Chapter 2.1 – Tenets of Soil and Landscape Restoration

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By Rattan Lal, Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA


The global issues facing the 21st century (e.g., food security, climate change, biodiversity, water quality, tropical deforestation, and poverty) can be addressed through soil and landscape restoration, which are essential for humans to live in symbiotic harmony with nature. Soil and landscape restoration are essential to strengthening ecosystem functions and services. The basic principles of landscape restoration include controlling soil erosion, reducing losses of water and nutrients, sequestering carbon, strengthening biogeochemical cycles, managing soil pH and salt balance, enhancing biocomplexity, and creating disease-suppressive soil. The technologies for landscape restoration must include implementation of soil restoration at the landscape level, harmonization of ecological effects with current and future population and social changes, and utilization of traditional knowledge. Establishing vegetation cover, managing water judiciously, recycling plant nutrients, and creating balanced plant nutrition are important to landscape restoration. Long-term planning is essential to the sustainable use of finite resources and provisioning of basic ecosystem services. Soil organic carbon concentration and quality are important to landscape restoration and ecosystem functions. Enhancing organic carbon concentration in the soil to above the threshold/critical level of 1.1%–2% in the root zone is needed to improve soil quality. This chapter considers the importance of the soil organic carbon pool to soil quality and outlines principles and strategies of soil and landscape restoration.

Download the full chapter at ScienceDirect.

Further information

About Rattan Lal

Rattan Lal is a professor of soil physics in the School of Environment and Natural Resources, and Director of the Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, FAES/OARDC at The Ohio State University (OSU).

From 1968 to 1969 he was Senior Research Fellow at the University of Sydney and soil scientist at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, Nigeria from 1970 to 1987. In 1987 he joined the faculty at OSU.

He is recipient of an honorary degree of Doctor of Science from Punjab Agricultural University, India and of the Norwegian University of life Sciences in Aas, Norway.  He is past president of the World Association of the Soil and Water Conservation (1987-1990), the International Soil Tillage Research Organization (1988-1991), and the Soil Science Society of America (2005-2008). He is a member of the U.S. National Committee on Soil Science of the National Academy of Sciences (1998-2002) and (2007-to date) and lead author of IPCC (1998-2000) which earned him the Nobel Peace Prize Certificate.  He has served on the Panel on Sustainable Agriculture and the Environment in the Humid Tropics of the National Academy of Sciences, and has also been a consultant to FAO, World Bank, UNEP, GEF, UNDP, USAID and many other international organizations. He was Scientific Liaison Officer of USAID for the CGIAR system from 1990 to 1995, and member of the review team of all CRSPs in 1994.

He has mentored 85 graduate students and 80 postdoctoral researchers. He has hosted about 25 short term trainees/visiting scholars from India.  He has authored and co-authored about 1375 research publications, has written 13 books and edited or co-edited 43 books.

He earned B.Sc from Punjab Agric. University, his M.Sc from IARI and Ph.D from OSU.

Connect with Prof. Lal.

Read Prof. Rattan Lal’s presentation at Caux Dialogue on Land and Security 2013, titled “The Trilemma of Soil Degradation”.

Watch Prof. Rattan Lal explain the importance of Soil Security at United States Studies Center (on YouTube).
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