Soil information sharing and knowledge building for sustainable soil use and management: problems and prospects for the 21stcentury

Dear colleague,

It is my pleasure to invite you to submit your research to the Soil Use and Management Special Issue (SI):

Soil information sharing and knowledge building for sustainable soil use and management: problems and prospects for the 21stcentury

SI Deadline for submission: 28 February 2018

SI information:

We believe that enhancing the sharing of soil knowledge between people over a sustained period, will result in improved soil management and lead to better soil condition and functioning.

Soil scientists and practitioners often work independently of each other, with limited opportunity to learn from each other and share their soil knowledge. At the same time there is a loss of people with a depth of experience, expertise and local knowledge of soil. Yet we have thought little about how we will capture their knowledge and experience and use it to inform and support the next generation of land managers or soil scientists working in the field, laboratory, office or classroom.

There is an unchallenged assumption that online information can replace on-ground expertise and personal connections. Although online information is accessible by dispersed communities, its unfettered proliferation makes it difficult for people to find useful and usable information they can easily apply. Therefore, online information may not increase understanding or change behaviour in relation to soil use or management. We need to think more creatively about how we can combine the speed and accessibility of the internet with the collective wisdom of experienced land managers or soil scientists.  How can we harness these human traits along with trust and reciprocity to allow real-time connections between practitioners and soil scientists?

Is the solution to a shrinking on-ground presence in soil management and advice to continue to invest in, and foster relationships between people to build understanding of soils and how they behave and ultimately how to protect soil from further loss and degradation? What is the role of placing information online, and can it be complemented with opportunities to share information face to face, over a sustained period? Are we creating the spaces for genuine partnerships between those with experience and those with expertise in soil to create a dynamic learning environment, and with it a greater chance of sustainably managing the landscape together? How can we ensure that we have the evidence that these blended forms of information delivery actually work?

SI aims:

The SI is open to all soil scientists and practitioners working in this area to provide answers to some of the unanswered questions laid out above. This Special Issue of SUM is presenting an opportunity for soil scientists, soil educators and extension agents to share what they have learnt through research or practice so that others can also learn from their experiences and improve the way we capture and share the experience and expertise of scientists and practitioners more equally, including: farmers, scientists, educators, extension staff, commercial sector and the public.

The Special Issue will provide a forum for those working on soil and with practitioners to highlight their work, and how best we can sustainably manage soils given the current socio-economic climate. The Special Issue will have examples principally from developed countries such as Australia, United Kingdom, Europe and North America, as many institutions are grappling with how best to achieve soil knowledge exchange and sharing in similar contexts, but would welcome contributions from developing countries located in Africa, Asia or South America.   The submissions will highlight the work of those people working at the coal- or chalk-face who rarely get an opportunity to showcase their work, and reflect on achievements as well as deficiencies. The Special Issue will be placed into sub-sections where there are common threads and synergies.

SI Contributions:

The focus is on all aspects of soil information sharing and knowledge building, focusing on the local scale, between soil scientists and practitioners, ranging from development and testing of extension techniques to training the next generation of soil scientists, as “complete” soil scientists. The list below provides some indication of the topic range, with the focus on their role in soil information sharing and knowledge building, by way of assessing their level of engagement and nature of impact:

  • participatory techniques to engage stakeholders
  • comparative analysis of online and face-to-face extension techniques
  • development of farmer-led soil health assessment techniques and data collection
  • soil testing in soil information collection and soil management decisions
  • precision agriculture and soil information collection
  • citizen science in soil data collection
  • mentoring and networking in soil science
  • the role of professional societies
  • peer and group learning for farmers
  • use of innovative technologies to increase data accessibility
  • community consultation mechanisms to resolve complex soil issues
  • science communication of soil knowledge
  • intermediaries in soil advice
  • virtual or real communities of practice
  • online soil information portals in delivering soil knowledge from microbes to land capability

SI instructions for submission:

Author guidelines are here

The word limit (including refs) is 5000 words.

The submission website for the SUM journal is located at:

To ensure that all manuscripts are correctly identified for consideration into the SI, it is important that you clearly indicate on the title page of your manuscript and immediately after your title and before the author list the following:

SI: Soil information sharing and knowledge building for sustainable soil use and management: problems and prospects for the 21stcentury

Abstracts are requested to be sent to either of the Guest Editors before 1 November 2017. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline of 28 February 2018, and as articles are submitted they will undergo peer review.  Manuscripts for the special issue will not be accepted after the 28 February 2018 but late received articles will continue to be considered for inclusion in future issues of SUM under an appropriate sub-heading.  Accepted Papers will be published on-line continuously (as soon as accepted, under Early View) and will be printed together in the SI which is scheduled to be published as the 1st issue of the Journal in March 2019. For the first issue of the year, papers are free to download for a limited period after publication.

Research articles and reflective pieces are invited. Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers).

All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. We will be asking contributors to review their co-contributors in the spirit of preparing a high quality and collaborative Special Issue.

A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts are available on the SUM Guide for Authors.

SI key dates, are the final deadlines, but contributors are encouraged to submit earlier to allow a more evenly distributed workflow:

Deadline for abstract submission to Guest editors: 1 November, 2017

Deadline for submission: 28 February, 2018

Deadline for manuscript review: 15 May, 2018

Deadline for manuscript revision and re-review: 1 November, 2018

Special Issue publication Volume 34, Issue 1: March, 2019

SI additional information: Direct any queries by email to either Guest Editors

Dr Lisa Lobry de Bruyn ( (Australasia and North American contributors)

Dr Julie Ingram ( (United Kingdom, European, African and South American contributors)

Editor in Chief of SUM

Michael Goss (