OSU Soil Scientist Lends His Expertise for Al Gore's New Book

November 18, 2009

COLUMBUS, Ohio – An internationally renown Ohio State University soil scientist has offered his expertise in carbon sequestration and soil management for a new book authored by Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Vice President Al Gore.

Rattan Lal, a professor with the School of Environment and Natural Resources and director of Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center's Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, contributed to Gore's "Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis" on a chapter emphasizing the importance of soils and their ability to mitigate and adapt to climate change when properly managed. Lal is referenced on several occasions in Chapter 10, titled "Soil."

Lal said that a phone call from Gore this past summer led to the opportunity to collaborate.

"He started off by saying that he had several questions for me concerning soil management," said Lal, "and it turned into a 90-minute conversation."

The discussions resulted in the development of book content regarding the rate of carbon sequestration, soil management procedures, how to measure the amount of carbon in the soil, no-till farming practices and other soil management principles.

Lal said that he wanted to emphasize three key messages: proper soil management can make a difference in mitigating climate change; we cannot achieve food security in Africa and other developing countries without restoring carbon in the soils; and that neither of those two practices can be achieved if crop residue is removed from the soil.

"To have the field of soil science, and Ohio State University in particular, recognized in such literature is important," said Lal. "This book will go a long way to bringing the importance of soils and agriculture at the forefront of climate change policy and help educate the public on land sustainability."

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 has authored, reviewed and edited over 1,375 publications including 56 books and 545 refereed journal articles throughout his career, and has received over 14 distinguished awards.

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.

The School of Environment and Natural Resources is part of Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Author(s): 
Candace Pollock
Source(s): 
Rattan Lal