6th International Symposium
on Soil Organic Matter

Healthy soils for sustainable agriculture: the role of SOM
3–7 September 2017 • Rothamsted Research • Harpenden (United Kingdom)

6th International Symposium
on Soil Organic Matter

Healthy soils for sustainable agriculture: the role of SOM
3–7 September 2017 • Rothamsted Research • Harpenden (United Kingdom)

Congress details



Monday, 4 September

Room 102 & 103

Professor Margaret Oliver: Editor in Chief of the European Journal of Soil Science
Professor Mike Goss: Editor in Chief of Soil Use and Management

Our aim is to help authors and reviewers through the many stages that lead to the publication of papers.

Many papers are rejected at the first stage of assessment without even going for peer review for reasons that authors could deal with quite straightforwardly. Based on our experience as Editors-in-Chief of two different Journals we believe that we can help everyone to avoid the disappointment that results from the unnecessary rejection of a paper.

We have designed a workshop that offers guidance to new authors and those with little experience of publishing in international scientific journals in the preparation and submission of papers so that they are successful in getting their papers published.

This is not be a workshop about writing per se, but about how best to approach the development of a paper, target the most appropriate Journal for a topic to ensure that it stands the best possible chance of being accepted for publication.

Editors are not just the people who send out messages with decisions (accept or reject) about papers, but they are your link to expert advice during the preparation of your paper or if reviewers identify areas that require revision. The guidelines we present include the handling of reviewers’ comments and responding to the copy editor’s questions at the proof stage.

Peer review is an essential and important part of the publishing process in Journals. Publishing in Journals would grind to a halt without peer review. Reviewers are there to ensure that the scientific content provides new knowledge that is relevant, up-to-date and accurate. Part of becoming a successful, well-published author is to take part in the peer review process. It is essential for every author to act as a re-viewer, to give the necessary time to the process and we will to guide you through this process with handouts.

The workshop will comprise a presentation of 60 minutes, a question and answer session and an opportunity for delegates to have one-to-one sessions with us.

Please contact either Margaret Oliver: m.a.oliver@reading.ac.uk or Mike Goss:
mgoss@uoguelph.ca if you require more information.

Tuesday, 5 September

Room 102 & 103

Professor Margaret Oliver: Editor in Chief of the European Journal of Soil Science
Professor Mike Goss: Editor in Chief of Soil Use and Management

Interested delegates who would like to publish their paper(s) in the special issues of either “European Journal of Soil Science” and/or “Soil Use and Management”, both from Wiley-Blackwell of the British Society of Soil Science, have the chance to talk with the editors in chief about their papers.

BASF AgBalance Workshop

Wednesday, 6 September

Sustainability is becoming increasingly important as a key factor for growth and value creation. Customers along supply chains want more sustainable products and system solutions. There is a need to integrate sustainability much more closely into businesses and decision-making processes. To manage this in an effective way and to support decision-making processes, a sustainability evaluation toolbox is needed which can be applied to assess products and processes in a holistic manner.

Soil Organic Matter is widely acknowledged as an underpinning principle in sustainable agriculture, because of its perceived benefits for soil health and crop production and for the potential to attract carbon credits in the emerging global markets. How important is Soil Organic Matter in improving the sustainability and resilience of farming systems? What value can be applied to the role of Soil Organic Matter in life-cycle analyses of food production systems?

AgBalance comprises a multi-criteria life cycle based approach in combination with a defined aggregation and summary of single results into a single sustainability score. AgBalanceTM delivers results that enable farmers, the food industry, politicians and society to objectively evaluate processes in terms of their sustainability profile. In doing so, a vast amount of information on individual factors can be ascertained in addition to overall statements on the sustainability of agricultural practices (e.g. ploughing). It can be used to map an individual farm or the whole agricultural sector in one region. The focus can either be on the agricultural production system alone or on the processes that have established themselves downstream in the value chain, such as logistics or processing.

Measuring sustainability can be a central key to steady improvements towards sustainable agriculture. It is therefore an essential requirement that it succeeds in translating results from complicated life-cycle analyses into farmers’ everyday reality and to derive specific recommendations for action from this. Novel IT solutions are required in order to make use of LCA-based knowledge for a more sustainable crop management on-farm. This is the basic idea of the concept “AgBalance Farm”.

Come and see sustainability measurement and simulation in action. Experience from a farmer’s or value chain player’s perspective the consequences of your actions. Learn and appreciate that ultimately sustainability is all about tradeoffs. There is no single silver bullet, rather a personalised recommendation that takes account of many variables to deliver the best possible sustainable solution that meets the required objective.

BSSS Open Workshop: Managing SOM in agriculture

Thursday, 7 September
Room 104

Organiser:   David Hopkins

OVERVIEW: The purpose of this workshop is to provide a link between scientific research and practise, with the emphasis on what farmers and land managers may be able to do or see for themselves without access to expensive research laboratories. 

Discussion and engagement are the focus, and the format will be flexible and each of the themes below may be a talk, a short presentation, a field demonstration or a discussion, and events may have therefore run in parallel or be repeated.

Attendees are encouraged to bring a sample of their own soil for assessment.


David Hopkins
Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester UK
Elizabeth Stockdale
University of Newcastle, UK
What we can learn from looking at soil in the field?Talk and field demonstration
Claire Horrocks
Rothamsted Research, North Wyke, Devon UK
Visual assessment of soil structural stabilityTalk and demonstration
Marc Redmile-Gordon
Rothamsted Research,
Harpenden UK
What sticks soil together?Poster and discussion
Tom Sizmur
University of Reading, UK
In-field assessment of earthworm presence and activity Talk and field demonstration
Ian Grange
Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester UK
Carbon additionality – what’s in the margins?Poster and discussion
Patrick McKenna
Royal Agricultural University,
Cirencester UK
Cover cropping and soil propertiesPoster and discussion
Matt Aitkenhead
James Hutton Institute,
Aberdeen UK
Soil carbon AppDemonstration
Becky Willson
Duchy College,
Cornwall, UK
The “Crap App”Demonstration
Tom McMillan
Soil Association, Bristol, UK
Experience from Innovative Farmers NetworkDiscussion
Bob Rees
Scottish Rural University College, Edinburgh UK
Improved reporting of soil carbon stock changesTalk

Jennifer Dungait
Rothamsted Research, North Wyke, Devon UK

On-farm evidence of SOM measurement and soil health indicatorsTalk

*SUBJECT TO FINAL CONFIRMATION: NB. additional contributions can still be accepted – please contact david.hopkins@rau.ac.uk