Update: 16.11.2017

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 147 (September 2017)


IUSS News

News from the IUSS Website

The latest IUSS Fact sheets Soil degradation and desertification, written by IUSS Past President, Prof. Rainer Horn, and on Soil and Health by Ganga M. Hettiarachchi, Chair of IUSS Commission 4.2 Soils, Food Security, and Human Health, were uploaded to the IUSS Website.

Read more: http://iuss.boku.ac.at/index.php?article_id=647

The most recent Viewpoint on “The ecological costs of soil management practices” by Rattan Lal, President of the International Union of Soil Sciences is now available on the IUSS website.

Read more: http://iuss.boku.ac.at/index.php?article_id=636

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First call for contributions for the IUSS Bulletin 131

The IUSS Secretariat (iuss@umweltbundesamt.at) will soon start compiling IUSS Bulletin 131 (to be published in December) and therefore invites all IUSS members to submit their contributions at their earliest convenience, but no later than 15 November 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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Soils: The Foundation of Life Workshop proceedings in brief is online

Soils: The Foundation of Life Workshop proceedings-in-brief, which summarizes the workshop held at the US National Academy of Sciences in December 2016, is now online for free downloads.
Please visit https://www.nap.edu/catalog/24866/soils-the-foundation-of-life-proceedings-of-a-workshop-in or the website of the U.S. National Committee for Soils at http://sites.nationalacademies.org/PGA/biso/SS/index.htm to download your own electronic copy free of charge.

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General News

Glinka World Soil Prize 2017

The Glinka World Soil Prize honours individuals and organizations whose leadership and activities have contributed, or are still contributing to the promotion of sustainable soil management and the protection of soil resources. The Glinka Prize is a an annual award for dynamic change-makers dedicated to solving one of our world’s most pressing environmental issue: Soil Degradation. Deadline for applications: 30 September 2017

Read more: http://www.fao.org/global-soil-partnership/pillars-action/2-awareness-raising/glinka-world-soil-prize/en/

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A new way to test soil health

Experiment in soil biology has farmers burying jockey shorts in April and unearthing them in July.

Read more: https://www.soils.org/science-policy/sspr/2017-09-06/#5229
(From US Science Policy Report, 6 September 2017)

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Are fertilizers punishing our soils?

USDA ARS researcher Rick Haney gives an interview with Yale Environment 360 on the benefits of healthy soils and the folly of pursuing ever-greater crop yields using fertilizers and other chemicals.

Read more: http://e360.yale.edu/features/why-its-time-to-stop-punishing-our-soils-with-fertilizers-and-chemicals
(From US Science Policy Report, 6 September 2017)

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Can American soil be brought back to life?

A new idea: If we revive the tiny creatures that make dirt healthy, we can bring back the great American topsoil. But farming culture — and government — aren’t making it easy.
Reed more: http://www.politico.com/agenda/story/2017/09/13/soil-health-agriculture-trend-usda-000513
(By Jenny Hopkinson, Politico, 13 September 2017)

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Sharing soil knowledge in the 21st Century

By better sharing of soil knowledge between people over a sustained period, we can improve soil condition and function, and improve soil management. Soil scientists and practitioners often work independently of each other, with limited opportunity to learn from each other and share their soil knowledge. At the same time, there is a loss of people with a depth of experience, expertise and local knowledge of soil. Yet we have thought little about how we will capture their knowledge and experience and use it to inform and support the next generation. In a paper recently published in Soil Science Society of America Journal, soil educators and extension agents concluded we must value, capture and share the experience and expertise of scientists and practitioners equally, including: farmers, scientists, educators, extension staff, commercial sector and the public.

https://dl.sciencesocieties.org/publications/sssaj/pdfs/81/3/427
(From US Science Policy Report, 20 September 2017)

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Organic farming traps carbon in soil to combat climate change

Organic farms were found to have 26 percent more long-term carbon storage potential than conventional farms. When it comes to mitigating the worst impacts of climate change, keeping excess carbon out of the atmosphere is the prime target for improving the health of our planet. One of the best ways to do that is thought to be locking more of that carbon into the soil that grows our food.

Read more: http://civileats.com/2017/09/11/new-study-shows-organic-farming-traps-carbon-in-soil-to-combat-climate-change/?org=1364&lvl=100&ite=172&lea=143036&ctr=0&par=1&trk=
(From US Science Policy Report, 20 September 2017)

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First-ever global erosivity map shows areas most vulnerable to erosion

Understanding erosion is important in quantifying the loss of topsoil for agriculture, as well as the contamination of food and water by sediments. However, erosion is a very complex process. It depends on many factors, including climate, soil type, and vegetation cover. A new map, published in an open-access paper, tries to quantify how much energy is available to erode the land surface on a given spot globally.
Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidbressan/2017/08/18/how-many-continents-are-there/#efe36866732f
(From US Science Policy Report, 6 September 2017)

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3D Soil Hydraulic Database of Europe at 1 km and 250 m resolution

A consistent spatial soil hydraulic database at 7 soil depths up to 2 m has been calculated for Europe based on SoilGrids250m and various 1 km datasets, and pedotransfer functions trained on the European Hydropedological Data Inventory. Saturated water content, water content at field capacity and wilting point, saturated hydraulic conductivity and Mualem-van Genuchten parameters for the description of the moisture retention, and unsaturated hydraulic conductivity curves have been predicted. The derived 3D soil hydraulic layers can be used for environmental modelling purposes at catchment or continental scale in Europe. It is the only EU provides information on the most frequently required soil hydraulic properties with full European coverage up to 2 m depth at 250 m resolution.

Read more: https://esdac.jrc.ec.europa.eu/content/3d-soil-hydraulic-database-europe-1-km-and-250-m-resolution
(From European Soil Data Centre Newsletter No. 103, July-August 2017)

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ESDAC Map Viewer

The ESDAC Map Viewer allows the user to navigate key soil data for Europe. It provides access to the attributes of the European Soil Database and some additional data related to main soil threats as identified in the Soil Thematic Strategy. The ESDAC Map Viewer is developed according to standards (OGC WMS) so that they are interoperable with similar information allowing real-time integration of environmental data from around the world. The Viewer integrates the European Soil Database layers and some other soil layers in one single web-based application. You may navigate and select each of the 70 layers derived from the European Soil Database and other soil threats layers.

Read more: https://esdac.jrc.ec.europa.eu/viewer
(From European Soil Data Centre Newsletter No. 103, July-August 2017)

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How human waste is helping Aussie farmers get the best out of their land

About 180,000 tonnes of biosolids are generated from Sydney’s sewage each year, but authorities are having no troubles with getting rid of it. Biosolids, which is a by-product of the sewerage treatment process, is proving a hit with New South Wales farmers who want to improve soil health and boost yields. Harvested from 23 of Sydney’s sewerage plants, the waste is processed through reactors which also create renewable energy that is fed back into the system.

Read more: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-09/farmers-using-human-poo-to-improve-their-production/8887512?sf112663276=1

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How 12,000 tonnes of dumped orange peel grew into a landscape nobody expected to find

An experimental conservation project that was abandoned and almost forgotten about has ended up producing an amazing ecological win nearly two decades after it was dreamt up. The plan, which saw a juice company dump 1,000 truckloads of waste orange peel in a barren pasture in Costa Rica back in the mid 1990s, has eventually revitalised the desolate site into a thriving, lush forest.

Read more: http://www.sciencealert.com/how-12-000-tonnes-of-dumped-orange-peel-produced-something-nobody-imagined

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The outsized role of soil microbes

Three scientists have proposed a new approach to better understand the role of soil organic matter in long-term carbon storage and its response to changes in global climate and atmospheric chemistry.

Read more: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170829091049.htm

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Conferences, Meetings and Workshops

2018

TERRA ENVISION Conference.

Barcelona, 29 January—1 February, 2018. This conference aims to focus on the scientific research towards finding solutions for the societal issues of our time. TERRAENVISION promotes interdisciplinary collaboration and networking. By bringing the people and their knowledge together, we may be able to take the steps towards solutions that can bring our society to a more sustainable situation. In this conference we want to link to International policies such as the sustainable Development Goals, the UN Climate conventions, CAP and COP. Issues proposed for the conference: Climate change, Water Resources, Land degradation and restoration, Erosion processes, Fire in the earth system, Ecosystem services and nature conservation, Science interface: with policy and public. Abstract submission is open.

Read more: http://terra-envision.weebly.com/

BonaRes2018 Conference: Soil as a sustainable resource

Berlin, Germany, 26-28 February, 2018.
The conference brings together researchers from all disciplines of soil science to discuss the functionality of soil ecosystems and how to develop strategies towards sustainable soil management. A sustainable bioeconomy requires integration of soil productivity with a wide range of other soil functions including nutrient cycling, carbon storage, water retention and filtering as well as being the habitat of a myriad of organisms and their activities. For sustainable soil management, we need to understand soils at a systemic level and to assess their value in a socio-economic framework. Abstract submission deadline: November 1st, 2017

Read more: http://www.bonares2018.de/index.html

5th European Conference on Permafrost (EUCOP 2018)

Chamonix-Mont Blanc, France; 23 June – 1 July, 2018. The conference aims at covering all relevant aspects of permafrost research, engineering and outreach on a global and regional level. Abstract submission process is open already!
Read more: https://eucop2018.sciencesconf.org/

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New publications

Landscapes in transition

The EEA report ‘Landscapes in transition: an account of 25 years of land cover change in Europe,’ published on 7 September 2017, takes a closer look at the emerging trends over the last two and a half decades in land use and their environmental impacts. The dominant trend is the continued and accelerating shift from rural to urban use, influenced mostly by economic activities and urban lifestyle demands — such as high mobility and consumption patterns.

Read more: https://www.eea.europa.eu/highlights/unsustainable-land-use-threatens-european-landscapes?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Landscapes%20in%20transition&utm_content=Landscapes%20in%20transition+CID_b6c7faec82d941e84a93a47944b0e9a1&utm_source=EEA%20Newsletter&utm_term=Read%20more

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Spoil to Soil: Mine Site Rehabilitation and Revegetation

Edited by N.S. Bolan, M.B. Kirkham and Y.S. Ok. Published 7 September 2017 by Routledge, 371 pages, 50 B/W Illus., Hardback ISBN: 9781498767613, price £140.00.
The remediation of mine spoil is a global environmental issue affecting most nations. This book covers both the fundamental and practical aspects of remediation and revegetation of mine site spoils. It follows three major themes including characterisation of mine site spoils; remediation of chemical, physical, and biological constraints of mine site spoils; and revegetation of remediated mine site spoils. Each theme contains chapters featuring case studies involving mine sites around the world. The book provides a complete narrative of how inert spoil could be converted to live soil.

Read more: https://www.routledge.com/Spoil-to-Soil-Mine-Site-Rehabilitation-and-Revegetation/Bolan-Kirkham-Ok/p/book/9781498767613

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Assessment, Restoration and Reclamation of Mining Influenced Soils

By Jaume Bech, Claudia Bini and Mariya Pashkevich (Editors). 1st edition published 12 September 2017 by Elsevier, imprint Academic Press, 520 pages, Paperback ISBN: 9780128095881, price paperback EUR 147.66.
This tome covers processes operating in the environment as a result of mining activity, including the whole spectra of negative effects of anthropopressure and the environment, from changes in soil chemistry, changes in soil physical properties, geomechanical disturbances, and mine water discharges. Mining activity and its waste are an environmental concern. Knowledge of the fate of potentially harmful elements and their effect on plants and the food chain, and ultimately on human health, is still being understood. Therefore, there is a need for better knowledge on the origin, distribution, and management of mine waste on a global level.

Read more: https://www.elsevier.com/books/assessment-restoration-and-reclamation-of-mining-influenced-soils/bech/978-0-12-809588-1

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Soils of Malaysia

Edited by Muhammad Aqeel Ashraf, Radziah Othman, Che Fauziah Ishak. Published 20 September 2017 by Routledge, 214 pages, 53 colour illustrations, 14 B/W illustrations, Hardback ISBN: 9781138197695, price hardcover GBP 108.00.
There are approximately 500 different types of soils in Malaysia, most is residual soil and coastal alluvial soil. It covers topics including climate; flora and fauna; geology and hydrology; land use changes for agriculture; soil fertility; human-induced soil degradation; and soil contamination sources.

Read more: https://www.routledge.com/Soils-of-Malaysia/Ashraf-Othman-Ishak/p/book/9781138197695

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Biofilms in Plant and Soil Health

Edited by Iqbal Ahmad and Fohad Mabood. Published in September 2017 by Wiley-Blackwell, 568 pages, ISBN: 978-1-119-24634-3, price hardcover: £160.00/€192.00.
Biofilms are predominant mode of life for microbes under natural conditions. The three-dimensional structure of the biofilm provides enhanced protection from physical, chemical and biological stress conditions to associated microbial communities. These complex and highly structured microbial communities play a vital role in maintaining the health of plants, soils and waters. Biofilm associated with plants may be pathogenic or beneficial based on the nature of their interactions. Pathogenic or undesirable biofilm requires control in many situations, including soil, plants, food and water.

Read more: http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1119246342.html

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Can Soil be brought back to Life?

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“Can American soil be brought back to life?” This is the question posed in Politico (Sept 13th). The challenges are the same everywhere in the world: over-tilled soil, too much bare soil within crops and between growing seasons, disturbing changes in weather patterns, over-fertilization linked to nitrate pollution in surface and groundwater. “The UN considers soil degradation one of the central threats to human health in coming decades”, writes the author. Human health and soil health seem to go hand in hand. New farming practices such as No-Till which build soil are being introduced and older practices such as cover-cropping and green-manuring are coming back to life.

How to measure and quantify biological soil processes which influence productivity and sustainability has been Woods End Laboratories (Maine, USA) focus for 30 years. The lab believes that measuring soil’s biological activity can provide valuable insight into how soil management practices may be adversely or favorably influencing sustainable productivity, beyond that which is accounted for by nutrient replacement. Well-managed soils which include those with soil-building crop rotations, cover-cropping and reduced-tillage can accumulate natural reserves, such as microbial-biomass and organic-nitrogen, “pools” that support dynamic soil functions, nutrient bio-availability and natural disease suppression. Typical soil tests are not designed to reveal these traits.
Woods End Lab has introduced several new test methods that complement ordinary nutrient tests which enable labs and farmers to evaluate these added factors. One goal is to establish a biological baseline for soil from which one can monitor and optimize management. One important outcome is the potential to reduce the quantity of fertilizer inputs – especially nitrogen. Woods End Lab’s new tests are found in the Solvita line of protocols and include: CO2 respiration (a measure of microbial activity), SLAN (a measure of labile amino-N associated with humus) and VAST (as rapid test for volumetric aggregate stability). Numerous research projects and published papers have demonstrated the utility of these tests. Solvita is committed to helping soil laboratories worldwide introduce new, cost-effective tests to aid growers and crop consultants enhance their management. See more at http://solvita.com/soil or contact Will Brinton.

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Soil Moisture and Temperature Measurement Sensor

The ML3 ThetaProbe delivers exceptional accuracy and durability

  • Soil moisture ± 1% accuracy
  • Built-in temperature sensor
  • Simple logger or meter connection
  • Buriable – IP68

The ML3 ThetaProbe’s class leading ± 1% accuracy, stability, build quality and reliability have made it the preferred choice of thousands of researchers worldwide.

The ML3 is easy to use. Simply insert the probe into the soil, connect to a data logger or meter, and within seconds you can be accurately measuring soil moisture. A built-in thermistor enables the ML3 to simultaneously measure soil temperature and soil moisture at depth (probe must be fully buried).

The salinity response of the ML3 has been characterised at EC values up to 2000 mS.m-1. It also has a wide operating temperature range, with tests demonstrating that the ML3 can operate down to -40°C. ML3 cables and connectors are extendable, buriable and environmentally protected to IP68.
Read more: https://www.delta-t.co.uk/product/ml3/

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