COLUMBUS, Ohio – It's not everyday one gets the chance to view agricultural life of a former Soviet nation.
But Ohio State University soil scientist Rattan Lal was given that opportunity when he recently traveled to the Republic of Moldova, a small landlocked Eastern European nation located between Romania and the Ukraine. The country declared itself an independent state in 1991 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
"It was a unique experience to see the Soviet system in action," said Lal, a researcher with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. "It's a self-sustaining, organically driven, neat and clean system."
Lal was visiting the Republic of Moldova to receive an honorary degree in ecology from Alecu Russo Balti State University for his international work in sustainable agriculture, carbon sequestration and global food systems management.
"The country's administration had seen Senate Resolution 440 and wanted to draft something similar and asked me to help them draft a resolution of the their own," said Lal, director of the OARDC Carbon Management and Sequestration Center.
Senate Resolution 440, which Lal helped create, places soil on par with water and air as an essential natural resource.
"A similar resolution would fit in nicely with the Republic of Moldova's agricultural efforts," said Lal, a professor with the School of Environment and Natural Resources. "The people take soil management very seriously as they recognize the land essential to their livelihood."
Lal said that the visit to the Republic of Moldova opens doors of opportunities for faculty and student exchanges, which he hopes to pursue in the near future.
This is Lal's third honorary degree. He also received honorary degrees from Punjab Agricultural University in India and Norwegian University of Life Sciences in Norway.
Lal, a recipient of the M.S. Swaminathan and Norman Borlaug awards, focuses on carbon sequestration studying soils in the United States, Africa, Latin America and India, and aiding in applying the technique of no-till to farms throughout the world.
His other areas of research include soil processes and atmospheric greenhouse effects, sustainable management of soil and water resources, restoration and rehabilitation of degraded soils, agro-forestry, tropical agriculture and agricultural development in the Third World.
Lal grew up on a small farm in Punjab, India, and received an undergraduate soil science degree from Punjab Agricultural University. He later received a master's in soil science at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute in New Delhi and followed that with a Ph.D. from Ohio State University. He has been with the university since 1987.