The International Scientific Conference XXII Dokuchaev Conference for Young Scientists “Soil as the System of Functional Connections in Nature” has been held at St Petersburg University. It is justly considered one of the key scientific events for young soil scientists in Russia and the neighbouring CIS countries.

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The Dokuchaev school of genetic soil science is the oldest in Russia. Its history is intertwined with the history of St Petersburg University. “This school was established by a team of young, energetic and ambitious scientists. Students of Vasily Dokuchaev later became eminent scholars and founders of their own scholarly tradition. To my mind, the continuation of the annual Dokuchaev Conference for Young Scientists is the continuation of the best traditions of the 19th century. This was the golden age of natural sciences”, said Kirill Chistyakov, the Director of the Institute of Earth Sciences, at the opening session of the conference.

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Kirill Chistyakov also noted that soil science is a complex area that connects the achievements made by the basic sciences with related fields of expertise. It promotes synergies in addressing the challenges facing humanity today.

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Soil is the basis for the existence and food security of mankind. There is no doubt that this would be impossible to guarantee without the progress of soil science. I hope that all the participants of this conference not only find new inspiration for further development, but also establish contacts for further discussions and future joint projects so that the circle of soil specialists would increasingly involve qualified experts.

Kirill Chistyakov, the Director of the Institute of Earth Sciences

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Professor Takashi Kosaki, the President of the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS), also visited the opening session of the conference. “The International Decade of Soils (which runs until 2024. – ed. note) is the right time for studying soils and sharing the results of the cutting-edge research in Pedometrics. I am impressed by the range of topics covered by young scientists at the Dokuchaev Conference. But most of all, this conference, organised by young enthusiasts, is an excellent opportunity to address the issues which are crucial for the sustainable development of all mankind”, said Professor Kosaki. He devoted his plenary report to one of these issues, namely the problem of soil acidification in tropical regions.

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Overall, during the conference the participants presented reports in nine different fields. They reflected the full diversity of soil science: from the basic sciences of physics and chemistry to research on “soil-plant” system activity. Besides this, a special session “Mendeleev’s Periodic Table in Soils” was held to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the discovery of Mendeleev’s periodic law of chemical elements. The session “Soil-Memory” on palaeopedology also took place at the Dokuchaev Conference for the first time. Palaeopedology is an interdisciplinary research area, studying the soils of past geological periods in order to obtain information about the evolution of the natural environment.

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At the conference special attention was given to the school session “Soil as the heart of the ecosystem”. Despite its poetic name, this reflects the idea that soil is the main element linking biogeocoenosis and the basis for the existence of life on Earth.

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