Zueng-Sang Chen (Taiwan)
Address: Department of Agricultural Chemistry, National Taiwan University . 1, Sect. 4th, Roosevelt Rd., Taipei 10617 , Taiwan .
Position: Distinguished Professor of pedology and soil environmental quality, and Associate Dean of College of Bioresources and Agriculture, National Taiwan University (since August, 2007)
1. When did you decide to study soil science?
While I was taking the course on 'Soil morphology, genesis and soil classification' at the PhD program of Department of Agricultural Chemistry, National Taiwan University in 1980, I did a summer project to make a soil survey and soil mapping in the hill land of Eastern Taiwan , I do understand the meaning of soil function in different landscapes and watersheds. I continued making the soil survey and studies on the forest soils of coniferous vegetation in Taiwan for next years, it promoted my interesting on the field of pedology and forest ecosystem.
2. Who has been your most influential teacher?
In 1986, I met Dr. Hari Eswaran, Director of Soil Management Support Service (SMSS) of USAID at that time, who gave me the opportunity to attend an intensive training course on the soil morphology and classification in the Philippines . After that, he always give me many ideas and experience on how to study the soil genesis and how to solve the problems on soil classification. He and I joined together about 10 times on the international workshops to attend the field study tours for more than 300 soil pedons located at the Asian countries, Canada and United Sates during 1986-2000. The most influential concept from him on pedology is how to make an interpretation, prediction and assessment on the soil formation, soil function and soil quality under landscape and also how to protect the soil resources to avoid the land degradation.
3. What do you find most exciting about soil science?
As we know, soil is a natural body and a complicated system which we can observe and make a model prediction at different scales. In an agricultural ecosystem, we can predict and understand the nutrient dynamics and cycling by a monitoring project and a simulation model under landscape or watershed scale. I have involved in some projects related to agricultural production in watershed scale or natural forest ecosystem to monitoring the nutrient budget and dynamics in Taiwan . What most exciting me is how to make a good prediction and to make a sustainable soil and nutrient management strategies in a watershed scale. The other exciting thing for me is by using the soil amendment materials or phytoremediation technique to clean up the metals-contaminated soils to recover the soil function. The techniques of biogeochemical process need more efforts by combined monitoring data, soil survey report and developing models for a better understand on the dynamics of nutrient or pollutants in soil system in the future.
4. How would you stimulate teenagers and young graduates to study soil science?
I try to show something for them. The first one is to create soil museum in the land which they can see and touch during some student activities in the university campus or we try to make a demonstration of different soil monoliths in the extension center of agricultural experimental station. We have prepared more than 200 soil monoliths for their visiting. The second one is to organize the field study tour for them by auger to find the secret by observing the soil morphology during they study in the landscape. The third one is to show the different CD-ROM including soil profile pictures of the major soil groups or soil order of the world and also including soil profile pictures collected from different soil monolith centers established in Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, New Zealand, and China. I find that they are very enjoyable to see these pictures as a computer game they like.
5. How do you see the future of soil science?
Everybody knows that soil resource is the most important and should be protected. We must develop some strategies and technologies to avoid the soil degradation for the sustainable agriculture. Some government agencies of the Asia countries have this policy to produce healthy and safety agricultural products by maintain the good soil and water quality, including the budget and technologies for protection and remediation the degraded soils. We are afraid of some soil scientists have shifted to the field on environmental sciences, not only for the interesting to study new fields related to soil, crop and environmental quality, but also for the requirement of budget. The older soil scientists have the challenge to compete with the senior scientists by learning more new knowledge to maintain their performance activities in the future.