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World Soil Day celebrated in Russia           

Moscow, 5 December 2016 – The third UN World Soil Day “Soils and pulses, symbiosis for life” was celebrated on December, 5 at the Russian State Agrarian University – Moscow Timiryazev Agricultural Academy (RSAU-MTAA). The celebration was co-organized by RSAU-MTAA and the FAO Liaison Office with the Russian Federation, in close collaboration with the World Bank office in Moscow, the Eurasian Center for Food Security of the Moscow State University, and the UK Embassy in Russia. 

The main event gathered distinguished Russian and international soil scientists, representatives of the Russian government, international organizations, and the management, faculty and students of RSAU-MTAA. They heard the video message of Eduardo Mansur, Director, Land and Water Division of FAO. Presentations were made by Mr Rik van den Bosch, the Director of the World Data Center for Soils (ISRIC), the Netherlands; Riccardo Valentini, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate as member of the IPCC board, and the Director of the Impacts Division of the Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change; Elena Sukhacheva, Director of the Dokuchaev Central Soil Science Museum in Russia; and Professor David Hopkins from the Royal Agricultural University (RAU).

In her welcome speech, Ms Liesl Wiese, the representative of the Secretariat of the Global Soil Partnership based in FAO, highlighted that Russia has played an integral part in soil science history. “Of course, Russian soil science is synonymous with chernozems and we see our Russia soil and agricultural community playing a central part,” she noted, adding that “the Glinka World Soil Prize, named after the prominent Russian soil scientist Konstantin Glinka, will be awarded in Rome today, made possible by the Russian Federation”.  The annual Glinka Soil Prize will be awarded for the first time ever to keep the momentum created by the International Year of Soils (2015). The Prize is awarded to honor individuals and organizations whose leadership and activities have been contributing to the promotion of sustainable soil management and the protection of soil resources.  

In the afternoon the celebrations shifted to the RSAU-MTAA Williams Soil-Agronomic Museum. Following the presentation of the newly refurbished Museum, the guests toured the museum premises which houses one of the world’s largest collections of soil monoliths (three and a half thousand), and more than 30 000 soil samples from various genetic horizons. The unique soil collection is not only a magnet for tours and practical lessons for school and university students, but is also of major scientific interest for researchers and agronomists.

The celebrations of the World Soil Day at RSAU-MTAA continue on 6 December with an international conference on "Cooperation in Soil Science and Education, and Food Security", and a youth conference dedicated to the theme of this year’s World Soil Day, “Soils and pulses, symbiosis for life”.