The Programme of the oral sessions included 56 papers, of which 11 papers from leading scientists from different countries, and the one of the poster sessions 74 papers. The Proceedings of the Conference, with the full-text papers, will be published in the next future.

Results presented and discussions taking place during the Conference proved that various soil degradation processes are present all over the World, in any climatic and landscape environment, in developed, developing and undeveloped countries. Further spread of soil degradation and lack of rehabilitation were shown to represent a serious risk for food security, for development of a clean environment, and finally even for social and political stability. Solutions to deal with soil degradation, of great interest for both farmers and decision makers, should certainly be different, specific to each of the local particular conditions. Such technical solutions should certainly also take into consideration macro-economic, social and political elements.

The official dinner at the end of the Conference took place in a local club, well known for its traditional Romanian meals, music and dance. One of the Conference participants, Professor Winfried Blum, proved to be not only a leading scientist, but also an excellent dancer, able to learn quickly a not too easy Romanian dance, and he was awarded one of the prices for his performance.

A mid-conference tour allowed the participants to know the Valu lui Traian Agricultural Research & Development Station, 70 years old. Long term field experiments on mineral and organic fertilization and use of dried waste mud from swine feedlots, as well as more recent experiments on conservation tillage and soil compaction, were visited and discussed. The post-conference tour (September 7 – 10, 2002) allowed the participants to visit the National Research & Development Institute of the Danube Delta, and the delta itself, one of the largest wetlands still existing in Europe. A recently reclaimed and drained polder in the Danube Floodplain was visited, and problems concerning salt-affected soils were presented at the Central Research & Development Station for Saline Soils Improvement Braila. Areas with various soil erosion problems were examined at the Central Research & Development Station for Soil Erosion Control in Perieni.

The origin of this Conference was coming from two earlier European Union Concerted Actions on Subsoil Compaction (under the FAIR and respectively the INCO-COPERNICUS Programmes), even if a much larger scope was included here. The organizers are acknowledging the support offered by the European Union, as well as the one of the Romanian Ministry for Education and Research.

A. Canarache
Research Institute for Soil Science and Agrochemistry,
Bucharest, Romania