Distinguished University Professor Rattan Lal recently earned India’s prestigious Padma Shri award for his innovative research and sustainable farming practices that address food insecurity and mitigate climate change. Padma Shri is India’s fourth highest civilian honor and recognizes individuals for their distinguished service in any field.
Lal was recognized in the Science and Engineering category for pioneering a method of farming called soil sequestration, a technique that restores nutrients to the soil by trapping them in the ground. Soil sequestration also prevents carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere, which leads to reduced carbon emissions.
“Dr. Lal’s work significantly impacts the future of the planet because it addresses two critical, global issues—food insecurity and climate change,” said Cathann A. Kress, vice president for agricultural administration and dean of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). “In addition to his research, Dr. Lal has created a legacy by mentoring thousands of Ohio State students. Because of his dedication, the university is poised to influence policy and agricultural practices around the world for years to come.”
In 2020, Lal was awarded the World Food Prize, the highest honor in the field of food and agriculture. In 2019, he was the first soil scientist to earn the Japan Prize for his outstanding achievements in science and technology, and most recently, he was presented the Mahatma Gandhi Award for Environmental Protection by Gandhi’s grandson, Raj Mohan Gandhi.
Despite his many accolades, Lal attributes his success to Ohio State and small farmers.
“I would not have been able to do this work without Ohio State,” Lal said. “This award belongs to them. It also belongs to the farmers who are implementing these practices. I tell them it’s their award. I’m simply receiving it on their behalf.”
Lal’s only regret is that he was unable to travel to India to receive the award from the president of India, who traditionally presents it to honorees, because of COVID-19 restrictions. Lal officially received the award on Aug. 20 during the India Festival.