Update: 13.10.2017

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 142 (April 2017)


IUSS News

Request for Contributions to the next IUSS Bulletin 130

The IUSS Secretariat (iuss@umweltbundesamt.at) would like to kindly invite all IUSS members to submit their contributions for our next IUSS Bulletin 130 (to be published in June) at their earliest convenience, but no later than 15 May 2017. In particular, the Secretariat would welcome conference/meeting reports and reports on activities dedicated to the International Decade of Soils (2015-2024), answers to the “Five Questions to a Soil Scientist”, your three favourite soil science books and any other information you would like to share with the international soil science community. Please make sure to send high-resolution photos only.

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IUSS presentation at EGU General Assembly 2017

At EGU 2017 taking place in Vienna, 24 to 28 April 2017, IUSS will share a booth with the Brazilian, British and Italian Soil Science Society. IUSS will present its Divisions and their most recent activities. The IUSS Flyer was updated accordingly. In order to increase the extent of its contributions to solving soil-related issues such as climate change or food and water security through public outreach campaigns, education, dissemination of information and the publication of a series of soil books, IUSS is hosting the Short course ‘International Decade of Soils: Ideas for outreach activities’ on Tue, 25 Apr, 13:30–15:00 / Room -2.31. Ongoing activities carried out by soil science societies will be presented, which shall give rise to further activities as well as creating new ideas for the future.
Commission 2.2 Soil chemistry is convening session SS6.2/BG9.11 Soil organic matter turnover: from molecules to ecosystems and back again (co-organized), Orals / Wed, 26 Apr, 08:30–10:15 / Room -2.47, Posters / Attendance Wed, 26 Apr, 17:30–19:00 / Hall X1. Division 4 is co-convening session SSS1.4 Soil, Art, Culture, and History, Orals on Tue, 25 Apr, 15:30–17:15 / Room -2.20, posters Tue, 25 Apr, 17:30–19:00 / Hall X1.
You are welcome to visit the booth and to join the sessions and the short course!
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Download flyer

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REMINDER: Call for nominations of IUSS Division and Commission Officers 2018-2022 prolonged

We have started the election process for the 4 Division chairs and 44 Commission chairs and vice chairs. The First and Second Vice-Chairperson of each Division shall be appointed by and from the host country where the next World Congress of Soil Science will take place.

We are still seeking nominations for all positions, and a description of the Divisions is given here:
>>http://www.iuss.org/index.php?article_id=40

The description of the specific duties and functions of Divisions and Commission officers is given here:
http://iuss.boku.ac.at/files/duties_and_functions_of_division_and_commission_chairs_and_vice_chairs.pdf

IUSS Full Members (national soil science societies who paid the membership fees) are encouraged to look for suitable candidates and propose them to the Divisional Nominating Committees. Nominees cannot be nominated for more than one position.

Please send in the application before 30 April 2017. The application should include the position, a 100 words biography and homepage URL, if available. It should be sent to:

The new timeline is as follows:
30 April 2017: call for nominations ends
2 June 2017: list of candidates and their biographies available
1 September 2017: voting system will open
31 December 2017: voting system will close
12 February 2018: announcement of new IUSS officers

We look forward to receiving your application and candidacy.

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Newsletter of Commission 1.1. Soil Morphology and Micromorphology

The most recent newsletter (volume 20, April 2017) from IUSS Commission 1.1. Soil Morphology and Micromorphology is now available. Issues covered range from reports on successful meetings such as the 15th International Working Meeting on Soil Micromorphology last November-December in Mexico, the Soil Morphology Conference in Moscow (December 2016), to the announcement of exciting future events and research notes and publications.
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General News

High soil carbon in Natura 2000 sites brings potential for climate-smart conservation

Natura 2000 sites have, on average, 10% more carbon in their topsoil than non-protected areas, according to new research. They also, generally, have lower economic value for agriculture. The results suggest that there is significant potential to develop win-win biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation efforts within the EU. Biodiversity loss and the effects of climate change are major environmental challenges. Linking biodiversity conservation within protected areas and the mitigation of climate change — ‘climate-smart conservation’ — is therefore desirable in order to improve the cost-effectiveness of both strategies.

In this study, researchers assessed to what extent areas of high soil carbon correspond with the Natura 2000 protected area network. Natura 2000 is an integral part of the EU’s biodiversity conservation strategy. It is the world’s largest network of protected areas, covering 18% of the land area within the EU. As well as biodiversity, the EU’s 2020 Biodiversity Strategy covers the protection of ecosystem services, such as carbon storage. The EU’s climate strategy proposes storage of carbon in soils and forests and the protection of carbon-rich ecosystems. The Soil Thematic Strategy also outlines the actions required to protect soil across the EU. The Natura 2000 network has been estimated to have a carbon storage potential of 9.6 billion tonnes of carbon. Areas of Europe with high biodiversity, high carbon content and lower land value are the most cost effective for conservation and mitigating climate change.
Read more on the Soil Thematic Strategy

Source: Jantke, K., Müller, J., Trapp, N. & Blanz, B. (2016)
Is climate-smart conservation feasible in Europe? Spatial relations of protected areas, soil carbon, and land values. Environmental Science & Policy. 57: 40–49. DOI:10.1016/j.envsci.2015.11.013.

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Modelling change in soil organic carbon under future climate conditions

Climate change is expected to alter regional temperature and precipitation patterns and will subsequently impact soils and the distribution of plants and animals. Understanding how soils might vary with climate change will allow us to better prepare for and adapt to the altered soil conditions, according to Jonathan Gray, Senior Scientist with the New South Wales Government Office of Environment and Heritage. And this, he says should ultimately improve our management of agricultural lands and native ecosystems into the future. Gray describes a novel approach to modelling potential changes in soil organic carbon (SOC) as the lead author on a recent paper in the Soil Science Society of America Journal.
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Opinion | Soils ain't soils

Channelling the brilliant Castrol GTX ads ‘soils ain’t soils, Sol’: pre-1788 Australian soils were carbon rich with levels some five to 10 times higher than current levels, as reported by the explorer Strzelecki in 1845. A return to such stored carbon levels across Australia would be equivalent to a massive capture of atmospheric carbon.
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The business case for soil

Nobody likes dirty business, but the business world must get to grips with dirt. Soil provides food, fibres and fuels, and regulates water resources and climate. Yet most businesses are unaware that their bottom lines depend on soil; nor are they aware of the risks they face from its degradation. More must recognize that improving soil quality is a smart investment.
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Women in soil science

Women are still a minority in soil science and related fields. However, their representation at conferences as keynote speakers, on editorial boards, as reviewers, and on grant funding panels, is even worse. A list of women in soil science has been set up (this includes any field related to or overlapping with soil science: soil ecology, soil physics, soil biogeochemistry, soil biology, plant-soil interactions, agronomy….). The list is intended to form a resource for conference organisers, funders, and journal editors – anyone who is looking for keynote speakers or wants to appoint soil scientists to boards or panels.
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Healthy soil is the real key to feeding the world

One of the biggest modern myths about agriculture is that organic farming is inherently sustainable. It can be, but it isn’t necessarily. After all, soil erosion from chemical-free tilled fields undermined the Roman Empire and other ancient societies around the world. Other agricultural myths hinder recognizing the potential to restore degraded soils to feed the world using fewer agrochemicals.
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Scientists Successfully Grow Potatoes in Mars-Like Soils

In March of last year, a group of Dutch scientists announced that they had grown 10 different plant species—including tomatoes, peas, rye, garden rocket, radish and garden cress—in dirt engineered to mimic the harsh, arid soil of Mars. A new study suggests that potatoes may be able to survive on the Red Planet, too. As Katherine Ellen Foley reports for Quartz, researchers at the International Potato Center (known as CIP, its Spanish acronym) were able to sprout a crop of spuds in Mars-like soils.
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SSSA and USDA-NRCS partner with two universities to produce documentary film on arctic soils/climate change…

Alaska has been the source of myth and legend in the imagination of Americans for centuries, and what was once the last frontier of American expansion has become the first frontier in climate change. Between Earth and Sky – Climate Change on the Last Frontier is a feature length documentary film which examines climate change through the lens of impacts to native Alaskans, receding glaciers, and arctic soil. The island of Shishmaref has been home to the Inupiaq people for thousands of years. As sea ice retreats and coastal storms increase the people of Shishmaref are faced with a disappearing island and a 200 million dollar price tag to move their people with an untold cost on their culture and history. Permafrost (permanently frozen ground) in northern upland landscapes sequesters 40% of the earth’s carbon, Alaska has experienced the largest regional warming of any state in the U.S. increasing 3.4 degrees F since 1949. This warming has created a feedback loop of carbon to the atmosphere and the thawing of permafrost impacting the daily life of Alaskans. Mixing interviews with some of the world’s leading scientists in climate change and arctic soils, with the day to day struggle of native Alaskans living on the front lines of global warming, Between Earth and Sky shows the calamity of climate change that has started in Alaska but is already engulfing the globe. The film was directed by three time Emmy award winner Paul Allen Hunton and produced by Dr. David C. Weindorf, both from Texas Tech University.
The film is an official selection of both the Colorado Environmental Film Festival, and the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital. Screenings are occurring across the United States and in Italy, Austria, and the UK.
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ISRIC – World Soil Information launches new website

Today, ISRIC – World Soil Information has launched a new corporate website to better serve the needs of users of soil information around the globe. Rik van den Bosch, director of ISRIC: “The new site is yet another step to show how seriously we take our mission to serve everyone who needs quality-assessed soil data. We are confident it will also act as a catalyst to engage with new clients interested in making a difference through the application of soil information”.
Highlights of the new site are: Soil Data Hub for easy search and download of the major ISRIC data products; Newly established section for professionals who want to use soil information but need assistance in doing so; Re-designed section on soils for the general public, including the ISRIC virtual Soil Museum.
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Conferences, Meetings and Workshops

Pedometrics conference / business meeting WG Soilscape modelling

Wageningen, 26-30 June, 2017. At the forthcoming Pedometrics conference the IUSS Working Group on soilscape modelling will organise two activities: 1. a Pre-conference workshop on Hands-on modelling of soil – and soilscape development, conditional to sufficient subscriptions (please see the link below); and 2. a business meeting, most likely on Tuesday 27 June 17:00-17:45.
Read more Pedometrics
Read more hands-on-modelling-of-soil

A key meeting point: 25th Aapresid Congress + 7WCCA

Centro Metropolitano de Convenciones of Rosario, Argentina, August 1-4, 2017. This year, the 25th Annual Aapresid Congress will be held along with the 7th World Congress on Conservation Agriculture (7WCCA), in order to promote together the sustainable productive strategy that grows in the region and take it to the world. The 7WCCA will share time and place with the 25th Aapresid Congress, an event already consolidated as the most important technological reference meeting in the continent and recognized worldwide as a true network for update, exchange of knowledge and a showroom for advanced technologies. A meeting with two outstanding plenary rooms for the keynote speakers, 10 workshop rooms, a spectacular commercial hall and an open park with high tech machinery. This meeting provides the opportunity to learn from the associations and farmer networks of No Till in an international meeting point with experts from all sectors. Food security, climate change, small farmers and family agriculture, gender equality, biotechnology, innovations in machinery, bioenergy, water, soils, crops, agribusiness, legislation and much more are among the themes that will be part of the proposal of this international event. Paper submissions from 20/03 to 17/05/2017 and will be carried out through an online system.
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International Symposium on Growing Media, Soilless Cultivation, and Compost Utilization in Horticulture

Portland, Oregon, USA, 20-25 August 2017. Abstract submission extended to 1 May, 2017! This will be the final extension. All presenters (oral or poster) are required to register by 1 May for their abstract to be considered and accepted. Graduate students are highly encouraged to attend. There will be a graduate student oral/poster session with the top students receiving awards.
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New publications

Adaptive Soil Management: From Theory to Practices

Rakshit, A., Abhilash, P.C., Singh, H.B., Ghosh, S. (Eds.), 1st ed. 2017 by Springer, 571 pages, 121 illus., 75 illus. in colour, ISBN 978-981-10-3638-5, price hardcover € 199.99 | £149.00 | $229.00.

The book focuses on learning and adapting through partnerships between managers, scientists, and other stakeholders who learn together how to create and maintain sustainable resource systems. As natural areas shrink and fragment, our ability to sustain economic growth and safeguard biological diversity and ecological integrity is increasingly being put to the test. In attempting to meet this unprecedented challenge, adaptive management is becoming a viable alternative for broader application. Adaptive management is an iterative decision-making process which is both operationally and conceptually simple and which incorporates users to acknowledge and account for uncertainty, and sustain an operating environment that promotes its reduction through careful planning, evaluation, and learning until the desired results are achieved.
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Phytoremediation: Management of Environmental Contaminants, Volume 5

Edited by Ansari, A.A., Gill, S.S., Gill, R., Lanza, G. and Newman, L., 1st ed. 2017 by Springer, XIV, 514 pages, 91 illus., 83 illus. in colour, ISBN 978-3-319-52381-1, price hardcover € 214.00 | £159.50 | $249.00.

This text details the plant-assisted remediation method, “phytoremediation”, which involves the interaction of plant roots and associated rhizospheric microorganisms for the remediation of soil contaminated with high levels of metals, pesticides, solvents, radionuclides, explosives, crude oil, organic compounds and various other contaminants. Many chapters highlight and compare the efficiency and economic advantages of phytoremediation to currently practiced soil and water treatment practices. Volume 5 of Phytoremediation: Management of Environmental Contaminants provides the capstone of the series. Taken together, the five volumes provide a broad–based global synopsis of the current applications of phytoremediation using plants and the microbial communities associated with their roots to decontaminate terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
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Anthropogenic Soils

By Howard, Jeffrey. 1st ed. 2017 by Springer, XIII, 231 pages, 66 illus., 38 illus. in colour, ISBN 978-3-319-54331-4, price hardcover €86.99 | £64.99 | $99.00.

Published in the Series Progress in Soil Science, this book serves as a companion book to Springer’s Anthropogenic Landforms text, and is a state-of-the-art review of the physical, chemical and mineralogical properties of anthropogenic soils, their genesis morphology and classification, geocultural setting, and strategies for reclamation, revitalization, use and management.
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Carbon Sequestration for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation

By Ussiri, David A. N. and Lal, Rattan. 1st ed. 2017 by Springer, XIV, 549 pages, 57 illus., 53 illus. in colour, ISBN 978-3-319-53845-7, price hardcover € 239.00 | £178.00 | $279.00.

This volume sets out the scientific basis for the current understanding of climate change. It synthesizes and collates extensive scientific knowledge to show why climate is changing, and the consequences of those changes. Starting with global carbon cycling over the geological history of the Earth, the behaviour of the carbon cycle is traced back millions of years prior to human influence and shows that the current atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is unprecedented, which cannot be found in geological records of at least the past two million years. This book sets the foundation for understanding the contemporary carbon cycling, and shows that the contemporary carbon cycling cannot be isolated from geologic history of carbon cycle. This volume also describes the role of carbon sequestration – both natural ecological, engineered and geoengineered options – for mitigating the increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration.
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Combating Desertification and Land Degradation. Spatial Strategies Using Vegetation

By J. Hooke, P. Sandercock. 1st ed. 2017 by Springer, X, 135 pages, 42 illus., 34 illus. in colour, ISBN 978-3-319-44451-2, price hardcover €49.99 | £37.99 | $54.99.

This book describes an approach developed to research and apply methods of assessing patterns of processes in the landscape, and the suitability of different types of vegetation to mitigate soil erosion and sediment flux. Practical guidelines on a spatially strategic approach to management of land degradation at a range of spatial scales were produced. Originally developed for the Mediterranean environment, it has much wider potential global application. It provides researchers with methods to acquire the knowledge necessary for such an approach and provides practitioners with guidance on implementation and benefits of targeted methods of soil erosion control. It includes substantial information about processes and vegetation in the Mediterranean environment and the species effectiveness in soil erosion control.
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The Soils of Greece

By Yassoglou, N., Tsadilas, C., and Kosmas, C. 1st ed. 2017 by Springer, XXII, 113 pages, 38 illus., 37 illus. in colour, ISBN 978-3-319-53334-6, price hardcover € 114.99 | £86.00 | $129.00.

Published in the World Soils Book Series, this book presents a comprehensive and up-to-date overview on soils of Greece. It includes sections on soil research history, climate, geology, geomorphology, major soil types, soil maps, soil properties, soil classification, soil fertility, land use and vegetation, soil management, soils and humans, soils and industry, future soil issues. The book summarizes what is known about the soils in Greece in a concise and highly reader-friendly way.
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Urban Expansion, Land Cover and Soil Ecosystem Services

Edited by Ciro Gardi. Published in April 2017 by Routledge, 302 pages, 80 Colour Illus., 128 B/W Illus., ISBN 978-1-13-888509-7, price hardcover £95.00.

More than half of the world population now lives in cities, and urban expansion continues as rural people move to cities. This results in the loss of land for other purposes, particularly soil for agriculture and drainage. This book presents a review of current knowledge of the extension and projected expansion of urban areas at a global scale. Focusing on the impact of the process of ‘land take’ on soil resources and the ecosystem services that they provide, it describes approaches and methodologies for detecting and measuring urban areas, based mainly on remote sensing, together with a review of models and projected data on urban expansion. The most innovative aspect includes an analysis of the drivers and especially the impacts of soil sealing and land take on ecosystem services, including agriculture and food security, biodiversity, hydrology, climate and landscape.
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Soil Health and Intensification of Agroecosystems

Editored by Birl Lowery and Mahdi Al-Kaisi. 1st Edition published March 2017 by Academic Press, 418 pages, ISBN 978-0-12-805317-1, price paperback €89.95.

Soil Health and Intensification of Agroecosystems examines the climate, environmental, and human effects on agroecosystems and how the existing paradigms must be revised in order to establish sustainable production. The increased demand for food and fuel exerts tremendous stress on all aspects of natural resources and the environment to satisfy an ever increasing world population, which includes the use of agriculture products for energy and other uses in addition to human and animal food. The book presents options for ecological systems that mimic the natural diversity of the ecosystem and can have significant effect as the world faces a rapidly changing and volatile climate. The book explores the introduction of sustainable agroecosystems that promote biodiversity, sustain soil health, and enhance food production as ways to help mitigate some of these adverse effects.
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Soil Mapping and Process Modeling for Sustainable Land Use Management

By Paulo Pereira, Eric Brevik, Miriam Muñoz-Rojas and Bradley Miller. 1st Edition published 20 March 2017 by Elsevier, 398 pages, Paperback ISBN 978-0-12-805200-6.

Soil Mapping and Process Modeling for Sustainable Land Use Management is the first reference to address the use of soil mapping and modeling for sustainability from both a theoretical and practical perspective. The use of more powerful statistical techniques are increasing the accuracy of maps and reducing error estimation, and this text provides the information necessary to utilize the latest techniques, as well as their importance for land use planning. Providing practical examples to help illustrate the application of soil process modeling and maps, this reference is an essential tool for professionals and students in soil science and land management who want to bridge the gap between soil modeling and sustainable land use planning.
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Microbial Biomass. A Paradigm Shift in Terrestrial Biogeochemistry

Edited by: Kevin R Tate. First published in April 2017 by World Scientific Publishing, 348 pages, ISBN 978-1-78634-130-3, price hardcover £123.00.

Microbial Biomass informs readers of the ongoing global revolution in understanding soil and ecosystem microbial processes. In terms of contemporary issues, it also serves to support urgent efforts to sustainably manage land to feed a growing world population without compromising the environment. It presents new methods of investigation which are leading to more sustainable management of ecosystems, and improved understanding of ecosystem changes in an increasingly warmer world. The book approaches the topic by looking at the emergence of our understanding of soil biological processes, and begins by tracing the conception and first measurement of soil microbial biomass. Following this, changes in ecosystems and in natural ecosystem processes are discussed in relation to land management issues and global change. Microbial biomass and its diversity are recognized as key factors in finding solutions for more sustainable land and ecosystem management, aided by new molecular and other tools.
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Soil and Soil Fertility Management Research in Sub-Saharan Africa. Fifty years of shifting visions and chequered achievements

By Henk Mutsaers, Danny Coyne, Stefan Hauser, Jeroen Huising, Alpha Kamara, Generose Nziguheba, Pieter Pypers, Godfrey Taulya, Piet van Asten and Bernard Vanlauwe. Published in the series: Earthscan Studies in Natural Resource Management in March 2017, 362pages, 168 illustrations, ISBN Hardback: 978-1-138-69851-2, price: £88.00 UK/$120.00 USD; ISBN eBook: 978-1-315-51885-5, price: £27.99 UK/$43.96 USD. 20% Discount Available – enter the code FLR40 at checkout.

Soil fertility management is crucial for sustainable crop production and for food security in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). This book describes the various paradigms underlying soil fertility research in SSA over the last fifty years. It provides examples of important innovations generated and assesses the position of research within the research-for-development (RforD) community.
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