Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences | JIRCAS

International Soil Conference, ISC2015

2015-09-15

Satoshi Tobida (Director, Crop, Livestock and Environment Division, JIRCAS)

To celebrate the International Year of Soils 2015, the Land Development Department (LDD), Thailand hosted the International Soil Conference, ISC2015 in the Regent Cha Am Beach Resort, Phetchaburi, Thailand on August 18~21, 2015. The conference was co-organized by IUSS, FAO, Asian Development Bank (ADB), Institut de Recherche pour le D?veloppement (IRD), Soil and Water Conservation Society of Thailand, Soil and Fertilizer Society of Thailand, as well as Kasetsart University. According to the organizer, total of 450 participants from 27 countries attended the conference.

ISC2015 Session ISC2015 Session

With the main theme “Sustainable Uses of Soil in Harmony with Food Security”, total 113 oral and poster presentations including 4 keynote speeches were given. The conference was divided into 5 sessions with respective themes as below:

  1. Soil Information for Supporting Sustainable Uses and Management
  2. Integrated Soil Management and Conservation for Food Security
  3. Role of Soil Ecology in Relation to Climate Change and Food Security
  4. Innovative Techniques and Tools for Soil Resources Inventories and Appropriate Management
  5. Public Participation, Networking and Policy Implementation on Land Management

The outline of the presentations which attracted me is introduced as follow.

  • Professor Christian Walter, INRA, France gave his keynote speech, “Soil information to support food security and ecosystem services”. In this speech, he introduced a trial by an international network of researchers in which metadata is integrated into the Digital Soil Mapping system. The trail system has being operated in Australia and France. Although the system currently provides only physical information of soil, it has been planned to add information on chemical properties (including soil fertility) and soil organisms in future. In France, for example, the gradual increase of phosphorus in soil has been reported due to the influence of animal husbandry.
  • Mr. Chencho Norbu, Director General, Department of Forest and Park Services, Bhutan presented his speech titled “A review of soil and land management interventions including policies and public participations: Lessons from the ground”. While talking about the relationship between international agricultural development organizations and farmers, Mr. Norbu said that Bhutan faces the common issue with Africa because both regions are currently increasing chemical fertilizer use in their agricultural productions.
  • Dr. Lingling Shi, Kunming Institution of Botany, China reported the results of the cooperative research with International Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) in her presentation titled “Plant-Fungi-Soil interaction in a long-term plant manipulation experiment”. The study tracked the change of carbon input and soil fungi community in forest soil, which relates to carbon storage in soil.
  • The poster presentation titled “Potential of Jatropha1) cultivation on local food securities in Xiengnuen District, Lao PDR: A promotion to energize crop policy” by Dr. Khambai Phunthavongsa and his colleagues, Khon Kaen University reported the current situation of Jatropha1) development in Lao PDR. Jatropha was introduced in the study area as an energy crop and expected to play an important role in rural poverty alleviation. However, the expected benefit has not been obtained by farmers due to the lower price of Jatropha than expected, while the production of Jatropha have being threatening food crop production due to the conflict of farm land by both crops.

During the Panel Discussion, Professor Rattan Lal, Ohio State University, USA, listed 10 factors that affect sustainable soil management: Causes of soil degradation, Soil stewardship & human suffering, Nutrient, carbon & water bank, Marginality principle, Organic vs. inorganic nutrient, Soil carbon & GHG effect, Soil vs germplasm, Soil as sink for atmospheric CO2, Engine of economic development, and Traditional knowledge and modern innovations. In addition, in his explanation about the soil carbon and ecosystem services, Professor Lal showed a pyramidal conceptual diagram with soil carbon pool on the bottom and other four issues on the other sides: 1. Food Security, 2. Climate change, 3. Land/soil restoration, 4. Biodiversity.

Panelist, Professor Mitsuru Osaki, Hokkaido University, Japan, focused on the earth system sustainability. He reviewed the change from low vulnerability and moderate resilience (low V and moderate R) in the 19th century to low resilience and high vulnerability (low R and high V) in the 20th century. He pointed out that the modern agricultural sciences accelerate this tendency while conservation sciences try to mitigate such tendency. He said that understanding climate change and mitigation and adaptation is an important topic to realize low vulnerability and high resilience, which would be indispensable in the 21st century.

Dr. Naruo Matsumoto, Representative of JIRCAS Southeast Asia Liaison Office made a poster presentation titled “JIRCAS achievements in soil fertility management and sustainable crop production in Southeast Asia” in theme 2. The poster summarized the soil fertility researches of JIRCAS which have been carried out in Southeast Asia. I also introduced two JIRCAS researches in my presentation titled “Achievements of JIRCAS research projects for sustainable land management and soil fertility enhancement in Africa”, namely, the sandy soil improvement study in Sahel = Niger and paddy fertility improvement study in Ghana (committed by Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries of Japan) in theme 5. The presentation emphasized that the key to success in technology development projects in Africa is not only the effectiveness of the technologies themselves, but how farmers, extension organizations, and governments can be involved into the project. This presentation won the best presentation award in theme 5. The full paper of the report will be published in the conference proceedings.

1) Jatropha, which is investigated in this study, is described as stone jatropha (genus name is unclear, but specific epithet is montana) in the poster. It is not Jatropha curcus, and might be Baliospermum montanum which has been once classified into Jatropha genus.