5 Questions to a soil scientist
Address: University of Aukurova, Departments of Soil Science and Archaeometry,
01330, Balcali, Adana (Turkey)
Position: Professor in the Soil Science Department and Chairman of the Department of Archaeometry
1. When did you decide to study soil science?
As a boy, it was my great lust to play with the mud of the Ankara Clay and wonder why it was that sticky when wet and extra firm when dry as well as being so red-something which still stirs my curiosity. And later it was the second and third 5-year Development Plans of the country, which were mainly concerned with agriculture and primarily with the preparation of the reconnaissance soil maps of Turkey with all foreign aid poring over to soil survey. This was the moment for a life-time decision, it was the mud in the hand and the cash in the pocket.
2. Who has been your most influential teacher?
The star of my ideals in Soil Science has always been my dear teacher Dr. E. A. FitzPatrick (with a capital 'P'). He gave me a tool to lead me in my difficult days that were followed by great satisfaction in the visual world of soils. I later had the opportunity to add to my knowledge from the FitzPatrick School of Thought some highly valuable knowledge from Dr. A. Jongerius (STIBOKA) on soil structure and its significance in soil quality. Dr. Hari Eswaran was the hard teacher who tried in vain to teach me how to make use of what I had learned up to now.
3. What do you find most exciting about soil science?
I have found with time, that with our basic background in soil science and conceptual approach we micromorphologists have obtained in the course of studying all visual properties of soils, we managed to attain a quality in interpreting all microstructural phenomena in a variety of materials from bones to ceramics and from sediments to concrete. This I find highly challenging for the sake of developing the integrated scientific media that would bring together many disciplines in interpreting processes related to changes soils and/or materials encounter. Combating Land Degradation and Desertification is another upcoming topic with a unique impetus in environmental management, which is based on soil security.
4. How would you stimulate teenagers and young graduates to study soil science?
I would encourage the relevant Ministries and the Universities in the country together with TEMA (The Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion, for Reforestation and the Protection of Natural Habitats) to develop educational programs as field trips as well as periodic camps for the youth to learn more on soil science. TEMA has already devoted numerous programs for youths throughout Turkey together with the relevant bodies, which can be good examples to other countries. Among these the ones concerning the amalgamated education of the farmers and the representatives of the youth are of high merit.
5. How do you see the future of Soil Science?
I am highly optimistic in regard of the lead soil science has taken to promote the determination of the indicators of land degradation and desertification and modes of implementation by numerous bodies through international meetings and training. However the peak of the impact foreseen via soil science would be the widespread integration of the components of soil and crop quality to the agendas of the leading world establishments that are fighting land degradation.