Update: 13.05.2019

Soil is one of the most complicated biological materials on our planet.

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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.

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IUSS Alert 158 (August 2018)


We are sorry, but due to holiday reasons this Alert could be sent out just today.


21st World Congress of Soil Science in Rio was a success

The IUSS thanks the Brazilian organisers of this Congress, in particular the Brazilian Soil Science Society, Flavio Camargo as Chairman of this congress and his team for setting up the wonderful frame for this big soil event, adjusting it to ad-hoc needs, as well as the 4,234 registered participants who contributed with their 648 oral and 1608 poster presentations and discussions to the success of this congress.

The Soil Judging Contest which took place on the three days before the congress saw a tough competition between 12 teams and 48 individuals respectively; the winners were awarded during the impressive Opening ceremony of the congress on Sunday, August 12.

During the 21st World Congress of Soil Science, eight conferences with highly renowned scientists and authorities were held, with subjects related to the event theme – Soil Science: beyond food and fuel. In addition, there were also 73 conferences in 16 Interdivisional Symposia, 75 divisional symposia and 15 IUSS working group symposia, plus 3 poster sessions and 5 Technical & Innovation Symposia.

During the Gala Dinner on Thursday, August 16, the Award Ceremony was held in which the IUSS award winners 2018, the new IUSS Honorary members, the outgoing officers of the IUSS Executive Committee and the people supporting the congress organisation were acknowledged.

In the Exhibition of the congress the IUSS was represented at booth no 32. A lot of participants informed themselves about the organisation of IUSS, in particular young researchers, others looked into the books of the IUSS book series or discussed past and future activities.

The Closing ceremony on Friday, August 17 provided a resume of the congress, an outlook to the next WCSS in 2022 in Glasgow, an explanation of the global soil icon and an outlook on global issues which require translating soil science and its major discoveries into action.

The Programme of the congress can be downloaded as pdf document from the WCSS website. The Proceedings of the 21st WCSS with the abstracts of the 2,256 papers, presented orally or as poster will be available for download on the 21st WCSS homepage soon.

Read more: https://www.21wcss.org/

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IUSS participates in ICSU Grant Project “TROP-ICSU” – latest news

TROP-ICSU stands for Trans-disciplinary Research Oriented Pedagogy for Improving Climate Studies and Understanding. Teachers and educators can now visit the TROP ICSU website to access and use more than 20 detailed lesson plans that integrate the teaching of a topic in a specific discipline with a topic in climate science or climate change: https://tropicsu.org/resources/lesson-plans/all-lesson-plans/

Following a preliminary survey among educators on Teaching Toolkits for school and undergraduate teachers (educators) to understand how topics related to climate change are currently discussed in the classroom in different parts of the world, to which IUSS contributed, it is planned to provide more information to educators about the project and the materials it provides and to do a teachers training (most probably in autumn 2018). Furthermore, climate change tools considering soil information will be explored and can still be included in the tool collection. If you know such tools, please let us know by email to iuss@umweltbundesamt.at.

If you want to participate in the online survey among educators, this is still possible: https://tropicsu.org/educators-survey/

Read more: https://tropicsu.org/

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Richard Murray Lark to receive IUSS Richard Webster Medal

The Pedometrics Committee on Prizes and Awards is pleased to announce the award of the Richard Webster Medal 2014 of the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS), to be awarded at the 21st World Congress of Soil Science (WCSS) in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) in August 2018. This medal recognizes the person who has most advanced pedometrics in the period between the IUSS WCSS of 2014 and 2018, while also considering achievements prior to that period.

The Medal is awarded to Professor Richard Murray Lark, chair in Geoinformatics at the University of Nottingham (UK). Professor Lark is internationally recognized as an outstanding pedometrician. He has devoted most of his professional career to elucidating the complexity of soil distribution in the landscape and to describing it quantitatively. He has applied advanced statistical techniques and developed new ones for the purpose and to map the soil’s properties for land management.

[By David G Rossiter, Chair Pedometrics Committee on Prizes and Awards for 2014-2017]

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Hidenori Wada (1928 – 2018)

It is with deep sadness that I inform you that Dr Hidenori Wada passed away August 7, 2018, 90 years old. He was Professor of Soil Science, at the University of Tokyo, and first Chairman of the Paddy Soil Working Group, ISSS (IUSS) when it was established in 1990. He was also President of the Japanese Society of Soil Microbiology as well as being a keen soil micro-morphologist since he studied in Belgium. After retiring from the University of Tokyo, he was a JICA expert to stay in Khon Kaen, Thailand, to help develop countermeasures to the soil salinity problem there.

We all miss Dr Hidenori Wada contributing to soil science, his smiles and warm thoughts. Recalling the many fond memories of the past, we pray that his soul may rest in peace.

[By Kazuyuki INUBUSHI, chair of IUSS Division 2]

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General News

Launch of the Brazilian-Portuguese version of the Soil Atlas of Latin America and the Caribbean – Atlas de solos da AMÉRICA LATINA e do CARIBE

The European Commission—Joint Research Centre (JRC) launched the “Atlas de solos da AMÉRICA LATINA e do CARIBE” during the 21st world Congress of Soil Science (21WCSS) in Rio, Brazil. The launch event took place in collaboration with FAO at the beginning of the conference. Around 2,000 printed copies were distributed during the conference.

Read more: https://esdac.jrc.ec.europa.eu/content/soil-atlas-latin-america

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Predicting soil organic carbon in agroecosystems under climate change

Soil organic carbon is an important component of soil health in agroecosystems. It can affect crop yields and also serves as a carbon sink. However, changes in climate will likely alter soil organic carbon dynamics. Understanding this relationship between changes in climate and soil organic carbon is important for soil scientists, agronomists, crop breeders, and farmers. An upcoming issue of the Journal of Environmental Quality (JEQ) will include a special section on this topic. The impacts of future changes in temperature and precipitation patterns on agricultural production are unknown, so there is a need to find the best agriculture management practices to maintain or increase soil organic carbon to improve agroecosystem resiliency against extreme weather.

Read more: https://dl.sciencesocieties.org/content/Predicting-Soil-Organic-Carbon-Agroecosystems-under-Climate-Change

[From: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Science Policy Report, 8 August, 2018]

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This city’s buried treasure isn’t under the dirt. It is the dirt.

While air pollution and spoiled waterways are the most visibly threatened environmental resources, the soils that lie beneath our feet have lately been receiving some long overdue attention as well — especially in the New York metropolitan area, which scientists say sits on top of some of the best soil on the continent. Degraded soils are a big concern in New York, where lead contamination levels can be high. For much of the 20th century, soil excavated at construction sites was regarded as toxic waste and sent for disposal outside the city. But dirt, suddenly, is somewhat glamorous and New York City has been leading this reassessment.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/25/nyregion/the-citys-buried-treasure-isnt-under-the-dirt-it-is-the-dirt.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

[From: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Science Policy Report, 8 August, 2018]

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The soil science imperative

Any thriving natural or agricultural ecosystem begins with soil. And how we choose to manage soil impacts not just the amount and quality of food we produce, but whether we exacerbate or mitigate climate change, and the health of the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems on which life depends. The last few years have seen a growing recognition of the importance of soil—from movements to expand small-scale farming, to global efforts to improve soil in industrial agriculture, to strategies to boost the role of soil in mitigating climate change. Soil science can be a driving force for achieving sustainable development when it responds directly to the needs of practitioners and decision-makers from local to national and global scales.

Read more: https://global.nature.org/content/the-soil-science-imperative?utm_campaign=social.nature&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_content=1533154405

[From: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Science Policy Report, 8 August, 2018]

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Biodegradation of synthetic polymers in soils: Tracking carbon into CO2 and microbial biomass

Plastic materials are widely used in agricultural applications to achieve food security for the growing world population. The use of biodegradable instead of non-biodegradable polymers in single-use agricultural applications, including plastic mulching, promises to reduce plastic accumulation in the environment. We present a novel approach that allows tracking of carbon from biodegradable polymers into CO2 and microbial biomass. The approach is based on 13C-labeled polymers and on isotope-specific analytical methods, including nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry (NanoSIMS). Our results unequivocally demonstrate the biodegradability of poly(butylene adipate-co-terephthalate) (PBAT), an important polyester used in agriculture, in soil. Carbon from each monomer unit of PBAT was used by soil microorganisms, including filamentous fungi, to gain energy and to form biomass. This work advances both our conceptual understanding of polymer biodegradation and the methodological capabilities to assess this process in natural and engineered environments.

Read more: http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/4/7/eaas9024

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Understanding soil through its microbiome – First global survey of soil genomics reveals a war between fungi and bacteria

Soil is full of life, essential for nutrient cycling and carbon storage. To better understand how it functions, an international research team led by EMBL and the University of Tartu (Estonia) conducted the first global study of bacteria and fungi in soil. Their results show that bacteria and fungi are in constant competition for nutrients and produce an arsenal of antibiotics to gain an advantage over one another. The study can also help predict the impact of climate change on soil, and help us make better use of natural soil components in agriculture. Nature published the results on 1 August 2018.

Read more: https://news.embl.de/science/understanding-soil-through-its-microbiome/

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Manure slipping through (soil) cracks

Excess nutrients from farms can be transported to groundwater reservoirs by water starting at the surface and flowing through soil. But the flow of water through soil is a “highly dynamic process,” says Genevieve Ali, a researcher at the University of Manitoba. “It can vary from year to year, season to season, or even rainstorm to rainstorm.” It can also fluctuate depending on soil type and even if organic additions, like manure, are applied. Ali is lead author of a new study that shows water infiltrates deeper into cracking clay (vertisolic soils) when liquid hog manure is applied. The study also showed that even though water infiltration went deeper in the presence of manure, it did not reach depths of 39 inches (100 cm). That’s how deep tile drains—designed to remove excess subsurface water—are typically installed in the study region.

Read more: https://www.soils.org/discover-soils/story/manure-slipping-soil-cracks

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ESB Earthworm Identikit

The Earthworm Society of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (ESB) aims to promote and support scientific research so that earthworms and their environment can be better understood. Through its work the society aims to encourage the conservation of earthworms and their habitats. The ESB Earthworm Identikit provides five identification tools. The first is a multi-access key tailored specifically for UK earthworms. The second is also a multi-access key, but it emphasises different features and photographs are also accessible from this key. The third – the Circle Pack Key – allows you to explore the distribution of morphological features across different earthworm genera. The fourth – a side by side comparison tool – allows you to directly compare features from two or more different species of earthworms and also to compare photographs where they exist.

http://www.earthwormsoc.org.uk/fullscreen/earthwormkey

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Conferences, Meetings and Workshops

2019

SUITMA 10 – Soils of Urban, Industrial, Traffic, Mining and Military Areas

June 16-21, 2019, Seoul, Korea. On behalf of the organizing committee, it is our great pleasure to invite you to the 10th conference of the IUSS Working Group on Soils of Urban, Industrial, Traffic, Mining and Military Areas (SUITMA10). The theme of SUITMA10 is SUITMA+20; visioning the future by reflecting on 20 years of SUITMA since its birth in 1998. SUITMA has progressed significantly. Sincere enthusiasm in sharing knowledge with its membership family is the ongoing legacy from its founding fathers. Understanding the properties, functioning, impacts and long-term evolution of soils from major human influences has given insights to the role of anthropogenic change whilst enabling improved management of urban ecosystems.

Abstract submission deadline: January 31, 2019

Read more: http://www.suitma10.org

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Wageningen Soil Conference 2019 – Understanding soil functions

August 27 – 30, 2019, Wageningen, the Netherlands. Wageningen University & Research is delighted to invite you to join us at the fourth edition of the Wageningen Soil Conference. As in previous editions, the aim is to discuss the importance of soils. In the 2019 edition, the focus will be on “Understanding soil functions: from ped to planet”. To do this we will adopt a new style of conference, with traditional conference talks in the mornings, followed by a range of scientific and interactive topic workshops in the afternoons.

Website: https://www.wur.nl/en/Research-Results/Projects-and-programmes/Wageningen-Soil-Conference-2019.htm

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New publications

World Atlas of Desertification – Rethinking land degradation and sustainable land management

Publication by Joint Research Centre (European Commission), August 8, 2018. 256 pages, A3 format, ISBN 978-92-79-75350-3 (Printed version), ISBN 978-92-79-75349-7 (Online version), price: for free.

The third edition of the World Atlas of Desertification (WAD3) takes a fresh look at land degradation – a phenomenon triggered by human land use that is likely to threaten our ability to make productive use of the Earth while still maintaining the critical global environmental goods and services in the future. WAD3 offers an information framework from which to identify the nature of potential problems and pursue solutions that conform to local conditions. The two decades since publication of WAD2 saw a tremendous growth in our understanding of coupled-human and natural systems, and an overwhelming increase in global environmental datasets and analytical tools. Building on these advances, WAD3 portrays the dynamic human footprint on Earth and its consequences for the land resources. WAD3 identifies areas of concern where multiple lines of evidence converge that suggest potential problems so that they might be confirmed and suggest actions to reverse, arrest, or adapt to them.

You can order the printed atlas from the EU Bookshop https://publications.europa.eu/en/web/general-publications/publications
or download the atlas here: https://wad.jrc.ec.europa.eu/

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Soil and Climate

Edited by Rattan Lal and B. A. Stewart. 1st Edition published in the series Advances in Soil Science, August 30, 2018 by CRC Press. 434 Pages – 86 B/W Illustrations, ISBN 9781498783651, price hardback GBP 145.00, ebook GBP 35.99.
Climate is a soil-forming factor and soil can mitigate climate change through a reduction in the emissions of greenhouse gases and sequestration of atmospheric CO2. Thus, there is a growing interest in soil management practices capable of mitigating climate change and enhancing environmental quality. Soil and Climate addresses global issues through soil management and outlines strategies for advancing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Special topics on soil as a source or sink of CO2, silicate weathering and carbon sequestration, nutrients required for carbon sequestration, physical protection and the mean resident time, and predicting soil carbon stocks are discussed in detail throughout the book.

Read more: https://www.crcpress.com/Soil-and-Climate/Lal-Stewart/p/book/9781498783651

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