Thursday, July 24, 2008

2008 SWCS Annual Conference Publications

The 2008 Annual Conference in Tucson, Arizona, starts in two days. If you can't make it, you can still download and read the two conference publications (the final program and the conference abstract book). Go to:

Direct links:
Conference Program
Conference Abstract Book

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Smithsonian Celebration of Soil

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History unveiled “Dig-It! The Secrets of Soil” exhibit on July 17, 2008. Cristian Samper, director of the National Museum of Natural History, declared the exhibit a “Celebration of soil,” at the reception and preview. SWCS and SSSA members from all over the US participated.

The grand opening to the public was on Saturday, July 19. The Pritchard Lecture at the SWCS Annual Conference in Tucson, Arizona, will be a presentation about this new exhibit. You can learn more about this presentation at “Dig It! The Secrets of Soil” occupies approximately 5,000 square feet in the National Museum of Natural History. It is on display through January 2010 when it will take to the road and will be displayed at over 10 museums around the US.

A soil monolith from each state, territory, and the District of Columbia are on display. Interactive stations include soil texture, color and parent materials, and the distribution of soils in the US. Displays and videos related soils to our daily activities and show water, nutrient, and gas movement in soil, soil formation, and more.

For more information, visit the Smithsonian exhibit Web site: and the Soil Science Society of America web site:

Friday, July 11, 2008

Tillage Found to be More Harmful than Previously Realized

An article in the recent issue of the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation reports that "filling ephemeral gullies on an annual basis during tillage operations may be more harmful to soil and water resources than previously realized."

The study finds that "routine filling of empheral gully channels during tillage practices may result in markedly higher rates of soil loss as compared to allowing these gullies to persist on the landscape, demonstrating a further advantage of adopting no-till management practices."

News release from the USDA Agricultural Research Service:

Gordon, L.M., S.J. Bennett, C.V. Alonso, and R.L. Bingner. 2008. Modeling long-term soil losses on agricultural fields due to ephemeral gully erosion. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 63(4):173-181.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Ag Secretary Urged Not to Release Land from CRP

News release from Environmental Defense:

Fifteen conservation groups today sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer strongly urging him to reject pressure from Congress and producer groups "to allow the penalty-free early release of land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)." USDA has been urged to release up to 24 million acres from CRP - roughly three-fourths of the land currently enrolled in the program - and put it back into production. This move would result in a loss of billions of dollars of taxpayer investment in conservation on these lands.

"A penalty-free early release of the magnitude you are considering - millions of acres - would deliver a devastating blow to the nation's soil, water, and wildlife habitat, and significantly increase global warming," said the letter. "Because most CRP lands are marginal for cropping, even if all CRP acres were brought back into commodity production, the impact on aggregate commodity supplies and prices would be modest... We urge you to protect the taxpayers' investment in soil quality, water quality, and wildlife habitat and not allow landowners to leave CRP contracts early without fully reimbursing the Treasury for the taxpayer-funded investment in those lands."

Monday, July 7, 2008

"Biofuels Caused Food Crisis"

According to a confidential World Bank report leaked to the Guardian newspaper, "Biofuels have forced global food prices up by 75% - far more than previously estimated."

The story is available here:

Combined Earth Systems Science Agency Recommended

An article in the recent issue of Science magazine recommends combining the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) into a new Earth Systems Science Agency.

According to the authors, "Addressing serious environmental and economic challenges in the United States will require organizational changes at the federal level."

Associated Press story:

Science article (subscription required):

SWCS Publication Program Call for Proposals

The Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS) has released a request for proposals to be considered for its 2009 book and special publication program.

SWCS partners with leading authors to make the best in new conservation science, practice, and policy perspectives available to a broad audience. With over 60 years of publishing and hundreds of titles, SWCS is a trusted source in conservation publishing.

For more information, go to:

The deadline for proposals is October 15, 2008. Submission details are included in the link.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

SWCS Professional Takes Water Conservation Home

Today's Washington Post features an article about Soil and Water Conservation Society member Andrew Manale's rain garden:

Manale, who works for the US Environmental Protection Agency, is "among a pioneering class of gardeners who have turned to rain gardens, designed to slow and trap storm water in a way that's good for the garden and the environment."