SSSB Thematic Day on Soil Health / Quality: What Defines a “Good Soil”?

Date: 19/12/2022 AM

Venue: Royal Academy, Hertogstraat 1, BrusselsRubenszaal & Atrium

Environment - Soil Health Series: Soil Chemical Quality Indicators -  Teagasc | Agriculture and Food Development Authority


8.45 – 9.15: Arrival (coffee in Atrium – presentations in Rubenszaal)
9.15 – 9.20: Welcome (Rubenszaal)
9.20 – 9.40: Invited Speaker – Bas van Wesemael (UCLouvain) Monitoring of soil health indicators in support of policy measures
9.40 – 9.55: Oral Presentation – Lisa Joos (ILVO) The response of the soil microbiome after short-term disturbances: a bio-indicator to reflect the soil health status
9.55 -10.15: Invited Speaker – Giles Colinet (ULiège) Healthy soils, healthy food? A trace metal perspective in kitchen and market gardens
10.15 – 10.30: Oral Presentation – Carlos Wetzel (LIST) Soil bacterial, fungal and diatom biodiversity in Luxembourg

10.30 – 11.00: Coffee + Posters

11.00 – 11.20: Invited Speaker – Martien Swerts (Vlaams Planbureau voor Omgeving)
Risk-based thresholds and soil functional indicators in the context of the EU soil health law
11.20- 11.50: Debate What defines a “Good Soil” —  Scientific reflections for policymakers

11.50 – 12.10: Invited Speaker – Ellen Desie (KULeuven) Soil health in forest soils – challenges and solutions
12.10– 12.25: Oral Presentation – Lola Leveau (UClouvain) The “earthworm basket” method appears promising for measuring mulch burial in on-farm research
12.25 -12.40: Oral Presentation – Robrecht Van Der Bauwhede (KULeuven) Optimizing screening of rock dusts for acid forest soil restoration
12.40 – 12.45: Closing Remarks


As we have entered the Anthropocene, the awareness has grown that soils are a vital, though limited, resource, supporting the delivery of many key ecosystem services such as food security and climate regulation. Given the critical role of soils in securing human well-being a range of new policy-making initiatives have been set up recently, such as the EU Soil Health Law. Hence, an exchange between policymakers and scientists is crucial in order to find out what parameters are key in determining a healthy soil. Or in other words, a very important question remains: “What Defines a Good Soil”? 

In the light of this question we would like to invite scientific contributions focusing on assessments of either physical, chemical or biological indicators of soil quality and/or soil health. We welcome both oral and poster and presentations covering a wide range of ecosystems, including natural, agricultural and urban environments.

Oral presentation will be followed by a debate on the suitability of a soil health approach in the context of the current EU law making process as well as on how to provide policy makers with scientific information and tools needed to protect our soils and secure the delivery of ecosystem services for future generations.

Register via this link (deadline 12/12)

Abstract submission deadline: 5/12/2022

Please use the below template and send your abstract to

SSSB thematic day on soil structure and compaction

Detection, monitoring and management of soil structure and compaction

Friday November 26th, 2021 9:15-12:30

Please find the full recorded oral presentations and posters and abstracts here.

We explored how to characterize and monitor soil structure and treat the challenges around the widespread problem of soil compaction and soil structural loss: prevention, detection, monitoring and management.

Soil compaction is one of the main physical threats to soil and largely results from the use of agricultural machinery, often in combination with wet soil. Halting soil degradation was put forward by the United Nations as one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 15). The phenomenon not only has negative consequences for rooting, nutrient uptake and consequently crop yield, but also compromises good water management. A compacted soil, after all, prevents the proper drainage of water in wet periods and makes it difficult for moisture to rise from deeper layers in dry conditions.

During this thematic day, we explored ongoing research on prevention, detection, monitoring and remediation of soil structural loss and compaction and its underlying processes.

picture Alejandro Romero Ruiz

Keynote talk by Alejandro Romero-Ruiz / Methods for Field-Scale Characterization of Soil Structure

Alejandro is a postdoctoral scientist at Rothamsted Research (UK). He obtained his PhD from the University of Lausanne in 2021, in which he studied the impact of soil compaction on soil hydraulic and mechanical properties at the plot scale by combining hydrological modeling and field monitoring of geophysical data. His current research focuses on the impacts of soil compaction in grasslands resulting from animal treading.


9:30Romero-RuizRothamsted/ETHKeynote: Geophysical method for field-scale soil structure characterization
10:00LinUGentAssessment of soil structural quality across different textures with visual and soil physical analysis methods
10:20AnseeuwVIVESTowards a common VSA standard for Flanders
10:40VanderhasseltILVORemediation of subsoil compaction by subsoiling and deep rooting crops
11:00-11:20coffee break
11:20HardyCRAwThe QuantiSlake test : a new simple method to evaluate soil structural stability
11:30PirlotGxABTMonitoring the temporal evolution of the soil structure of three innovative production systems in the field
11:40Ten DammeSLUAccounting for traction effects for improved assessment of the risk of soil compaction
11:50-11:55short break
11:55VandekerckhoveBDBRemediation of subsoil compaction by deep tillage
12:05Mendoza VeiranaUGentA theoretical improvement of soil pedophysical permittivity models
12:15PeitenUAEcological and hydrological functioning of compacted and non-compacted topographical depressions in agroscapes

Book of abstracts

Soil & Wine – Thematic day 2019 #TD2019

What is terroir? Does soil determine what we taste in wine? What does that mean for Belgian wines?
Touch, taste and find the answers on these questions and much more during  the next SSSB thematic day on December 4th, 2019 in Louvain-la-neuve.

Keynote speakers

The Impact of Terroir on wine production: wine-growing aœnological potential in Belgium – by Bruno Delvaux, Vincent Dienst & Charles Vander Linden (UCLouvain, Château Bousval)

Monitoring of water status in the soil-vine-atmosphere system: evaluation of the water constraint at Château de Bousval
– by Louis Delval, Marion Trigaux & Clemence Becker (UCLouvain)
How to express terroir in original belgian wines? A case study at the Domaine du Chenoy

– by Jean-Bernard & Pierre-Marie Despatures (Domaine du Chenoy)

Soil and wine – in the field!

Visit to the ‘Château de Bousval’ vineyards with examinations of the soil profiles in a toposequence. This evaluation of the profiles will be paired with tasting of two Chardonnay 2018 harvested at the top and bottom of that very toposequence!

Registration and call for poster abstracts

Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis as the number of participants will be limited.

Practical information

Check-in and departure: Auditorium S01, Croix du Sud, Louvain-Neuve (Parking 20)

08:15 Welcome, registration and coffee: Auditorium Sud 01, Croix du Sud, Louvain-Neuve
08:50 Departure by bus to the vineyard Château Bousval
Meeting points: Auditorium Sud 01, 8:45; Croix du Sud Parking 20, 08:50
09:20 Vineyard Château Bousval. Welcome by Ir. Vincent Dienst
Soil toposequence: examination of two soil profiles with distinct hydric properties and thus different levels in water constraint (boots are recommended)
Wine degustation: links between water constraint and wine quality
12:00 Board meeting for SSSB board members, Salle du Décanat AGRO, Croix du Sud
Free time for other participants: sandwiches available at the Bar Agro, Sud 01
14:00 Key note: The Impact of Terroir on wine production: wine-growing and oenological potential in Belgium by Bruno Delvaux, Vincent Dienst, Charles Vander Linden
14:40 Soil survey for land evaluation and rootstock selection in viticulture in Belgium by Sofie Reynaert
15:00 Soil properties, water constraint and quality in Belgian viticulture. Case study of Château Bousval by Louis Delval
15:20 Coffee break and poster session
15:45 Key note: How to express terroir in original Belgian wines? Case study of the Domaine du Chenoy by Jean-Bernard & Pierre-Marie Despatures
16:20 High-resolution subsurface imaging using ground-penetrating radar and electromagnetic induction for optimal management of vineyards by Sébastien Lambot
16:40 Announcement for the SSSB International Spring Excursion in 2020: Linking Terroir and Soils to Wine Typicity and Quality, Burgundy, France by Bruno Delvaux
16:45 Concluding remarks

Organizer: Prof. Bruno Delvaux
for the Soil Science Society of Belgium

Thematic day 2018: Biogeochemical cycles and their role in the Earth system

What? Thematic day on “Biogeochemical cycles and their role in the Earth system”
When? November 21st, 2018
Where? Palace of the Royal Academies, Brussels

Description. Biogeochemical cycles are characterized by geo, i.e. physical and chemical transformations of an element on earth; bio, i.e. a cycle involves at least one biotic process; and cycle, because element species produced in one process are eventually consumed in a subsequent process. Biogeochemistry is, therefore, an interdisciplinary discipline that includes physical, chemical, and biological process that contribute to the functions and values of ecosystems on Earth.

Biogeochemical cycles fulfill key functions that are critically important to maintain life on Earth. These functions include: storage and use of radiation energy the Earth receives (CO2 fixation); and recycling of material, which allows the biosphere to use the same element over and over again. The elements studied in biogeochemical cycles depend on the scientific question to pursue, but in soil science we are merely interested in biogeochemical cycles because of the role they play defining the interaction between livings systems (e.g. plants, microorganisms) and the abiotic environment (e.g. soils, rocks). Major and minor elements are considered as essential or beneficial depending on their role in terrestrial biosphere functioning.

The interplays between elements (C, N, P, S and Fe, Mn, Si, Ca, Mg, K) are however are however central for understanding the role of biogeochemical processes on global balance of elements. The interdisciplinarity nature of biogeochemistry becomes obvious in various research lines, such as: catchment and river monitoring, terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem functioning, biosphere-atmosphere exchange in a global change era, (global) nutrient cycles and their interactions, isotope systems, etc.

Keynote by Prof. Steven Bouillon (KULeuven) and Prof. Pascal Boeckx (UGent):
Congo basin biogeochemical cycles: linking terrestrial and aquatic processes’



We invite oral and poster submissions that studied biogeochemical cycles in soil systems, but highly encourage submissions that show interactions between the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and cryosphere, thereby highlighting the key role of biogeochemical cycles for the Earth system. 

Please proceed to abstract submission and registration here.
Deadline for submission: October 19th, 2018.

SSSB member: 5 Euro
-Thematic Day only: 20 Euro
-Thematic day + Membership for 2019: 40 Euro

SSSB Thematic Day – 30 November 2016

Thematic day 2016 “Soil processes and biogeochemical cycling of  elements”

Wednesday 30 November 2016

Dear soil scientists,
We are pleased to inform you about the SSSB thematic day 2016 programme.
Venue: The Royal Academies for Science and the Arts of Belgium (Rubens room and lobby), Hertogsstraat 1 Rue Ducale,  B-1000 BRUSSELS


Scientific programme

13.15 – 13.45 : Registration and welcome coffee
13.45 – 13.50 : Opening welcome
13.50 – 14.20 : Keynote presentation ‘Soil processes and cycling of elements in soil-plant systems’ by B. Delvaux (UCL)
14.20 – 14.40 : ‘Is soil pore structure control on substrate decomposition manifested through N availability?’ by P. Maenhout (UGent)
14.40 – 15.05 : Invited talk ‘Effects of erosion and land use change
on the reactive silica pool’ by D. Unzué-Belmonte (UAntwerp)
15.05 – 15.25 : ‘Phytolith-rich biochar increases cotton biomass and silicon-mineralomass in a highly weathered soil’ by Z. Li (UCL)
15.25 – 16.00 : coffee break and poster presentation
16.30 – 16.55 : Invited talk ‘Historical charcoal in soils : effect on carbon sequestration’ by B. Kerré (KUL)
16.55 – 17.15 : ‘Relic charcoal hearths : a neglected important soil carbon reservoir of italian forests’ by G. Mastrolonardo (ULg)
17.15 – 17.40 : Invited talk ‘Multi-scale assessment of soil organic carbon dynamics : insights from carbon fractionation’ by S. Trigalet (UCL)
17.45 -… : Concluding remarks

Summary of the thematic day:

The sustainable management of element cycling, either nutrients or contaminants, in soil-plant systems requires the understanding of soil processes that govern the interactions between soil constituents, soil properties and functions. Soil processes strongly affect the rate of element cycling in terrestrial ecosystems but also the mineral and organic origin of the bioavailable pools of the elements. The management of agro-ecosystems is in a transition stage, given the challenge of producing more biomass while increasing the resistance and resilience of  food systems. A process-based approach of the evolution of soil in a constantly varying environment is crucial in a further understanding of  how soils can sustain the ecological equilibrium of agro-ecosystems.
Everybody is welcome and participation is free!
Looking forward to meeting you in Brussels.
Bruno Delvaux (UCL) & Jean-Thomas Cornélis (ULg)

Programme Thematic Day ’14

Soil-plant interactions in a changing world

DATE: Friday December 5th, 2014 (9:00 – 12:30)
VENUE: The Royal Academies for Science and the Arts of Belgium (Rubenszaal), Hertogsstraat 1 Rue Ducale, Brussels
REGISTRATION: see below or follow this link

» Download the book of abstracts here!

Soil, plants and chemistry

09:00-09:20 ‘Capacity of microorganisms to decompose organic carbon affected by an increasing content of reactive mineral phases in a podzolic soil chronosequence.’ Vermeire et al. (UCL)

09:20-09:40 ‘Calibration of δD n-alkane as paleo-climate proxy in the DeepCHALLA archive.’ De Wispelaere et al. (UGent)

09:40-10:00 ‘Effects of different types of fertilizers on phosphorus availability in a soil with low P content.’ Barbieux et al. (ULg)

 Coffee break (30 min) + poster session

 Soils and plant roots

10:30-10:45 ‘Can root distribution be related to soil water potential in an irrigated ‘Conference’ pear orchard?’ Janssens et al. (Soil Service of Belgium)

10:45-11:00 ‘A review of the effects of plant roots on concentrated flow erosion.’ Vannoppen et al. (KULeuven)

11:00-11:15 ‘Can electrical resistivity tomography offer us a dynamic view on what happens in the soil-plant continuum?’ Garré et al. (ULg)

11:15-11:30 ‘Differential hydrological strategies: a stable isotope perspective on trees water sources.’ Hervé-Fernández et al. (UGent)

11:30-11:45 ‘Improving macroscopic modelling of water and osmotic stresses on root water uptake.’ Jorda Guerra et al. (KULeuven)
11:45-12:15 Invited talk: ‘Water relations in the soil-plant system: what can we learn from functional-structural plant models.’ Lobet et al. (ULg)

Extra poster contributions still possible. (Poster guidelines: max A0, portrait)
Deadline 01/12/2014
In the framework of the international year of soils (IYS), poster contributions announcing activities for the IYS are encouraged next to the regular research posters.

2015 International year of soils

SSSB Thematic day 2014: Plant-soil interactions in a changing world

The uptake of water and nutrients by plants from the soil are key processes controlling mass and energy fluxes within the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum. Small-scale interactions at the soil-plant interface may have global scale and long-term effects on water, carbon, nitrogen and energy balances. Understanding these interactions, their effect on rooting behavior and on soil characteristics, and clarifying their manifestation at ecosystem scale is critical for predicting impacts of global change and climate variability on carbon, nutrient and hydrologic cycles. For the SSSB thematic day, we solicit investigations unraveling parts of this fascinating interplay between plants and soils. 

The SSSB thematic day is organized on the World Soil Day, a day to celebrate the importance of soil as a critical component of the natural system and as a v

ital contributor to human wellbeing.

Date: December 5th, 2014

Location: The Royal Academies for Science and the Arts of Belgium (Rubenszaal), Hertogsstraat 1 Rue Ducale,  B-1000 BRUSSELS



50 years of sharing knowledge in soil science for worldwide sustainable development

Date: 2013-12-05

Time:  9.15 am – 5.30 pm

Location: Het Pand, Onderbergen 1, 9000 Gent, Zaal Rector Vermeylen


More info:
On 5 December 2013 the 50th anniversary of the international training programme in Soil Science at Ghent University will be celebrated with a thematic day entitled:

’50 years of sharing knowledge in soil science for worldwide sustainable development’

Registration is possible through the following link (until November 5th, 2013):

Download the programme here.

Route: Het Pand – How to get there?