Happy New Year! As we head into 2024, now is a fantastic time to reflect on the Society’s achievements during 2023.
Aligned to our strategy and 10-year vision, our activities and initiatives have meant that our membership continues to grow, with our highest number of individual members for many years, 930 at the last count! I am incredibly proud of what we have collectively achieved during 2023, some personal highlights were presenting to governmental negotiators at both COP 28 in Dubai and SB58 in Bonn, giving evidence at the Soil Health Inquiry and hearing from UK soils policy makers during our Annual Conference.
Although we will publish our Annual Report in spring, which will set out all of our key achievements during the year, I would like to spotlight a few in particular:
- The soil science community fully engaged in our successful Annual Conference, held in Belfast. It was the first in-person conference for four years and was attended by over 160 delegates. This was immediately followed by the inspirational Early Careers Conference, attended by 100 delegates. 96% of delegates rated the speakers and their content at both conferences as good or excellent, with 98% reporting that they had learnt something new as a result. It was fantastic to see you all, there was a real buzz at both events!
- We developed an exciting new soil science qualification: the Level 7 Soil Scientist apprenticeship and we are in the final stages of gaining End Point Assessment Organisation accreditation for this to be delivered from June 2024.
- We increased our training opportunities, delivering five Working with Soil courses to over 100 delegates. This provided important Continuing Professional Development opportunities and new skillsets for BSSS members and the wider community.
- We shared perspectives on hot topics in soil science with a wide audience delivered through seven Zoom into Soil webinars. We were joined by just under 800 attendees in total and over 90% stated the content was good or excellent. A key legacy of these webinars is knowledge exchange and over 70% said they would use the information in their future practice. The webinars have been viewed collectively almost 5,000 times online!
- The leadership from the Editors of our journals, Soil Use and Management and European Journal of Soil Science, has resulted in the publication of ground-breaking research and increased Impact Factors for the journals. This demonstrates the value members and external audiences place on the content within both publications.
As we look to the year ahead, we are delighted to launch our new mission and vision. Developed by our Board, and sent to members in the autumn for consultation, these documents help us to understand the direction in which we are heading and how we will know if we are making a difference.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the BSSS executive team and all our members and volunteers for their enthusiasm and energy, especially to Board, Council and Committee members for their support over the last 12 months. We have delivered a bumper year and I’m looking forward to another positive and impactful year for BSSS members (and soil) in 2024!