Rattan Lal

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Rattan Lal
Born5 September 1944 (79 years)
Karyal, West Punjab, British India (now Pakistan)
Known forSustainable soil management for global food security and mitigation of climate change
AwardsGlinka World Soil Prize (2018), GCHERA World Agriculture Prize (2018), Japan Prize (2019), Arrell Global Food Innovation Award (2020), World Food Prize (2020), Padma Shri (2021)
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Sydney, Australia 1968-69; International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan, Nigeria, 1969-87; The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA 1987-2010.

Rattan Lal (born 5 September 1944) is a soil scientist. His work focuses on regenerative agriculture through which soil can help resolve global issues such as climate change, food security and water quality.[1] He is considered a pioneer in soil-centric agricultural management to improve global food security and develop climate-resilient agriculture.[2]

He has received the Padma Shri Award (2021), World Food Prize (2020), Arrell Global Food Innovation Award (2020), the Japan Prize (2019), the GCHERA World Agriculture Prize (2018), and the Glinka World Soil Prize (2018), among others, for his work.

Early life and education[edit]

Rattan Lal was born in 1944 in the Punjab region of British India where his family were subsistence farmers on 9 acres of farmland. As Hindus, they had to leave the region during the Partition of India and lived in refugee camps for two years, eventually resettling in India on less than 2 semi-arid acres.[3]

Lal received his B.S. from Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana; M.S. from Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi.[4] He was noticed by an Ohio State professor and was given a scholarship from the Punjab government for travel and funding. In 1968, he received his Ph.D. in soils from the Ohio State University.[5]

Career and research[edit]

Lal worked as a senior research fellow with the University of Sydney from 1968 to 1969, and then as a soil physicist at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Nigeria, from 1970 to 1987.[6] While in Nigeria, Lal discovered that organic carbon and other nutrients disappeared after deforestation and his research centered on mulching, cover crops and no-till farming to bring back the soil components. His research brought international scientists to Nigeria to view his experimental plots.[3] This research earned him the Japan Prize in 2019.[7]

In 1987, he returned to the Ohio State University, where as of 2024 he is a Distinguished Professor of Soil Science as well as founder and Director of the CFAES Rattan Lal Center for Carbon Management and Sequestration (Lal Carbon Center).[6][3][8] His work seeks solutions to the challenge of feeding the world’s 8 billion people by turning degraded soils back into healthy soils, restoring its carbon and nutrients.[3] His research has impacted agricultural yields, natural resource conservation, and climate change mitigation worldwide. The research models Lal uses indicate that restoring soil health can lead to multiple benefits by 2100. Benefits include doubling the global annual grain yield, decreasing the land area by 30% that is used for grain cultivation, and decreasing fertilizer use.[9] In 2021, he and his team launched the C-FARM research project on carbon farming to provide in-field validation of how soil captures and stores carbon dioxide.[3][10][11]

With an h-index over 190 in 2024, more than 1000 refereed journal articles[12] and over 100 books (edited and authored), he is consistently ranked as a top researcher by Clairivate and Research.com. His most cited paper was published in the journal Science in 2004, entitled "Soil carbon sequestration impacts on global climate change and food security" and drew international attention as the first published report on restoring the organic material in soil not only improves soil health but also reduces carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.[3][9][12]

Lal served as president of the International Union of Soil Science from 2017 to 2018.[13] He currently serves as Chair in Soil Science and Goodwill Ambassador of to Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and with IICA launched the "Living Soils in the Americas" initiative in 2021. [14] In 2022, President Joe Biden appointed Lal to the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD),[15][2] and in 2023, Lal serves as Chair of Scientific Advisory Board for the Department of Defence (SERDAP/SAB).

Awards and honors[edit]

Lal has received Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa, degrees from nine universities globally, including India, Norway, Moldova, Germany and Spain.

In 2023, Lal was ranked #1 globally and in the U.S. among Agricultural Scientists (Plant Science and Agronomists) of the world by Research.com (2023, #2 in 2022). [16] Lal was ranked #1 in Agronomy and Agriculture, Environmental Sciences, and at The Ohio State University; #34 Globally for the year 2020 and #73 Globally for career from 1973-2020 among the top 2% of scientists (out of total 8 million scientists) in peer reviewed research article "A standardized citation metrics author database annotated for scientific field" by Dr. John P. A. Ioannidis of Stanford University (2019,[17] 2020,[18] 2021[19]). He has been consistently ranked as "Highly Cited Researcher" by Clarivate Analytics, Web of Science (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023).[20] In 2014-2016, Lal was included in the Thomson Reuter's list of most influential scientists in the world.[5][21] His work has influenced Roger Revelle and Peter Smith.

On June 11, 2020, Professor Lal was named the recipient of the prestigious World Food Prize. His research diverged from the conventional 1970s soil fertility strategy of heavy reliance on commercial fertilizers. His research led a better understanding of how no-till farming, cover crops, crop residues, mulching, and agroforestry can restore degraded soils, increasing organic matter by sequestering atmospheric carbon in the soil, and help combat rising carbon dioxide levels in the air.[22] He was lauded by the World Food Prize president Barbara Stinson for “improving the food security and livelihoods of more than 2 billion people and saving hundreds of millions of hectares of natural tropical ecosystems.”[3] Lal was awarded the 2019 Japan Prize "for the sustainable soil management for global food security and mitigation of climate change."[7]

His awards include the following:


  1. ^ "Professor Rattan Lal honoured with Glinka World Soil Prize 2018". Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  2. ^ a b The White House (2022-01-14). "President Biden Announces Key Appointments to Boards and Commissions". The White House. Retrieved 2023-12-03.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Edwards, Randy. "Ohio State Professor Rattan Lal Aims to Eliminate Hunger While Helping the Environment". Columbus Monthly. Retrieved 2023-12-01.
  4. ^ "Prof. Rattan Lal". National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (India). Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Rattan Lal: Our Soils Rock Star". cfaes.osu.edu. Retrieved 2023-12-03.
  6. ^ a b "Rattan Lal". Ohio State University.
  7. ^ a b c d Charles, Dan (August 11, 2020). "A Prophet Of Soil Gets His Moment Of Fame". NPR Goats and Soda. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  8. ^ "Lal Carbon Center". Lal Carbon Center. 2024-02-06. Retrieved 2024-02-06.
  9. ^ a b "Carbon markets: Potential income for farmers". Ohio Farm Bureau. 2020-11-12. Retrieved 2023-12-03.
  10. ^ Whaley, Sherrie (August 22, 2022). "Ohio State leading new $15 million project to study carbon farming as climate change solution". The Ohio State University.
  11. ^ "The Ohio State University Study Examines Soil Organic Carbon-Enhancing Practices". Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR). 2024-02-06. Retrieved 2024-02-06.
  12. ^ a b "Google Scholar: Rattan Lal". Google Scholar. 2024-02-06. Retrieved 2024-02-06.
  13. ^ "IUSS - The International Union of Soil Sciences Past officers". IUSS - The International Union of Soil Sciences. Retrieved 2019-12-17.
  14. ^ SKNISEditor (November 25, 2021). "Brazil launches the Living Soils of the Americas program, the restoration initiative promoted by IICA and renowned scientist Rattan Lal". St. Kitts Novis Information Service.
  15. ^ NEWS (January 24, 2022). "Rattan Lal Appointed to BIFAD by President Biden". Ohio State University.
  16. ^ "Rattan Lal: H-Index & Awards". Retrieved 2024-02-06.
  17. ^ "A standardized citation metrics author database annotated for scientific field". PLOS BIOLOGY. Retrieved 2024-02-06.
  18. ^ "Data for "Updated science-wide author databases of standardized citation indicators"". Elsevier Data Repository. Retrieved 2024-02-06.
  19. ^ "August 2021 data-update for "Updated science-wide author databases of standardized citation indicators"". Retrieved 2024-02-06.
  20. ^ "Highly Cited Researchers". Clarivate.com. Retrieved 2024-02-06.
  21. ^ "THE WORLD'S MOST INFLUENTIAL SCIENTIFIC MINDS 2015" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2023-06-01. Retrieved 2024-01-11.
  22. ^ Pitt, David (11 June 2020). "Ohio State University soil professor gets World Food Prize". Tulsa World. Archived from the original on 13 June 2020. Retrieved 13 June 2020.
  23. ^ Bhavani, Divya Kala (2021-02-09). "Meet Prof Rattan Lal, the godfather of Soil Science, and a Padma Shri 2021 awardee". The Hindu.
  24. ^ DeMartini, Alayna (October 5, 2020). "Ohio State soil scientist honored for increasing global food production". Ohio State University.
  25. ^ "Glinka 2018". FAO, United Nations. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  26. ^ "IUSS - The International Union of Soil Sciences - Von Liebig award 2006". IUSS - The International Union of Soil Sciences. Retrieved December 17, 2019.