matt-in-fieldMatt Ruark (Associate Professor and Extension Soils Specialist at UW-Madison) has been awarded the Vilas Faculty Early Career Investigator Award.  This award provides flexible research funds that can be used for books, research travel, supplies or similar expenses incurred in the pursuit of Matt’s scholarly activity.  Besides being a faculty member in UW-Madison Department of Soil Science, Matt is the Faculty Advisor for UW Discovery Farms and Project Director for the, Sustainable Dairy Project (USDA).

Soils and Environmental Chemistry

bleam-bookSoil and Environmental Chemistry (2nd Edition) by Will Bleam (Professor UW-Madison, Dept. of Soil Science), offers a holistic, practical approach to the application of environmental chemistry to soil science that includes over 100 spreadsheet files that supplement the text as a means of migrating problem-solving from calculator-based to spreadsheet-based.  With an expanded set of problems and solutions and added coverage of key topics such as sample collection, water chemistry simulation, and soil carbon cycle models, this updated edition is a must-have reference for soil scientists in environmental chemistry. Designed to equip the reader with the chemistry knowledge and problem-solving skills necessary to validate and interpret data, this book combines valuable soil chemistry concepts into the big picture. Presents key aspects of soil chemistry in environmental science, including dose responses, risk characterization, and practical applications of calculations using spreadsheets

Support the Department of Soil Science

dsc07045Buildings & Grounds: Jackson-Tanner Commons Fund (112-040-001)

Discretionary Funds: Department of Soil Science Fund (132-761-690); Soil Science Sense of Community Fund (112-760-000); Wm. Rothermel Soil Science Fund (132-760-734).

Endowed Chairs/Professorships: O.N. Allen Professorship in Soil Microbiology & Soil Science (132-766-025); Wm. Rothermel Bascom Professorship in Soil Science (132-761-507).

Undergraduate and/or Graduate Student Support: Champ Tanner Ag. Physics Award Fund (132-760-301); Charles & Alice Ream Soil & Water Protection Research Fund (132-760-392); Charles L. Ream Memorial Scholarship (132-760-073); Jaya G. Iyer Soil Science Endowment Fund (132-768-296); Kelling Soil Fertility Award Fund (112-767-130); Larry Bundy Graduate Student Fund (132-767-884); Lee Sommers Soil Science Graduate Educ. Fund (132-768-269); Leo Walsh Wis. Agri-Business Assoc. (WDGF) (132-763-186); M.L. Jackson Memorial Fund (132-763-633); O.N. Allen Graduate Fellowship Fund in Agric. (112-760-006); O.R. and Gladys Zeasman Soil Sciences Fund (132-765-222); R.D. Powell Memorial Scholarship Fund in Soil Science (132-767-570); Wayne Kussow & Wis. Turfgrass Assoc (WSGF) (132-762984).

Research and Programs: F.D. Hole Wis. Soil Study & Expedition Fund (1320767-691); Leo Walsh Distinguished Lecture ship in Soil Science (132–767-661); Nutrient Cycling in Agricultural Systems (122-760-003); Soil and Water Management Fund (112-760-005); Soil Science Faculty Research Fund (122-760-002); Wis. Soil Fertility & Nutrient Mgmt. Fund (112-760-004); Wis. Turfgrass Research Fund (112-760-001).

To donate to one of the Department of Soil Science Funds listed aboveClick here 


141205-world-soil-day-dec-5934625Soils have been neglected for too long. We fail to connect soil with our food, water, climate, biodiversity and life. We must invert this tendency and take up some preserving and restoring actions. The World Soil Day campaign aims to connect people with soils and raise awareness on their critical importance in our lives. World Soil Day 2016 will be celebrated on December 5. Soil is the basis for food, feed, fuel and fibre production and for services to ecosystems and human well-being. It is the reservoir for at least a quarter of global biodiversity, and therefore requires the same attention as above-ground biodiversity. Soils play a key role in the supply of clean water and resilience to floods and droughts. The largest store of terrestrial carbon is in the soil, so its preservation may contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation. The maintenance or enhancement of global soil resources is essential if humanity’s need for food, water, and energy security is to be met. For more information, go to


10-26web-photoAt the November 2016 Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, Alfred Hartemink (Professor and Chair, Department of Soil Science) will receive two prestigious awards:  SSSA Fellow and SSSA International Award. The Awards presentation will take place on Tuesday, November 8. Fellow is the highest recognition bestowed by SSSA. Alfred has made outstanding contributions in the area of research, teaching, service, and administration both at UW-Madison and several other countries. The International Award is presented in recognition of his high impact contributions in the growth and development of international soil science as evidenced by his work record in 7 countries, and presentations in over 25 countries.

2016 Soil, Water, & Nutrient Management Meetings

area-photoThe Department of Soil Science, in conjunction with University of Wisconsin-Cooperative Extension will host eight Soil, Water, & Nutrient Management Meetings around the state, starting Tuesday, November 29 through Friday, December 9. The purpose of these meetings is to provide research updates in the field of soil fertility, nutrient management, soil and water conservation, and water quality.  Discussion topics will include: What’s new in nitrogen management for corn and wheat; Recurring soil fertility questions filling my inbox; Update on plant tissue analysis research; Reviewing the benefits of soil biological additives; Behold the power of legumes (as a nitrogen source); Taking care of soil compaction issues during and after a wet fall; Managing Wisconsin’s soils for improved health; Proper plant tissue sampling and result interpretations; Nutrient management update:  Rule revision, plan reviews and new 590. Speakers include Wis. DATCP staff and Matt Ruark, Robert Florence, Francisco Arriaga, and Carrie Laboski from UW-Madison Department of Soil Science. The following CEUs for Certified Crop Advisers have been requested:  2 CEUs in soil & water management and 2 CEUs in nutrient management.

Each meeting will begin at 10:00 am and end at 3:00 pm. A $45.00 registration fee (which includes lunch) will be charged for the meeting. Noon meal reservations should be made with the host agent.  The information packet will contain PowerPoint summaries of talks and other useful reference materials.  Organizers request participants to pre-register with the host agent at least 1 week before the meeting they wish to attend.

The schedule for the 2016 Soil, Water, & Nutrient Management Meetings is:

►Tues., Nov. 29, Dane Co., Madison, Heidi Johnson, or 608-224-3716

►Wed., Nov. 30, Monroe Co., Sparta, Bill Halfman, 608-269-8722

►Thurs., Dec. 1, Eau Claire Co., Eau Claire, Mark Hagedorn, 715-839-4712

►Fri., Dec. 2, Adams Co.y, Marshfield, Richard Halopka, 715-743-5121

►Tues., Dec. 6, Sheboygan Co., Kiel, Mike Ballweg, 920-459-5904

►Wed., Dec. 7, Shawano Co., Cecil, Jamie Patton, , 715-526-6136

►Thurs., Dec. 8, Iowa Co., Dodgeville, Gene Schriefer, 608-930-9850

►Fri., Dec. 9, Dodge Co., Juneau, Loretta Ortiz-Ribbing, 920-386-3790

New book – The Soils of the USA

the-soils-of-the-usa-book-coverUnder the co-editorship of Alfred Hartemink, a book on the soils of the USA has been published – the first comprehensive coverage of the soils since 1936. It has been written by 46 soil scientists from across the country. The book provides an overview of the distribution, properties, and function of soils in the USA, including Alaska, Hawaii, and its Caribbean territories. It discusses the history of soil surveys and pedological research, and offers descriptions of the climate, geology and geomorphology, pre-settlement and current vegetation, and land use, as well as the distribution and properties of major soils including their formation, classification, and management. The final chapters address topics such as soils and humans, and the future challenges for soil science and soil surveys. More information click here.

A book launch is scheduled for Tuesday, November 8 at the ASA/CSSA/SSSA 2016 Meetings in Phoenix, Arizona. Please join the editors and contributors of The Soils of the USA to celebrate the publication of this outstanding volume @ 4:45 pm in the Springer Exhibition Stand, Phoenix Convention Center North, Exhibit Hall CDE.

Know Soil Science Emeritus Professors


Gerhard Bjarne Lee was born November 27, 1917, the second oldest son of Peter and Agnes (Grevstad) Lee, on the family dairy farm near Deerfield, Wisconsin. He attended Liberty Prairie School, served in the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937 and graduated from Deerfield High School in 1938. From 1938 to 1942, he managed the family farm and from 1942 to 1946 served as an engineer in the 730th Engineering Company in New Guinea and the Philippines. He received his BS degree in agriculture with a major in soil science in 1948 and an MS in soil science in 1949 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After serving as assistant agronomist at South Dakota State from 1949 to 1951, he returned to Madison and received his PhD in soil science in 1955. During this time, he was also an instructor in the Department of Soil Science and worked for both the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey and the Soil Conservation Service of the USDA.   He was appointed assistant professor in the fall of 1956 and promoted to associate professor in 1960 and to professor of soil science and environmental studies in 1974. He helped create and was the first chair of the Land Resources graduate program and he served in that position for 6 years, helping it to grow to more than 75 students.

GB, as he was popularly known, was a superb teacher and interpreter of soil. He skillfully connected hands-on experience in the field with landscape elements and geological landforms. He was a kind, soft-spoken mentor, had great rapport with students who often sought him out through his always open door. In 1955, he began teaching Soil Morphology, and in 1973 initiated a popular class entitled Soils and Land Use Planning that was also expanded into a senior seminar.  He was an undergraduate student advisor for many soil science majors and advised numerous students in the Institute for Environmental Studies. Dr. Lee was major professor to 16 PhD and 34 MS degree candidates. His teaching was recognized with the Atwood Excellence in Teaching Award in 1978 and the Outstanding Advising Award in 1979.

He was appointed a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and won awards for teaching and advising. From 1974 to 1981 he was a leader in the American Society of Agronomy committee that initiated the National Committee for Certification of soil scientists, known as the America Registry of Certified Professionals in Agronomy, Crops and Soils  (ARCPACS). He was a member of and held leadership positions in a variety of professional associations including ARCPACS, the Soil Conservation Society of America, and the Wisconsin Society of Professional Soil Scientists.  Throughout his career, Dr. Lee was dedicated to teaching the principles of soil and land use and extending basic concepts to the wider community. He gave numerous public lectures and published many bulletins, fact sheets and commentaries on prudent land use.  He was a member of and held leadership positions in the Soil Conservation Society of America and the Wisconsin Society of Professional Soil Scientists.

His research in soil genesis, morphology and classification led to numerous publications. He was particularly well known for his work with wetlands and Histosols, the soils of marshes and wet places (see publication entry below as a sample of his writings). He studied soil erosion, use of remote sensing methods to assess the extent of soil losses from croplands, and he conducted some of the earliest work on floodplain delineation. He cooperated with other researchers defining the soil and soil characteristics important to their research, including some early work with organochlorine and organophosphate pesticides.

Dr. Lee retired in 1988 with Emeritus status.  In retirement, Gerhard spent a great deal of time managing and improving his farm near Cambridge.  He planted several acres of trees and restored a wetland.  He became a certified master gardener and volunteered as a docent at Olbrich Gardens in Madison.  As he had throughout his adult life, he maintained a garden and fruit trees at the family home in Madison. In all these endeavors, he was able to put into practice many of the principles he taught in his courses at the University.  He was active in the Koshkonong Prairie Historical Society. He also wrote a memoir about his life growing up on a farm. Gerhard loved the land, especially the area where he grew up.

Professor Lee was married to his wife Mildred for 57 years. Their family included four daughters, Susan (Jim Conant), Rebecca Lee (Jack Theel), Nancy (Fred) Stratman, and Judith Lee. Professor Lee died on February 19, 2006 in Madison, Wisconsin at the age of 88.  The Professor Gerhard B. and Mildred Lee Scholarship Fund has been established through the UW Foundation for student support in the Department of Soil Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“Wisconsin Wetlands” (1976; UWEX, G2818) Paper-back – 1976 by D.A. Yanggen, C.D. Johnson, G.B. Lee, and L.R. Massie:  How do we resolve the conflicting demands for the use of wetlands? There is no easy answer. We must weigh the value of wetlands against the value they would have if converted to agricultural production, urban development, or other uses. The purpose of this publication is to provide information to help people come to their own decisions on how we should manage Wisconsin’s wetland resources.


Upcoming Emeritus profiles will include Osborne J. Attoe,  Richard B. Corey, Gordon Chesters, Lincoln E. Engelbert, Dennis R. Keeney, Robert J. Muckenhirn, John T. Murdock, Leo M. Walsh, and Sergei A. Wilde.




Thea Whitman Appointed O.N. Allen Professor

Whitman-headshot-croppedThea Whitman, assistant professor of soil science, has been appointed to the O.N. Allen Professorship in Soil Microbiology. The professorship, founded in honor of the late UW-Madison bacteriologist Oscar N. Allen, is designated to help support a faculty member in the Department of Soil Science doing work in the field of symbiotic nitrogen fixation or soil microbiology. The 5-year appointment comes with an annual stipend to support scholarship and research work.  Thea joined the department in January 2016. Her research focuses on organic matter cycling and the molecular and microbial mechanisms that drive it, seeking to understand the processes that control soil organic matter dynamics and interactions with microbes and minerals. The work combines soil biogeochemistry and microbiology with bioinformatics, molecular work and fieldwork, in order to conduct fundamental and applied research with relevance for land-use management, agroecology, and climate change policy.  Check out Thea’s recent blog posting for information about Oscar N. Allen and his wife and scientific partner Ethel K. Allen (


Joel Pedersen’s (UW-Madison Bascom Professor of Soil Science) research involves studying the biological impacts of nanomaterials, including how these materials interact with cell membranes. Joel is part of the collaborative, multidisciplinary JAP-1research group that makes up the UW-Madison-based Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology.  His research was recently featured in the online eCALS news.  To view the full story on this intriguing research, visit eCALS