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2022 Speakers

Climate resilient soil management strategies for sustaining food and Nutritional security

Pradip Dey

Pradip Dey, Speaker at
ICAR-Indian Institute of Soil Science, India
Title : Climate resilient soil management strategies for sustaining food and Nutritional security


Soil quality (SQ) has become an internationally accepted science-based tool for advancing the assessment, education, understanding and management of soil resources. Two of the most important factors associated with the soil quality concept are that (1) soils have both inherent and dynamic properties and processes and that (2) soil quality assessment must reflect biological, chemical, and physical properties, processes and their interactions. In general, Soil quality index (SQI) is a useful assessment tool that may help in soil conservation and resource management apart from assessments of soil erosion and changes in productivity. Despite such importance of SQI in combating SQ degradation, only few studies have been reported in relation to various land use and soil management systems. This indicated that research on SQI has been mostly neglected for unknown reasons, with the most probable reason which could be technical and financial limitations.

Climate change is a defining moment of our time with major negative implications on ecology, human culture, livelihoods and food security. Carbon sequestration is considered one of the remedial measures to arrest climate change. The principal way of carbon storage in soil is through formation of soil organic matter. Soil organic matter is a complex mixture of carbon compounds consisting of decomposed plant and animal tissues, microbial biomass and carbon associated with soil minerals. Among all these soil organic carbon (SOC) is most important one. The soil organic carbon can remain stored in soil for infinite period or may quickly released back to the atmosphere depending on various conditions. Soil organic carbon acquires a steady state at its potential value, where CO2 loss and SOC sequestration is at the equilibrium.

A high aggregation on account of increased silt and clay protects soil organic carbon (SOC) from decomposition by trapping them between the aggregates. Soil organic carbon is essential for enhancing soil quality, sustaining and improving food production, maintaining clean water, reducing CO2 in the atmosphere and an effective soil quality indicator. Its concentration influences physical, chemical and biological qualities of soils, quality and quantity of biological produce. (SOC) is the predominant parameter that affects other physical, chemical, and biological properties of soils. Cultivation generally depletes one third to half SOC, depending upon soil texture, erosion, and vegetative cover, management regime, initial concentration, period of fallowing and inorganic carbon accumulation. Available phosphorus and potassium were reported to increase with the stability of organic carbon and vice versa. Sodium adsorption on clay complex increased with SOC depletion.

Moisture conservation enhances soil organic carbon by increasing period of vegetative cover, vegetative input to the soils and microbial population. This altogether leads to increase water stable aggregates that offer protection mechanism for longer residence time to soil organic carbon. Adoption of agroforestry system of land use combining agriculture, forestry, horticulture, livestock management and agrostology increases total productivity of food, feed and fuel and thereby reducing the risk of farming besides improving soil carbon sequestration. Adoption of targeted yield approach provides the scientific basis for balanced fertilization not only between the fertilizer nutrients themselves but also that with the soil available nutrients for sustaining soil health. Further, region-specific amalgamated technological prescriptions refined with targeted policy analysis are required for effective implementation and obtaining positive outcomes within a finite time horizon.

 Audience Take Away:

  • The presentation deals with soil management strategies for addressing dual issue of climate chage and food/nutritional security
  • The presentation will focus on practical aspects of addressing the dual issues.
  • The presentation will also discuss few success stories.


Executed advanced research on STCR-based nutrient application through drip-fertigation for enhancing yield and quality in dryland regions. Developed GPS/GIS-based soil fertility maps and nutrient plan of 173 districts of India covering 20 states. Developed techniques for in-situ water harvesting through mulching and half-moon terracing in fruit-based multitier farming system under rainfed regions; soil quality index for different cropping systems; bio-amelioration of spatially variable salt affected soil of semiarid region, waste water use in non-food crops in semi-arid region. Developed conservation agriculture strategies for cereal, oilseed and pulse-based systems in semi-arid region. Enumerated carbon sequestration in reclaimed alkali soils and sodic vertisols under horticulture-based, forestry-based, fodder-based and cereal-based systems. The technology commercialization of Mridaparikshak across India generated more than 15% of Soil Health Cards (SHC) under the SHC Scheme of Govt. of India and helped the Institute in earning royalty of Rs. 3.21 crores (2015-2019). Patent Granted: Patent No. 347189 for Portable Soil Testing Kit for Agricultural and Horticultural Crops. Patent Published: No. 2522/DEL/2015 for Device and method for Measurement of soil health parameters and fertilizer recommendation, published in The Patent Office Journal No. 42/2017 Dated 17/02/2017. Executed 21 projects including 5 Externally funded, 5 Contractual and 2 Consultancy projects as PI. As Project Coordinator (STCR), emphasised and encouraged the Scientists on the creation of Inter-disciplinary programmes and mobilization of external funding in the frontier areas of research and created advanced facilities. Created new infrastructure as Project Coordinator (STCR) for soil test crop response studies in 21 Universities and 4 ICAR Research Institute. As Chairman, IPC, ICAR-IISS, Bhopal, helped in development of three new laboratories, namely Nano-tech Lab, Soil Biodiversity Lab and Soil and Produce Quality Lab. Forty externally funded projects processed as Chairman, Consultancy Processing Cell of ICAR-IISS, Bhopal mobilising more than 32 crores. Capacity building was given impetus by organizing 217 capacity building programme cum field days benefiting 12047 tribal farmers. More than 6000 FLDs were also conducted under different agro-ecological sub-regions to demonstrate beneficial effect of STCR-based nutrient management. Delivered 14 TV talks (Doordarshan & ETV) and 10 Radio talks (All India Radio) for extending technologies to farmers. Providing Scientific Leadership to various Institutions/Societies viz., Lead, Biome Expert Group on Dryland, Ecosystem Services Partnership (IUCN), Netherlands; Member of NICRA Review Team for KVKs; National Steering Committee Member of GIZ Pro Soil Project, Germany; Member Secretary, National Level Committee of Soil Health Mission formed by Honourable Secretary, DARE and DG, ICAR; Editor, Journal of Soil Salinity and Water Quality; Editorial Board of Springer-International Journal of Plant Production; Vice President, Indian Society of Soil Science, New Delhi (2020-2021); Vice President, Indian Society of Agro Physics (2014-2016); Adjunct Professor, UBKV, Cooch Behar; Member Secretary, RAC, ICAR-CSSRI (2010-12) and ICAR-IISS, Bhopal (2014-17); Member, IMC of ICAR-CSSRI, Karnal (2015-18) and ICAR-CCARI, Goa (2017-20); Member Secretary, IRC of ICAR-CSSRI, Karnal. Developed CSSRI Vision-2030; designated SAARC Focal Point Expert of IPNS; reviewer of Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council, UK. Visited 5 countries, viz., Australia (2006), USA (2010), Kenya (2016, 2017, 2019), Bangladesh (2017) and Germany (2017). Contributed more than 400 publications including 124 research papers, 14 books, 30 book chapters, 33 technical bulletins, 94 extension bulletins; 98 popular articles and other publications with major emphasis in soil and crop production sustainability. Salient awards and honours include two Gold Medals from IARI, six scholarship/fellowships and 40 professional honours/recognition. Fellow of West Bengal Academy of Science and Technology, Kolkata; Fellow of Indian Society of Soil Salinity and Water Quality, Karnal; Fellow of Indian Academy of Horticultural Sciences, New Delhi; recipient of 12th International Congress Commemoration Award of Indian Society of Soil Science; delivered 7th Dr. B. Ramamoorthy Memorial Lecture, instituted by TNAU, Coimbatore; Soil Science Expert of Knowledge Exchange programme in Kenya towards soil conservation and rehabilitation study visit sponsored by GIZ, Germany. Recipient of Social Innovator Award by the World Bank (UN) for sustained commitment and fostering a culture of research-led performance by bringing critical international scholarship on social justice.

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