(Sicilian farmers look) Back to the future

Wheatfield with Crows, by Van Gogh. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.
Wheatfield with Crows, by Van Gogh. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.

Sicilian farmers are returning to cultivate ancient seed. This is to recover the ancient wisdom that feed the island and Italy since ancient times. Giuseppe Li Rosi is a local farmer and one of the strongest supporters of the return to traditional agriculture. He has converted a property of 100 hectares to traditional farming and proudly guards three local seed varieties (“Timilia”, “Maiorca” and “Strazzavisazz”), keeping at least 10 hectares for each one. Continue reading

Why your scientific paper was accepted?

As one of the executive editors of Solid Earth, one of my main duties is to keep up the journal’s reputation and a high quality of published articles. For a manuscript to be considered as a candidate for publication, it is necessary to fall within the scope of the journal. But, in my opinion, it also needs to show “new science”: innovation in the methods or approaches, sound results and conclusions interesting for a wide audience (which does not need to be simply formed by specialized scientists). Continue reading

A young researcher from IRNAS-CSIC and the University of Seville awarded in the Pyro2016

Nicasio, during the award ceremony.
Nicasio, during the award ceremony.

Nicasio T. Jiménez-Morillo, PhD candidate at the University of Seville, has been awarded with the best scientific contribution presented during the XXI International Symposium on Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis (Pyro 2016).
The young researcher was awarded with the Frontier-Labs Young Scientist Award to best scientific contribution in the form of poster presented during Pyro 2016. The young scientist was awarded last May 12th during a ceremony celebrated at the city of Nancy (France) Town Hall.
The work entitled “Soil organic matter alternations resulting from post-fire restoration actions” was made in collaboration between IRNAS-CSIC MOSS (Organic Matter in Soil and Sediments) and the  MED_Soil research group (Univ. of Seville).

Find Nicasio’s profile at Google Scholar.

The long, long travel from rock to soil (I)

There is hardly a subject in all nature, of which the majority of people has so unclear terms and which has hitherto been so completely misunderstood, as the soil on which they walk.

F.A. Fallou

Soil is often considered as the skin of the Earth and is located at the interface between the lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere. Air, water, rock and living beings interact to form soil, which, in turn, is the physical and nutritional support for living organisms in emerged areas. Currently, we define soil is an open system that temporarily stores the necessary resources for living organisms. The availability of these resources (water, energy, mineral nutrients, etc.) depends on the intensity and speed of exchange processes between soil and the rest of compartments of ecological systems.

Soil in the interface, by Antonio Jordán. Distributed by Imaggeo.

But the concept of soil has been modified in accordance to the increasing understanding of its components and the relations among them. During centuries, soil was considered not more than dirt on rocks, when not simply one of the strata in geological profiles. See, for example, the following statement: “That all the earthy part of soil consists of minute fragments of rock does not require argument, or need proof, but inspection merely to determine it. We have only to place specimens under the magnifier and their rocky origin will become manifest” (Eaton and Beck, 1820). Continue reading

Science results: special issues derived from EGU-Soil System Science sessions

Sunny day at EGU2014, by Antonio Jordán. Distributed by Imaggeo.

The impact of the oral, poster and PICO presentations of the Soil System Sciences Division of the EGU is greater and greater. Because of the relevance of research results, conveners and contributors often decide to promote the publication of journal special issues. This list is a compilation (probably not complete) of some of these special issues published in scientific journals, with links to the original sources. I’m sure some may be missing, so if you have information, you can send it to me or leave it in the comments. Continue reading

Soil science and policy challenges

Sarah Connors, EGU Science Policy Fellow
Antonio Jordán, University of Seville


Discussions during the 5th International Conference of Fire Effects on Soil Properties in the O’Brien Centre for Science, Dublin, Ireland (2015), by Antonio Jordán. Distributed by Imaggeo.

Soil is often considered as the skin of the Earth and is located at the interface between the lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere. Soil is the physical and nutritional support for living organisms in emerged areas. Continue reading

Ingrid Kögel-Knabner, a multidisciplinary soil scientist

Ingrid Kögel-Knabner
Chair of Soil Science
Technical University of Munich

The 2015 Philippe Duchaufour Medal is awarded to Ingrid Kögel-Knabner for her fundamental and ground-breaking work on the dynamics and stabilisation of soil organic matter in soils from a basic-chemistry and organo-mineral interactions perspective.

I received my doctorate from the University of Bayreuth, Germany, in 1987. In 1992 I became a professor of soil science and soil ecology at the Ruhr-Univeristät Bochum.I joined the Life Sciences Center of Technische Universität München (TUM) in 1995 as Professor in Soil Science. Since 2011 I am also a Carl von Linde Senior Fellow at the TUM Institute for Advanced Study.

Ingrid, with many soil samples in the lab.
Ingrid, with many soil samples in the lab.

Continue reading

Soil facts

As part of the activities of the International Year of Soils, FAO has published the following Soil Facts. Contribute with your comments!


The current rate of soil degradation threatens the capacity to meet needs of future generations.


We need healthy soils to achieve our food security and nutrition goals.
Did you know that a tablespoon of soil has more micro-organisms than the whole human population on Earth?


Multiple roles of soils often go unnoticed.


Our soils are precious. Did you know it can take up to 1,000 years to form 1 cm of top soil?


Soils are key in the global carbon cycle. They help us to mitigate and adapt to the climate change.

Eric Brevik’s work awarded by Geoderma

The review paper The use of electromagnetic induction techniques in soils studies, by James A. Doolittle and Eric Brevik, has been awarded as the Geoderma’s Best Review of 2014. The Geoderma Best Paper Awards are chosen every year since 2013. Candidates are nominated by the Geoderma Editorial Board and a short-list is then created for voting by the editorial Board. The winner of the Geoderma Best Paper Award receives 1 year promotional access to the paper, a certificate and a gift voucher. This paper and the rest of winning articles are freely available until July 2016. Continue reading

Turning unproductive soil into profits

Preeti Roychand

La Trobe University
AgriBio Centre for AgriBioscience
Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Sandy soils in Western Australia are bad soils for growing plants due to their poor nutrients and water holding capacity (see an example in Figure 1). In general, these soils are water repellent, which leads to land degradation by increasing soil erosion risk and run-off rates. Nevertheless, these soils may be improved by clay addition, which leads to increase soil organic carbon content (Franzluebbers et al. 1996). Several ways have been used to increase soil organic carbon content in soils: i) no-tillage systems, ii) addition of bio char , iii) organic amendments or fertilizer addition and iv) switch to perennial plants. But there is another potential method for enhancing soil organic carbon storage in soils which has received little attention: mixing of isolated clay with sandy soils. Continue reading