Soil Science Society of Ireland celebrate International Year of Soils

On the 4th December 2015 the Soil Science Society of Ireland (SSSI) hosted “Soil Science – Diggin’ it” to celebrate the 2015 International Year of Soils. The event, which was organized by UCD staff members of SSSI, was held in the Science Gallery Dublin and was compered by RTÉ Radio 1 broadcaster and Countrywide host, Damien O’Reilly.

Invited guest Professor Johan Six, a soil scientist based at ETH Zürich, who leads a research group in Sustainable Agroecosystems, gave a talk entitled “Managing Soils to Serve”. Professor Six spoke about the role of science in sustainable soil management and stressed the importance of targeting socio-economics and education for the sustainable use and protection of soil resources. Providing examples of his international work, a number of successful programs for soil management highlighted the successes of coordinated (inter) disciplinary education, and participatory research/education with land managers as pathways to deliver change in soil management in Uganda and Honduras. Closer to home, he highlighted urban agriculture as an educational tool in civil society.

The SSSI ran a 3-minute postgraduate thesis competition to provide a flavor of current soil research in Ireland by up and coming soil scientists. Postgraduate students were required to answer three succinct questions; 1. What research are you doing? 2. Why is it important? and 3. What difference will it make to Irish society? Postgraduate students represented the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Athlone Institute of Technology, NUI Galway, Teagasc, The James Hutton Institute, Queen’s University Belfast, University College Dublin, University of Limerick and University of Reading. 1st, 2nd and 3rd places were awarded to; Leanne Roche, Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from Irish soils while maintaining crop production (Teagasc and University of Reading), Mary Harty, Switching fertilizer formulation: a strategy to reduce green house gas emissions (Teagasc, Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute, Queen’s University Belfast) and Jeremy Emmet-Booth, Evaluation of visual soil structure assessment methods for research and management deployment in Ireland (UCD and Teagasc).
Postgraduate winners were presented with certifications by Prof. Johan Six.

Notes: The primary aim of International Year of Soils (IYS) 2015, which was set by 68th UN General Assembly, is to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions. The IYS 2015 was implemented by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, details can be found here.