Update: 19.02.2017

Soil stores 10% of the world's carbon dioxide emissions.

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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 139 (January 2017)


IUSS News

Election IUSS Division and Commission Officers 2018-2022

We have started the election process for the 4 Division and 44 Commission chairs and vice chairs. This is your chance to become actively involved in the IUSS and shape its future in the years 2018 to 2022. We are now seeking nominations for all positions, and a description of the Divisions is given here: http://www.iuss.org/index.php?article_id=40.

Please send in your application before 31st March 2017. Your application should include the position, a 100 words biography and homepage URL, if available. It should be sent to:

The timeline is as follows:
31 March 2017 – call for nominations ends
2 May 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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IUSS Distinguished Service Award for French Minister Le Foll

On 6 January 2017 the event “Soil and Climate Change: the 4p1000 initiative” was organized by IUSS and INRA in honour of HE Hon’ble Stephane Le Foll, the Minister of Agriculture and Food of the Republic of France. The scientific seminar addressed a very pertinent theme of soil carbon sequestration which is in accord with the “4 per Thousand” Initiative conceptualized and promoted by the Minister.

The International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) has thus far presented the Distinguished Service Medal to two prominent world citizens and policy makers. The first medal was awarded to HRH the late King of Thailand Bhumibol Adulyadej in 2002. The second medal was presented to HE Hon’ble Stéphan Le Foll for promoting soil science on the global agenda through COP21, and making soil and agriculture integral solutions to climate change and advancing food security. By so doing, HE Mr. Stéphane Le Foll effectively translated the scientific information of soil science into a global action programme. By implementing the “4 per Thousand” programme, Mr. Le Foll has enhanced the awareness of the importance of soil and its management for addressing the global issues of the 21st century. IUSS shall be pleased to work with him and the other members of the scientific team involved in implementing the “4 per Thousand” Initiative and support it globally.

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Mirek Kutilek (1927 – 2017)

The very well-known and famous professor, scientist and teacher Professor Dr. Miroslav (Mirek) Kutílek passed away on 4 October, 2016. He spent most of his student and working life at the Faculty of Civil Engineering, Czech Technical University in Prague (CTU), Czech Republic. Mirek was appointed full Professor of soil physics and soil hydrology at CTU and he was also active at many different institutions all over the world. Additionally, he worked as an editor-in-chief of international scientific journals such as Soil Technology (1990-1991) and Soil and Tillage Research (1992-2013). He was president of the soil physics section of the International Soil Science Society (1986-1990) and in 1998 he became an honorary member of this society, now called IUSS.

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Translation of the Vienna Soil Declaration into German

As one of the outreach activities during the International Decade of Soils (2015-2024) the IUSS Secretariat has translated the Vienna Soil Declaration into German. The declaration was adopted at the Celebration event of the International Year of Soils in December 2015. It can be downloaded from the IUSS website.

Download Vienna Soil Declaration in German: http://www.iuss.org/index.php?article_id=588

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Reminder: CONSOWA 2017 – Request for contributions to Session 2, dedicated to the International Decade of Soils (2015-2024)

During the 1st World Conference on Soil and Water Conservation under Global Change (CONSOWA 2017), 12-16 June 2017, Lleida, Spain, the Discussion Session 2, dedicated to the International Decade of Soils (2015-2024) proclaimed by IUSS, will focus on analysis and setting the challenges and required achievements in the next decade, to prevent and counteract the previewed effects of global changes on soil and water degradation processes, and effects on food and water supply for the increasing World population, on the environmental degradation and on natural disasters.

Potential authors are kindly requested to submit their contributions, namely about two pages each (present situation, and recommendations for the future) with their ideas before 31 January 2017 to Ildefons Pla Sentis at ipla@macs.udl.cat. A draft document, including the different proposals, will be sent for further corrections to all contributors and reproduced to be distributed before the Conference, as a document for discussion. Contributions will be included in the final document to be published as part of the conclusions and recommendations of CONSOWA2017.

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General News

Soil carbon 4 per mille

The ‘4 per mille Soils for Food Security and Climate’ was launched at the COP21 with an aspiration to increase global soil organic matter stocks by 4 per 1000 (or 0.4 %) per year as a compensation for the global emissions of greenhouse gases by anthropogenic sources. Reported soil C sequestration rates globally show that under best management practices, 4 per mille or even higher sequestration rates can be accomplished. High C sequestration rates (up to 10 per mille) can be achieved for soils with low initial SOC stock (topsoil less than 30 t C ha− 1), and at the first twenty years after implementation of best management practices.

Read more: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016706117300095

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Soil carbon capture: Great loamy hope or bandaid?

Recently Michael Barnard was challenged to assess the likely capacity of soil carbon sequestration approaches (sometimes referred to as biological carbon capture and sequestration or BCCS) by a researcher in the space. The premise was that two thirds of the carbon which had been sequestered in the soil had been lost into the atmosphere as grasslands were converted to large-scale agriculture, and that changing agricultural practices would be sufficient to act as a sink for the majority of excess CO2 emitted. What exactly is the mechanism? How much potential does BCCS offer? How much effort would be required to implement a large scale fix? There have been some interesting findings in plant biology in the past two decades, specifically concerning something called glomalin.

Read more: http://reneweconomy.com.au/soil-carbon-capture-great-loamy-hope-bandaid-47154/

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Global agriculture trends: are we actually using less land?

Slash and burn agriculture. Palm oil plantations. Deforestation in the Amazon. The environmental news about the natural habitat being converted to agriculture has been pretty grim. When you consider that we will need 70% more food by 2050 (assuming that we don’t make serious progress in reducing waste, slowing population growth, or halting the increase in consumption of animal products, FAO 2011) it’s hard to feel hopeful about the future. Without improving yields, that 70% increase in food would require over 34,000,000 km2 of new farmland and ranches to be created, an area larger than the entire continent of Africa. That’s why I was surprised to find what appears to be good news lurking in global data.

Read more: http://blog.nature.org/science/2014/06/18/global-agriculture-land-sustainability-deforestation-foodsecurity/#comment-1211560

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Soil Biomass Productivity maps of grasslands and pasture, of croplands and of forest areas in EU

This dataset consists of 3 GIS maps that indicate the soil biomass productivity of grasslands and pasture, of croplands and of forest areas in the European Union (EU27). The degree to which the soil carries out its biomass production service was evaluated on the basis of soil properties under prevailing climatic and topographical conditions. Since productivity is a result of the interaction of soil, climatic, and topographical conditions, these factors need to be assessed in their complexity. In addition to geophysical conditions, soil productivity also depends on the type of land use. Results are presented in land use–specific maps (e.g. cropland productivity for areas of rain-fed arable lands, forest biomass productivity for forest lands and grassland productivity for pastures).

Read more: http://esdac.jrc.ec.europa.eu/content/soil-biomass-productivity-maps-grasslands-and-pasture-coplands-and-forest-areas-european

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Deriving effective soil water retention characteristics from shallow water table fluctuations in peatlands

Peatlands are important storage locations for soil carbon and sinks for carbon dioxide. Peat is a type of soil that is primarily composed of partially decomposed plant residuals that exists in an oxygen-deficit environment. It’s the primary component of most wetlands of the world and thus holds an important place in water resources and hydrology. The soil moisture content of the peat soil determines the storage, transport, and release of carbon dioxide, and as a result, the soil hydraulic properties are very important in any climate change studies. Authors of an article recently published in Vadose Zone Journal use a statistical inversion to determine the soil water retention characteristics using the assumptions of hydrostatic equilibrium and the fact that the lateral fluxes during precipitation are minor compared with the vertical fluxes during precipitation events

Read more: https://dl.sciencesocieties.org/publications/vzj/abstracts/15/10/vzj2016.04.0029

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Predicting power outages from soil moisture data

Most electrical outages are caused by falling trees or limbs bringing down power lines. After a major storm, it may take weeks to fully restore power. Through combining analysis of wind and soil moisture data, scientists are getting better at predicting where and when such damages are likely to occur, which gives utility companies and emergency workers a head start on hurricane response.

Read more: https://gcn.com/blogs/emerging-tech/2016/12/soil-moisture-power-outage.aspx

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Study tracks 'memory' of soil moisture

First year of data from SMAP satellite provides new insights for weather, agriculture, and climate. The top two inches of topsoil on all of Earth’s landmasses contains an infinitesimal fraction of the planet’s water — less than one-thousandth of a percent. Yet because of its position at the interface between the land and the atmosphere, that tiny amount plays a crucial role in everything from agriculture to weather and climate, and even the spread of disease.

Read more: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170116121807.htm

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New Tool Instantly Creates Soil Maps at Planting

A cobalt exterior combines the traditional seed-packing role of a seed farmer with an optical sensor protected by a sapphire lens that scans what’s going on 2” below the soil surface. An enhanced look below the soil will allow farmers to automate seeding rate and placement and manually adjust row cleaners to achieve the optimal seed environment. “Growers who use this will automatically know their percent of organic matter, residue content and percent moisture,” says Cory Muhlbauer, Precision Planting agronomy lead.

Read more: http://www.agweb.com/article/new-tool-instantly-creates-soil-maps-at-planting-naa-sonja-begemann/

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A space station experiment is researching how soils on asteroids or planets may interact with future spacecraft and spacesuit materials

Strata-1 is designed to investigate fundamental properties of regolith on small airless bodies. The Strata-1 facility features multiple transparent tubes that are partially filled with regolith simulants which are exposed to extended microgravity and the ambient vibration environment on ISS. Simulant materials for Strata-1 include pulverized meteorite material of known size distribution, glass beads of known size distribution, regolith simulants composed of terrestrial materials, and other similar materials selected to either answer specific scientific questions and/or for their fidelity to regolith that astronauts and/or hardware encounter on upcoming NASA missions. All tubes include the capability to prevent movement of the regolith during launch and landing, using a device inside each tube that lightly compresses the regolith and prevents motion. Future Strata experiments may include tests of anchors in regolith under microgravity, tests to quantify adhesion of silicate and carbonaceous regolith to spacesuit and spaceflight hardware, and cohesion properties of diffuse regolith.

Read more: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/2146.html

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Call for nominations for the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Land for Life Award

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Secretariat is currently inviting partners, governmental organizations and civil society organizations to nominate candidate(s) for the UNCCD Land for Life Award 2017. The Land for Life Award recognizes excellence and innovation of individuals or organizations who have made outstanding contributions towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 15 “Life on Land”, in particular Target 15.3 “Land Degradation Neutrality”.
Under the theme” Land and Human Security”, the 2017 Award will give spotlights to those whose work has tremendously contributing to stability and security of communities suffered from the impacts of land degradation and desertification.

The deadline of nomination submission is 28 February 2017. Nominators are required to filled in the nomination form, briefly describe the candidate(s) works, and provide the rationale for nominating the candidate. Please return the completed form to jchoo@unccd.int. The Candidates Selection Criteria and Template of Nomination are as attached.

Read more: http://www.unccd.int/en/programmes/Event-and-campaigns/LandForLife/Pages/2017-Land-for-Life-Award.aspx

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JRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership

The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is offering a new Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (CDP) scheme to higher education institutions to benefit from a strategic, win-win collaboration with the JRC. The scheme will allow universities to gain a better understanding of research needs throughout the policy cycle while at the same time providing the JRC with innovative research input and exchange of information with leading academic institutions in the field. The call for expression of interest to participate in the CDP pilot is open and the application deadline is 15 March 2017. Soil and land use change is one of the six thematic fields proposed for this scheme.

Read more: http://esdac.jrc.ec.europa.eu/content/collaborative-doctoral-partnerships

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One Million People 4 Soil

Each passing minute, our soil is assaulted, suffocated, contaminated, exploited, poisoned, mistreated, and depleted. Check out this amazing video and sign the European petition on https://www.people4soil.eu/en.

Watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCMknN-PBok

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Conferences, Meetings and Workshops

GSOC17 – Global Symposium on Soil Organic Carbon

Rome, Italy, 21-23 March 2017. The Global Soil Partnership’s (GSP) Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS), supported by FAO, in collaboration with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Science-Policy Interface of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD-SPI), and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) are pleased to announce that the Global Symposium on Soil Organic Carbon (GSOC17) will be held at FAO Headquarters in Rome.
The Symposium objectives are to: 1) examine the current scientific and technical understanding of the role of soil and SOC in the climate system for carbon sequestration and climate adaptation; 2) review the potential and limitations of SOC management to contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation, address land degradation and meet the Sustainable Development Goals; 3) review current knowledge on land and soil management impacts on SOC (and SOC stabilization and destabilization mechanisms), including identification of practices that increase SOC; 4) enable and strengthen the provision of knowledge on SOC measurement, modeling and management, land degradation and the interlinkages with other carbon pools to inform upcoming IPCC assessment reports and reports to initiatives addressing land degradation; 5) identify knowledge gaps and explore opportunities for collaborative research; and 6) identify policy options for relevant soil and SOC priorities to encourage the adoption of practices that enhance SOC under national climate change agendas.

The deadline for abstract submission is January 31, 2017!

Read more: http://www.fao.org/about/meetings/soil-organic-carbon-symposium/en/

17th Annual Conference of Ethiopian Society of Soil Science (ESSS)

March, 30 – 31, 2017, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Theme: Unlocking the potential of Ethiopian soils for achieving Sustainable Development Goals
Subthemes are

  • Soil degradation,
  • Soil and Water Conservation,
  • Soil Science and Climate-Smart Agriculture,
  • Soil Fertility Management and Fertilizers,
  • Economics, Policies, Governance and Institutional aspects of Soil Resource Uses and
  • Geostatistics, Pedometrics and Computer Applications in Soil Science Research.

Deadline for abstract submission: 31st January 2017

Please send your abstracts to: zenebeteferi@yahoo.com; negash34@yahoo.com; elroifky@gmail.com

9th International Congress of the Working Group on Soils of Urban, Industrial, Traffic, Mining and Military Areas, SUITMA 9

May 22-27, 2017, Moscow, Russia. This year’s theme for the congress will be «Urbanization: a challenge and an opportunity for soil functions and ecosystem services». The SUITMA 9 congress will summarize the experiences and existing methodologies in analyses, assessments, and modelling of anthropogenic effects on soils and the related ecological risks to the sustainability of soils of urban, industrial, traffic, mining and military areas (SUITMAs) and explore the potential of SUITMAs to provide key functions and ecosystem services. The scientific program will include a plenary session, 14 thematic sessions and 6 round tables, 4 one-day field tours and two post-congress tours.

Abstract submission was prolonged until February 1, 2017.

Read more: http://www.suitma-russia.com/index.php/en/

Pedometrics 2017 Conference

June 26 -July 1,2017 the 25th anniversary of Pedometrics will be celebrated in Wageningen, the Netherlands. Pedometrics is a branch of soil science dedicated to the application of mathematical and statistical methods for the study of the distribution and genesis of soils.
Abstract submissions are now open for conference topics ranging from ‘big data, data mining and machine learning for soil science’ to ‘proximal soil sensing’. We are also calling for submission of proposals for pre-conference workshops. Pedometrics 2017 is organised by the Pedometrics Commission of the International Union of Soil Science and its Working Groups: Digital Soil Mapping, Digital Soil Morphometrics, Modelling of Soil and Landscape Evolution, Proximal Soil Sensing and Soil Monitoring. It will be an excellent opportunity to present and discuss your work and learn about recent developments in quantitative soil science.

The abstract submission closes on 1st February 2017!

Read more: http://www.pedometrics2017.org/

Wageningen Soil Conference: Soil Science in a Changing World

August 27-31,2017, Wageningen, the Netherlands. Humankind is currently facing unprecedented challenges regarding food security, water resources, climate change and biodiversity. The participants of the 2015 edition of the Wageningen Soil Conference agreed that soils play a key role in confronting these challenges. In their resolution, they emphasized the important role of soil organic carbon for several soil functions, and that a professional communication strategy is needed to ensure that society benefits from soil-based solutions. In 2017, Wageningen University & Research would like to invite you to the third edition of the Wageningen Soil Conference, to continue work on identifying actions for soil-based solutions that help achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, to initiate programs that aim at a lasting increase in soil organic carbon, and to develop narratives on soil-based solutions that are convincing to policy makers and other stakeholders.

Deadline for abstract submission: 23 March 2017

Download the Second circular here: Download

Website: http://www.wur.eu/wageningensoilconference

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New publications

Engineered Nanoparticles and the Environment: Biophysicochemical Processes and Toxicity

By Baoshan Xing, Chad D. Vecitis and Nicola Senesi (editors). November 2016 by Wiley. 512 pages, ISBN: 978-1-119-27582-4, price hardcover €187.20. Also available as eBook.
This book deals with the source, release, exposure, adsorption, aggregation, bioavailability, transport, transformation, and modeling of engineered nanoparticles found in many common products and applications, covering synthesis, environmental application, detection, and characterization of engineered nanoparticles. It details the toxicity and risk assessment of engineered nanoparticles, including topics on the transport, transformation, and modelling of engineered nanoparticles; presents the latest developments and knowledge of engineered nanoparticles.

The Soils of the USA

By L.T. West, M.J. Singer, A.E. Hartemink (Eds.). Springer, 2017, XIV, 394 p., 285 illus., 203 in color. ISBN 978-3-319-41868-1, price Hardcover $179.00 |£112.00 |€ 149,99
The Soils of the USA is the first comprehensive coverage of the soils in the U.S. since 1936. Written by 46 soil scientists from across the country and richly illustrated, the book provides an overview of the distribution, properties and function of soils in the USA, including Alaska, Hawaii and its Caribbean territories. The Soils of the USA discusses the history of soil surveys and pedological research in the U.S., and offers general descriptions of the country’s climate, geology and geomorphology. For each Land Resource Region (LRR) – a geographic/ecological region of the country characterized by its own climate, geology, landscapes, soils, and agricultural practices – there is a chapter with details of the climate, geology, geomorphology, pre-settlement and current vegetation and land use, as well as the distribution and properties of major soils including their genesis, classification and management challenges. The final chapters address topics such as soils and humans, and the future challenges for soil science and soil surveys in the United States. Maps of soil distribution, pedon descriptions, profile images and tables of properties are included throughout the text.

Using R for Digital Soil Mapping

By Malone, Brendan P., Minasny, Budiman, McBratney, Alex B. Springer, Series: Progress in Soil Science, 2017, XVI, 262 p., 61 illus., 44 in colour. ISBN 978-3-319-44327-0, price hardcover 114,99 € | £86.00 | $129.00 (net prices)
This book describes and provides many detailed examples of implementing Digital Soil Mapping (DSM) using R. The work adheres to Digital Soil Mapping theory, and presents a strong focus on how to apply it. DSM exercises are also included and cover procedures for handling and manipulating soil and spatial data in R. The book also introduces the basic concepts and practices for building spatial soil prediction functions, and then ultimately producing digital soil maps.

Global Soil Security

By Field, Damien, Morgan, Cristine L., McBratney, Alex B. (Eds.), Springer, Series: Progress in Soil Science, 2017, XVIII, 469 p., 102 illus., ISBN 978-3-319-43394-3, price hardcover 149,99 € | £112.00 | $179.00 (net prices)
This book introduces the concept of soil security and its five dimensions: Capability, Capital, Condition, Connectivity and Codification. These five dimensions make it possible to understand soil’s role in delivering ecosystem services and to quantify soil resource by measuring, mapping, modeling and managing it. Each dimension refers to a specific aspect: contribution to global challenges (Capability), value of the soil (Capital), current state of the soil (Condition), how people are connected to the soil (Connectivity) and development of good policy (Codification). This book considers soil security as an integral part of meeting the ongoing challenge to maintain human health and secure our planet’s sustainability. The concept of soil security helps to achieve the need to maintain and improve the world’s soil for the purpose of producing food, fiber and freshwater, and contributing to energy and climate sustainability. At the same time it helps to maintain biodiversity and protects ecosystem goods and services.

Soil Science Working for a Living – Applications of soil science to present-day problems

By D. Dent, Y. Dmytruk (Eds.), Springer 2017, XIII, 290 p. 89 illus., 50 illus. in colour, ISBN 978-3-319-45416-0, price hardcover 162,99 € | £121.50 | $199.00 (net prices)
This book discusses gritty issues that society faces every day: food and water security, environmental services provided by farmers, almost accidentally, and taken for granted by everyone else, the capability of the land to provide our needs today and for the foreseeable future and pollution of soil, air and water. The chapters are grouped in four main themes: soil development – properties and qualities; assessment of resources and risks; soil fertility, degradation and improvement and soil contamination, monitoring and remediation. It is a selection of papers presented at the Pedodiversity in Space and Time Symposium held at Chernivtsi National University, Ukraine, 15-19 September 2015.

A Treatise of Indian and Tropical Soils

By D.K. Pal, Springer 2017, XIV, 180 p. 44 illus., 18 illus. in colour. ISBN 978-3-319-49439-5, price hardcover 149,99 € | £112.00 | $179.00 (net prices)
This book discusses how to apply the basic principles of pedology to the tropical soils of the Indian subcontinent, with an emphasis on ways to enhance crop productivity. The book showcases the research contributions on pedology, geomorphology, mineralogy, micromorphology and climate change collected from the literature on three major soil types: shrink-swell soils, red ferruginous (RF) soils and the soils that occur in the tropical environments of the Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP). It also provides insights into several aspects of five pedogenetically important soil orders like Alfisols, Mollisols, Ultisols, Vertisols and Inceptisols found in tropical Indian environments. Documenting the significance of minerals in soils and their overall influence in soil science in terms of pedology, paleopedology, polygenesis and edaphology, it provides a knowledge base that is critical when attempting to bridge the gap between food production and population growth.

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New Scientific Journal

Looking to publish your research on soil or plant nutrition? Look no further!

Soil Science and Plant Nutrition (SSPN) welcomes your submissions. Find out how you can submit by visiting the journal’s homepage here: http://bit.ly/tandfonline-SSPN

You might also be keen to know that IUSS members are entitled to an exclusive subscription price, allowing you to stay up to date with all the latest research. http://bit.ly/subscribe-sspn

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