Andre Bationo (Kenya)
Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility CIAT
P. O Box 30677
Position: Soil Scientist and AfNet Coordinator
1. When did you decide to study soil science?
1978 when I started my MSc in soil science at Laval University, Quebec, Canada
2. Who has been your most influential teacher?
Prof. M. P. Cescas, Soil Chemist, Laval University, Quebec, Canada.
3. What do you find most exciting about soil science?
The most exciting about soil science is the possibility to produce more food when we manipulate efficiently this natural resource. I am particularity pleased with the resilience of degraded soil where we are able to grow crops with a judicious manipulation of the physical, chemical and biological properties. It is quite interesting to note that in most cases for the small-scale farmers, soil is the only resource available to them to assure the well being of their families.
4. How would you stimulate teenagers and young graduates to study soil science?
I am using four ways to stimulate teenagers and young graduates to study soil science: Firstly, organizing short-term training courses in different aspects of soil science; secondly, to get the young researchers for 'on the job training' within my own research activities; thirdly, to disseminate information not only for the specialized soil scientists but put in simple language for beginners; fourthly, help the young scientists to develop proposals to get funds for their own research.
5. How do you see the future of soil science?
Problems at the farmers level are very complex and what I see the future of soil science is an holistic approach. There is need to integrate socio-economic and policy components besides technical issues. For example soil fertility can no longer regarded as a simple issue the use of organic and inorganic sources of nutrients,. Integrated soil fertility management embraces responses to the full range of driving factors and consequences, namely biological, physical, chemical, social, economic and policy aspects. The holistic approach encompasses nutrient deficiencies, inappropriate germplasm and cropping system design, pest and diseases interaction with soil fertility, linkage between land degradation, poverty and global policies, incentives as well as institutional failures considerations. Such long term and holistic soil fertility management strategies require an evolutionary and knowledge intensive process, particularly research and development focus rather than purely technical focus.