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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.

SuperSoil 2004 - A Super Conference in Sydney

This excellent conference, which was held from 5-9 December 2004, was organised by the Australian and New Zealand Soil Science Societies. A few statistics won’t go amiss. A total of 325 participants attended for the whole three days of the conference and another 33 attended a single day of their choosing. Of these 277 were from Australia and 65 from New Zealand, 6 came from the United States, 3 from the United Kingdom, 4 from The Netherlands and four from Germany.

The Conference on the whole ran like clockwork and this was due in part to all the talks end the poster sessions, as well as the morning and afternoon tea/coffee sessions and the lunches being in the same convenient building. The field trip to the Hunter Valley, that your correspondent took, was instructive in that even in 2004 so many soil scientists still descend like rabbits into a hole to look at a soil profile, without ever gazing at the surrounding landscape and first making sure of the geomorphology of the site and identifying the condition of the native vegetation. I think there is a task here for soil science departments to cure this form of myopia among their students.

The keynote papers by Professor Donald L. Sparks, Professor Johan Bouma, Dr Brent Clothier, Professor Bob Gilkes and Stuart B. Hill and Rebecca Lines were excellent, and had a notable reflective content on where soil science has been, and where perhaps it is going (if it is going anywhere). Professor Sparks tantalised us with all the new gee whiz technology that is becoming available to soil science. The three following speakers looked at what had happened to soil science in the modern global economy and what were the underlying driving forces. Professor Bouma tried to forecast the future and how soil science should position itself to survive. Stuart Hill introduced a strong psychological, ethical and political note in discussing the challenges to achieve sustainable land management, and Rebecca Lines-Kelly, who is not a soil scientist but a journalist, gave the last keynote address about the human perspective on soils from ancient history till today in such a wonderfully erudite and moving manner that many of us, including your correspondent, had tears in their eyes when the lights went on again. She would be better able to speak to government ministers on behalf of the soil, she would round up the troops behind her and march them to the battlefield than any of us soils people!

Dr Ir Robert H.M. van de Graaff
van de Graaff & Associates Pty Ltd
Mitcham, Victoria, Australia