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Sustainable Soil Management Symposium held at SU
Author: A Rozanov and AG Hardie
Published: 19/02/2016

The recent Sustainable Soil Management Symposium, held on 5 and 6 November 2015 at Stellenbosch University, provided a platform for academics and practitioners alike to discuss the concept of sustainability and the main challenges associated with achieving sustainable soil use and management. The symposium was organized by the department of Soil Science, Stellenbosch University (Dr Andrei Rozanov) in collaboration with ARC Institute for Soil Climate and Water (Liesl Wiese) and Grain SA (Dr Hendrik Smith).


Prof Leopold van Huysteen, current Chief Operating Officer of Stellenbosch University and Professor of Soil Science at the faculty of Agrisciences, opened the symposium by putting soil management within the broader context of sustainability. The gathering was supported by the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) and addressed by Prof Ranier Horn, the current Secretary-General of IUSS, who stressed the importance of plastic and elastic deformations in long-term management of soil physical state. The president of the South African Soil Science Society (SSSSA), Dr Rianto van Antwerpen, addressed the audience on behalf of the society and underscored the urgency of sustainable solutions within the intensification of crop production within the context of Global Climate Change. The Western Cape provincial Department of Agriculture showed a strong financial and moral support and the meeting was addressed by the director of the department, Mrs Joyene Isaacs, who addressed the issues of food security within the context of sustainable development. The ARC Group executive: Research and Innovation systems, Prof J. Rees, pointed out the challenge of big data in soil information acquisition, processing and analysis. The industry participation including farmer presentations and attendance was strongly supported by the Grain SA, who feels the urgent need to ensure sustainable crop production in South Africa and sees soil as a key to maintaining the sector performance.


Many South African and international experts attended the symposium and participated in discussion of the strategy for South Africa to build and enhance sustainable soil management systems in agriculture and environmental management. Critical issues were highlighted that need to be addressed over the long term, including the issue of data quality, quantity and availability; the site specific dependence of sustainability; monitoring; the importance of organic matter dynamics; and the importance of appropriate indicators of soil health and soil quality towards  defining and monitoring sustainability.


More information about the presentations is available on the symposium website: