Update: 21.11.2017

Soil carbon is the largest terrestrial pool of carbon.

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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 128 (February 2016)


Presentations and photos of IYS Celebration event, Dec. 7, Vienna

The presentations given during the conference “Celebration of International Year of Soils 2015 – Achievements and Future Challenges” in Vienna on Dec. 7, 2015, have been uploaded on the IUSS website together with a selection of photos.
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Soil policy in the EU

Although agriculture and forests occupy 78% of the surface of the EU, currently there is not any clearly established soil policy in the EU, and only some member states have approved legislation. Though there are EU guidelines and policies on agriculture, water resources and pollution, lack of European legislation on soil does not ensure an adequate level of protection in Europe. However, the clear risk to achieve objectives on biodiversity and climate change led the EU to establish a Soil Thematic Strategy (2006) on soil protection. The Seventh Environment Action Program recognizes the progress made in the last decades, but still considers soil degradation risk as a serious problem, and that “unsustainable land use is consuming fertile soils, and soil degradation continues, resulting in impacts on global food security and the achievement of biodiversity targets”.
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Source: ASA (American Society of Agronomy) – CSSA (Crop Science Society of America) – SSSA (Soil Science Society of America) Science Policy Report, 10 February 2016

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Potential threats to soil biodiversity in the EU

A recently published JRC article maps the potential threats to three categories of soil biodiversity (namely soil microorganisms, fauna and biological functions), and gives guidelines for identifying soils that are potentially at risk. Ranking the threats to soil biodiversity based on the knowledge of 107 soil experts from 21 countries, the study found the potential risk to soil biodiversity to be remarkably high. JRC developed normalised indices of potential risk to soil biodiversity based on assessments of the threat associated to 13 possible stressors: climate change, landuse change, habitat fragmentation, intensive human exploitation, soil organic matter decline, industrial pollution, nuclear pollution, soil compaction, soil erosion, soil sealing, soil salinisation, the use of GMOs in agriculture and invasive species. Data are available for the soil biodiversity threats plus the 13 input layers.
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Soil threats in Europe: status, methods, drivers and effects on ecosystem services

This report presents some results of the RECARE project. One of the project’s objectives is to provide an improved overview of existing information on soil threats and degradation at the European scale. The report is written by a group of experts from the RECARE team, coordinated by Bioforsk. In total, 60 persons were involved in the process of writing, reviewing and editing. Eleven soil threats were considered: soil erosion by water, soil erosion by wind, decline of organic matter (OM) in peat, decline of OM in mineral soils, soil compaction, soil sealing, soil contamination, soil salinization, desertification, flooding and landslides, and decline in soil biodiversity.
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Call For Nominations: SSSA Awards & Scholarships

The Soil Science Society of America invites nominations for 2016 Awards and scholarships which recognize researchers, educators, extension professionals, and students. Nominate a colleague for one of the dozens of awards. Awards Deadlines: March 22 to initiate nominations and March 29 for reference letters and final submission. Students can apply for numerous scholarships. Scholarship Deadlines: March 29 to initiate applications and April 5 for reference letters and final submission.
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Quo grabis? – Working perspectives in soil science

2015 will be remembered as the International Year of Soils. But where is soil science going and how can young graduates gain a foothold in it? An evening of discussions goes beyond technical aspects and shows that many careers are open to young professionals – in academic and applied fields.
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Patchwork ploughing: Australian farmer creates huge geometric artwork to fight soil erosion

A South Australian farmer has transformed his land into a gigantic geometric patchwork in a bid to fight soil erosion. Brian Fischer created the patterns at Ashmore White Suffolk Stud, north of Adelaide, following recent bushfires. In the absence of any vegetation, he says the furrows prevent gusting winds from causing further damage. “The fires cooked everything,” he told 3AW radio, “but whichever way the wind blows it’s always at 90 degrees [to the furrows] so it can’t get started”. The idea dates back to 1944 – if not earlier – when more than one million hectares of land were destroyed by a raging bushfire in Victoria. Fischer says the pattern took several days to plough but is saving him 15cm of topsoil
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21st Century US 'dustbowl' risk assessed

US scientists have modelled how a 1930s-like “dustbowl” drought might impact American agriculture today, and found it to be just as damaging.
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Global nitrogen footprint mapped for first time

The first-ever global nitrogen footprint, encompassing 188 countries, has found the United States, China, India and Brazil are responsible for 46 percent of the world’s nitrogen emissions. The economic modelling, which grouped the nitrogen footprint into top-ranking bilateral trade relationships, noted a trend for increased nitrogen production and found developed nations largely responsible for emissions abroad for their own consumption.
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Why soil matters more than we realise

Personal view on soil on a blog by Richard Bardgett, Professor of Ecology at The University of Manchester and author of Earth Matters
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Why Earthworms are Worth Keeping Around

Earthworms are your personal gardener. These little guys make organic fertilizer and rid your soil of disease and pests.
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Infographic

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Conferences, Meetings and Workshops

International Workshop on Archaeological Soil Micromorphology (WASM 2016)

Brno, Czech Republic, May 26 – 28, 2016. Like the previous workshops, most of the time will be reserved for “microscope time”. Therefore presentations will mostly be in the form of posters. Everybody is asked to bring and present shortly her/his own thin sections provided for the workshop microscoping.
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8th International Acid Sulfate Soils Conference

College Park, Maryland; July 17-23, 2016. This conference will provide a forum for the exchange ideas regarding the origins, properties, management, classification and reclamation of Acid Sulfate Soils. The organizers hope to include components for the education of those less familiar with Acid Sulfate Soil issues and problems (including engineers, geologists, geographers, politicians/lawmakers, environmental control organizations and agencies and the general public). Three days will be designated for oral and poster presentations (July 18, 19 and 21). Additionally, three field tours are planned throughout the week (July 17, 20 and 22, 23).
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Second circular

Edafología aplicada sobre los suelos del tropico mexicano

International Summer Course, Yucatán, Campeche, Tabasco y Chiapas, Mexico, July 18-28, 2016. More information can be obtained via Email

3rd International Conference on Hydropedology

Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China, August 16-19, 2016. The conference theme is “Hydropedology and Natural Resources in the Earth’s Critical Zone for a Sustainable World”. This once-in-every-four-years event promises to be stimulating, informative, and enjoyable. A number of global leaders, active thinkers, energetic researchers, young scientists, diverse students, industrial practitioners, and other professionals are expected to attend. Abstract deadline: March 1, 2016.
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International Colloquium on Soil Zoology (ICSZ)

Kasugano International Forum IRAKA, Nara City, Japan, August 22-26, 2016. Soil zoology is an important component of soil science. There is an increasing global demand for soil conservation. Knowledge on taxonomy, biogeography and ecology of soil animals is needed to understand the sustainable management of planet soil. We believe that this meeting will contribute to global soil conservation. Therefore, the meeting theme is “Biodiversity for Our Future Earth”.
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New Challenges and Strategies of Soil and Water Conservation in the Changing World Sustainable Management of Soil and Water Resources.

Third World Conference of World Association of Soil and Water Conservation (WASWAC). Belgrade, Serbia, August 22-26, 2016. First Announcement and Call for papers. The registration form and detailed information is available at the conference website.
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Furthermore, there is an announcement of WASWAC Outstanding Youth Paper Award 2016.
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Soil Landscape Modelling course in Wageningen, 3-7 October 2016

Following a recent review and the development of novel models, the soil-landscape modelling community now organises a soil-landscape modelling course for all interested PhD candidates, postdocs and other academics. Learning objectives include gaining an understanding of concepts and modelling approaches, and working on the participant’s own case studies with some of the available models. It is our intention to make course attendance as cheap as possible. Ask us about options for support if this course is very interesting for your work.
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ISHS Symposium 2016 Sensing Plant Water Status – Methods and Applications in Horticultural Science

Potsdam (Campus Griebnitzsee), Germany, October 5-7, 2016. This symposium will provide a platform to exchange findings on established and new methods in sensing plant water status- ranging from soil water uptake to plant canopies. Consequently, soil properties and soil water status will be a major topic. Early registration will end at June 30, 2016. Deadline for abstract submission is March 15, 2016.
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Sustainable Development of Soil and Water Resources in Nile Basin Countries

Cairo, Egypt, October 17- 19, 2016. Conference topics: Soil resources in Nile basin countries and optimum management to overcome the encountered problems; Cooperation between Nile basin countries to control desertification, erosion, degradation and soil pollution; Sustainable agricultural development of Nile basin countries; Hydrology of Nile River; Water policies in the Nile basin countries. Causes and sources of pollution of Nile River; The scientific cooperation between Nile basin countries to control water pollution; Enhancement of scientific research cooperation between institutions in Nile basin countries. Abstracts submission deadline: end of June 2016. Full texts should be submitted no later than 31 August 2016.
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15th International Conference on Soil Micromorphology

Mexico City, Mexico; November 27 – December 5, 2016. This conference will be organized jointly with the IUSS Commissions 1.3 Soil Genesis and 1.6 Palaeopedology. The early registration fee for full participants at the Conference will be 200 €; the student fee will be 150 €, with appropriate verification of student status.
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New publications

Bodenatlas Deutschland. Böden in thematischen Karten [Atlas of German Soils in thematic maps].

Hrsg.: Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe (BGR), Hannover 2016, 144 S., 48 Karten, 67 Abb., 8 Tab., 29×36 cm, ISBN 978-3-510-96855-8, gebunden, 38.80 EUR. Only available in German. Aktuelles und modernes Standard-Kartenwerk zum Thema Boden für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland; Der Atlas enthält in einer systematischen Abfolge sieben Kapitel mit geowissenschaftlichen und bodenkundlichen Grundlagenkarten, zu bodenphysikalischen und bodenchemischen Kennwerten, zum Wasser- und Stoffhaushalt des Bodens sowie zu Gefährdungen, zu Potenzialen und weiteren Darstellungen mit Bezug zum Bundes-Bodenschutzgesetz.
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Sediment Quality Assessment – A Practical Guide, Second Edition

By Stuart Simpson and Graeme Batley (Editors), February 2016 by CSIRO Publishing, 360 pages, Colour photographs, Line Art, 245 × 170 mm, ISBN: 9781486303847, Price Paperback AU $ 79.95.
Contaminated sediments represent an ongoing threat to the health of aquatic ecosystems. The assessment of sediment quality is, therefore, an important concern for environmental regulators. Sediment quality guidelines are now well established in regulatory frameworks worldwide; however, practical guidance that covers all of the key aspects of sediment quality assessment is not readily available. In 2005, CSIRO published its highly cited Handbook for Sediment Quality Assessment. In the ensuing period, the science has advanced considerably. This practical guide is a revised and much expanded second edition, which will be a valuable tool for environmental practitioners. Written by experts in the field, it provides coverage of: sediment sampling; sample preparation; chemical analysis; ecotoxicology; bioaccumulation; biomarkers; and ecological assessment. In addition, detailed appendices describe protocols for many of the tests to be used.

Biochar in European Soils and Agriculture – Science and Practice

Edited by Simon Shackley, Greet Ruysschaert, Kor Zwart, Bruno Glaser, February 29, 2016 by Routledge, 302 pages, 95 B/W Illustrations, ISBN: 9780415711661, Price Hardcover £75.00.
This user-friendly book introduces biochar to potential users in the professional sphere. It de-mystifies the scientific, engineering and managerial issues surrounding biochar for the benefit of audiences including policy makers, landowners and farmers, land use, agricultural and environmental managers and consultants, industry and lobby groups and NGOs. The book reviews state-of-the-art knowledge in an approachable way for the non-scientist, covering all aspects of biochar production, soil science, agriculture, environmental impacts, economics, law and regulation and climate change policy. Chapters provide ‘hands-on’ practical information, including how to evaluate biochar and understand what it is doing when added to the soil, how to combine biochar with other soil amendments (such as manure and composts) to achieve desired outcomes, and how to ensure safe and effective use. The authors also present research findings from the first coordinated European biochar field trial and summarize European field trial data. Explanatory boxes, infographics and concise summaries of key concepts are included throughout to make the subject more understandable and approachable.

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Job offers

Professor in the field of soil resources

The Department of Environmental Systems Science (http://www.usys.ethz.ch) of ETH Zurich in¬vites applications for a professorial faculty position focusing on (1) the role of soil as a key natural resource, supporting a wide range of forest and other terrestrial ecosystem functions and services and (2) quantifying the effects of changes of land use and climate on various soil functions at local to global scales. The appointment will be at full professor level. Candi¬dates should be interested in system-oriented multidisciplinary research and are expected to develop an innovative and internationally recognized research program, making an important contribution to linking the assessment and modelling of soil function to land-use and climate change.
The successful candidate will have a strong background in soil sciences as well as an inter¬national track record in research and will be a motivated and capable university teacher. Ad¬ditionally, skills in mathematical modelling and/or spatial information systems are a great plus. Teaching duties will include introductory and advanced-level courses on the asses¬sment, modelling and management of soil resources as part of the environment. The new professor will be expected to teach undergraduate level courses (German or English) and graduate level courses (English).
Please apply online
Applications should include a curriculum vitae, a list of publications, and a statement of future research and teaching interests. The letter of application should be addressed to the President of ETH Zurich, Prof. Dr. Lino Guzzella. The closing date for applications is 15 March 2016. ETH Zurich is an equal opportunity and family friendly employer and is further responsive to the needs of dual career couples. We specifically encourage women to apply.
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Executive Director of the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR) programme, Beijing, China.

The International Council for Science (ICSU), the International Social Science Council (ISSC) and the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN-ISDR) invite applications for the post of Executive Director of the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR) programme, which will be vacant on 01 June 2016.
The Executive Director of IRDR is expected to:

  • Lead on the elaboration and implementation of a strategy and workplan in close collaboration with the co-sponsors and the Scientific Committee;
  • Facilitate the development, implementation and co-ordination of IRDR science projects, policy projects and those carried out jointly with partner programmes;
  • Lead on the development and implementation of a communications and outreach strategy;
  • Actively engage with the IRDR community (international centres of excellence, national committees, etc.) and stakeholders in China, across the region, and globally (including the international policy community and funding agencies);
  • Promote the establishment and/or strengthening of national IRDR committees and regional initiatives, with an emphasis on improving the science/policy interface;
  • Lead on fundraising for the programme; and
  • Ensure effective representation and links between IRDR and other relevant international research programmes and their sponsoring organizations, including Future Earth.

The Executive Director will hold a PhD in a natural, social, medical or engineering science discipline related to natural hazards and disaster risk reduction and have several years of direct experience in international programme management. Proven management, fundraising, and diplomatic skills, and capacity to work in a multi-cultural environment will be essential. Both an excellent command of written and spoken English and a working knowledge of Mandarin are required.
The following additional qualities are considered to be essential: ability to lead and motivate a small team; operating in a complex area; high level of flexibility and adaptability; ability to think strategically while managing the operational side of the programme, including host reporting requirements; an understanding of Asian and other cultures.

Applications should include: (i) a Curriculum Vitae; (ii) a covering letter explaining why you are interested in the post, and outlining the skills and experience you feel you, the candidate, could bring to IRDR and its IPO; and (iii) the names and addresses of three individuals who have indicated their readiness to provide a reference. Applications combined into a single PDF file should be sent to the International Council for Science (ICSU) via e-mail to recruitment@icsu.org, with “IRDR Executive Director” in the subject line. The closing date for applications is 18 March 2016 midnight Paris time (CET).
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