Rattan Lal

Nobel Conference 54

You can watch Rattan Lan's lecture online.

Rattan Lal is Distinguished University Professor of Soil Science and the Director of the Carbon Management and Sequestration Center at Ohio State University, and Adjunct Professor at the University of Iceland. He is a leading voice on issues related to climate change and soil carbon, soil degradation and restoration, food security, and environmental quality and sustainability with more than 2023 research publications, 19 books and 63 edited/co-edited books to his credit. As a part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. He has also received at least five international awards for his research endeavors, including the International Soil Science Award, the Soil Science Applied Research Award of the Soil Science Society of America, and the International Agronomy Award of the American Society of Agronomy. He was cited in Thomas Reuters 2015 and 2016 list of “World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds.”

Rattan Lal recognized that agricultural ideas inherited from the “Green Revolution,”which emphasized farm mechanization, and relied heavily on high fertilizer, pesticide and herbicide inputs, were too expensive, and thus out of reach, for most of the world’s subsistence farmers. Lal demonstrated that a combination of no-till methods and diverse cropping systems could achieve sustainable yields while also reducing the damaging effects of soil erosion. He has produced strong evidence that, by nurturing the soil through reduced tillage and crop rotations, and consistently covering soil with cover crops or mulch, we can farm sustainably and reduce many of the negative impacts of intensive agriculture.

While Lal’s research is world-renowned, he is also a teacher and mentor. As of July 2016, he had mentored 105 graduate students and 54 postdoctoral researchers, and had hosted 149 visiting scholars. His work has made major contributions to what we know about the relationship between agricultural practices and soil.

Professor Lal’s Nobel Conference Presentation

Rattan Lal has also been a leading researcher on carbon sequestration in agricultural soils. Soil acts as a long-term storage site for carbon, however many years of tillage have reduced soil carbon. His scientific work has shown that, by using conservation tillage techniques, soil carbon can be restored over many years, turning these soils into carbon sinks and thereby helping to reduce atmospheric CO2 concentration. Lal presented a global perspective on the interaction between soil and global carbon flows.