Dr. Greg Lawrence, United States Geological Survey

Title: Monitoring forest soils over time as a method to understand environmental change

Interests: Effects of acid rain and clearcutting on stream chemistry; biogeochemical linkages between soils and streams.

Dr. Keith Schilling, Iowa Geological Survey

Title: Nitrogen export from the corn belt: Scope and scale of a wicked problem

Interests: Surface and groundwater interaction, land use/land cover change, watershed modeling, nutrient fate and transport, sediment erosion and transport, floodplain processes, ecohydrology, time-series analysis, and biogeochemistry.


Session 1: General soil science

Conveners: Newton Lupwayi (AAFC), Nathan Basiliko (Laurentian University) and Jake Monroe (OMAFRA)

This session will include talks on soil chemistry, soil fertility and plant nutrition, soil physics, soil biology and soil pedology and mapping.

Session 2: Managing nutrient cycles for sustainable cropping systems

Conveners: Melissa Arcand, University of Saskatchewan & Kate Congreves, University of Guelph

Intensification of agriculture systems has been argued as necessary to meet the demand of a growing global population, yet intensification increases the risk of nutrient loss to the environment. Innovative management approaches that enhance nutrient use efficiency and tighten nutrient cycling have the potential to increase crop productivity while reducing nutrient losses. This session will highlight research related to optimizing management (i.e., crop rotations, tillage systems, fertility regimes) for efficient nutrient cycling, reducing nutrient loss, and enhancing crop uptake and productivity. Soil fertility and agronomy research focused on an improved understanding of the biogeochemical processes that govern the transformation and fate of inorganic and organic nutrient inputs in various cropping systems will be highlighted.

Session 3: Anthropogenic stressors on forest soils

Conveners: Paul Hazlett, Canadian Forest Service and Shaun Watmough, Trent University

Forest soils are stressed in a variety of ways. Soils are disturbed through forestry practices, are impacted by invasive species, are subject to pollutant loadings from atmospheric deposition and are increasingly affected by climate change. Soils are essential for healthy forest ecosystems, maintaining biodiversity, providing clean water, and providing important resources such as timber and other forest products. This session will examine the impacts of the many and various stressors, individually or in combination, on forest soils. Such stressors include, but are not limited to forest harvesting practices, atmospheric pollutants (acid, nitrogen, metals (e.g. mercury), invasive and native insects, plants and diseases and climatic change. We invite presentations on research using field work, laboratory experiments, monitoring studies or modelling efforts that evaluate the impacts of stressors on forest soils as well as potential mitigation opportunities.

Session 4: Promoting soil: Communicating the importance and value of what lies beneath

Conveners: Maja Krzic, University of British Columbia, Amanda Diochon, Lakehead University, Tom Yates, University of Saskatchewan

As soil scientists we are passionate about what lies beneath our feet and we appreciate and value soil’s many functions. That passion is typically infectious as we share our enthusiasm for soil during delivery of extension activities, outreach, with students in classes or with passers-by who stop to chat when we are in the field. The objective of this session is to share experiences and strategies that have been effective at raising awareness about the importance of soil at farm days, workshops, research demonstrations, public presentations, field trips, and classroom settings. Following up on the heels of the 2015 International Year of Soils, communicating the value of soil has never been more important; hence, we invite you to share and discuss your approach(es) for getting society to look down and see the importance of what lies beneath.

This session is supported by  the workshop, Structured Spontaneity for the Soil Science Classroom: Engaging Students with Improv, which will explore how improv can inform university teaching.

Session 5: Soil nitrogen cycling, assessment and management

Conveners: Judith Nyiraneza, AAFC, Keith Reid, AAFC, Guelph and Athyna Cambouris, AAFC

This session will focus on nitrogen (N) cycling in terrestrial agroecosystems including agricultural, forested and natural systems. Communications that could be part of this session include but are not limited to: strategies to improve nitrogen use efficiency by reducing N losses associated with nitrate leaching or nitrous oxide emissions. Impacts of management practices (i.e. N fertilization from organic and mineral fertilizer, tillage regimes and different rotation systems) on N dynamics.
Keynote Speaker: Nicolas Tremblay. Title TBD.

Session 6: Soil biology and biochemistry: Highlighting the role of soil microbial communities in ecosystem services

Conveners: Karen Thompson, University of Alberta, Kari Dunfield, University of Guelph

Microbial communities mediate water quality, greenhouse gas fluxes, plant growth, and carbon and nutrient cycling in the soil system. They are important regulators of ecosystem goods and services. The goal of this session is to highlight research that examines the relationship between soil microbial communities and ecosystem functioning and to explore approaches for assessing soil resilience and recovery from industrial, agricultural, and climate disturbances.

Session 7: Advances in soil sensing and model integration to study complex soil systems

Conveners: Dr. Asim Biswas, University of Guelph; Dr. Abbas Sayyad, Trent University

Complex interactions among various physical, geochemical and biological factors and processes result in soils that are highly variable in space and time. The intensity and the variations of these factors and processes over a range of scales make the system more complex. In order to meet the emerging need of information and to study the complex system, it is necessary to study soil at both spatial and temporal scales and the interaction between/among soil properties and processes over a range of scales. In studying this complex interactive soil systems, sensing of soil properties has long been a subject as well as tool for research. However, proper utilization of soil sensing data and integration with models to support decision making have lagged behind. This session will focus not only on advances in soil sensing but, equally importantly, advances in integration of sensed properties and sensing systems with simulation models to understand complex soil systems and provide decision support tools. Research on the recent advances and developments in the fundamental, experimental, methodological and modelling studies in order to characterize and quantify soil physical, chemical and biological processes that interact at multiple spatial and temporal scales are invited to submit to the session both as oral and poster contributions.

Session 8: Soil health and agroecosystem resilience

Conveners: Asim Biswas, University of Guelph and Kari Dunfield, University of Guelph

While soil health is the continued capacity of the soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals and humans, resilience is the capacity of an agroecosystem to respond to a perturbation or disturbance by resisting damage and recovering quickly. Healthy soil is key to a vibrant agriculture, clean water and air, and provides a home to microorganisms that play a fundamental role in all ecosystems. Yet there remains a gap in the fundamental knowledge around soil and soil health and how it increases agroecosystem resilience. Given the limited land available for agriculture in the world, understanding its functions, protecting its existence, maintaining its vitality and increasing resilience is paramount. This session solicits presentations (oral and poster) focusing on the role of soil health in vibrant, profitable and sustainable natural resource systems, as well as the critical importance of soil and soil health in meeting the challenge of feeding 9 billion people by 2050 while improving agroecosystem resilience.

Session 9: Linkages between agricultural management practices and water quality

Conveners: Merrin Macrae, University of Waterloo, Tom Bruulsema, IPNI, Pamela Joosse AAFC and Catherine Eimers, Trent University

The eutrophication of surface water bodies and the occurrence of harmful and nuisance algal blooms in lakes and coastal zones are important environmental and political issues throughout North America and globally. In many watersheds, a significant proportion of nutrient loading to surface water bodies has been attributed to agricultural cropland. In-field management practices, however, can influence the transfer of sediment and nutrients from intensive row-crop agriculture to waterways. This session will examine the impacts of agricultural cropland management practices on nutrient (particularly N and P) and sediment losses from agricultural fields and watersheds. Such practices include, but are not limited to controlled tile drainage, tillage, nutrient management, fertilizer and manure application strategies (source, rate, timing, and placement) and cover crop management. We invite presentations on research using field work, laboratory studies or modelling efforts that relate such practices to water quality improvements.

Session 10: Soil phosphorus assessment and management

Conveners: Noura Ziadi, AAFC, Barbara Cade-Menun, AAFC and Judith Nyiraneza, AAFC

Invited speaker:
Dr.Tom Bruulsema, International Plant Nutrition Institute.  Title: “Metrics of sustainable phosphorus management”

This session will highlight recent progress in soil P cycling including soil P measurements and characterisation using advanced methodologies and management practices that enhance P use efficiency under different agro-ecosystems.

Session 11: Advances in digital soil mapping

Conveners: Brandon Heung, Simon Fraser University and Margaret Schmidt, Simon Fraser University

Advancements in technology and the increasing availability of geospatial datasets have led to the development of methodologies for mapping, modelling, and visualization of the pedosphere over multiple spatial and temporal scales. The purpose of digital soil mapping (DSM) is to produce geographically referenced soil information by correlating legacy and/or field collected soil data to readily available environmental data using statistical relationships. Some key issues that are relevant in the field of DSM may include the development and assessment of soil sampling procedures over space; the development and collection of soil-environmental covariates; the application of remote sensing and proximal sensing techniques; the comparison of soil prediction models; the use and visualization of DSM products to perform digital soil assessments; and other related topics. The objective of this proposed session is to facilitate the dissemination of DSM activities across Canada as well as to promote this subfield of discipline.

Session 12: Soil carbon dynamics in the environment

Conveners: Hida Manns, Trent University

The role of soil organic carbon is developing in our understanding of soil moisture, nutrient availability, plant growth, erosion and water quality. Soil carbon is a many faceted element that enables soil to moderate plant growth and keep a balance of gases in the air, moisture in the soil and nutrients available upon request. Research is in development on methods, interactions, and processes by which soil organic carbon is maintained. With extremes of wetting and drying, sedimentation of waterways, soil surface erosion and crop yield are of increasing importance to our environment and agricultural sustainability. We welcome current research on multiple aspects of soil carbon processes and distribution, interaction of carbon with soil and plant factors, and at a range of scales from microcosm to watershed.