Soil is a natural finite resource base which sustains life on earth. Recognizing the importance of soil health, 2015 has been declared as the International Year of Soils by the 68th UN General Assembly. India, the second most populous country needs to increase the total production to cope up with the increasing population. Obviously in this situation, necessity is now felt to make marginal and problem soil areas more suitable for agriculture, by steadily increasing the productivity of problem soils adopting the most effective methods of reclamation and crop production.
Among the low productive soils, saline/ alkaline soils are widespread in arid inland and coastal regions and the extent of salt affected soils in the country is around 6.73 m ha. In Tamil Nadu 4.69 lakh ha area has been affected by different levels of salinity and sodicity. Tiruchirappalli is important district of Tamil Nadu have 11,165 ha of land affected by salinity and sodicity. In Tiruchirappalli district, Manikandam block are affected severely due to sodicity with an area of around 5000 acres. Hence it is essential to study the responses of crops to salinity/ sodicity stresses have been utilized to assess success of different chemical amendments / reclamation packages as well as to know tolerances of newly developed crop varieties for salinity/ sodicity.
With this background a multi-disciplinary research on reclamation and management of sodic and saline soils and salt tolerant crop varieties, this centre was started as Soil Salinity research centre during 1980 and later transformed into college. In this Department, ICAR – Sponsored AICRP project on Management of Salt Affected Soils and Use of Saline Water in Agriculture is in operation since 1995 for developing regional guidelines for use of saline/ alkali water under different agro-climatic regions of Tamil Nadu considering soil type, rainfall and salt tolerance of crops, in addition to the major ion chemistry of water.
Recently, ADAC&RI has also established a Centre of Excellence in sustaining Soil Health with the support of NADP of Government of Tamil Nadu to cater the needs of the farmers, students and stakeholders. The department is offering UG and PG courses for educating the students on different aspects of soil science and Agricultural Chemistry and promoting the research on development of technologies for salt affected soils and problematic water.
Dr. P. Balasubramaniam, Professor and Head, Department of Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry, Anbil Dharmalingam Agricultural College and Research Institute, Trichy has started his career since 1992 in Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore. He has so far handled 34 undergraduate courses and 18 post graduate courses. He has guided 6 M.Sc.(Ag) and one Ph.D students. As principal investigator he has facilitated 12 fellowships to students through externally funded projects. He has published 4 text books and 14 practical manuals. He is serving as Honorary Member – PG Board of Studies in Pondicherry University for the period from 2019 – 2022. He has coordination with other Agricultural Institutions viz., ANGRAU, Guntur; KAU, Trissur; Annamalai University, Chidambaram; Pondicherry University, Pondicherry as external member for setting question paper, thesis evaluation, and selection of faculty. He is participating as a member in Board of Studies (B.Sc. Agriculture) and PG studies from 2013 in TNAU. He has handled 10 externally funded projects with the budget outlay of 160.50 lakhs. He has coordinated in establishing Centre of Excellence on Soil Health at ADAC&RI, Trichy. He has organized training on the Inland Aquaculture with the support of National Fisheries Development Board, Hyderabad and mass reclamation of sodic soils in collaboration with IFFCO. He is life member in ISSS, ISSSWQ, ARRW, ISPRD, ISAC, MASU and ISC. As a Chief Scientist of ICAR-AICRP on management of salt affected soils and use of saline water in Agriculture, he has developed technologies for the effective use of distillery effluent in sodic soil, alternate use of fly ash as a source of Si and K, conjunctive use of canal and alkali water, evaluation of tolerant cultivars of chilly, onion and sorghum for sodicity in addition to assessment of ground water quality. He has published 38 research articles, 5 books/ bulletin and presented 36 conference and seminar papers. He has travelled to Russia, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia for presenting his research works in the various International Conferences. He has received the Best Teacher Award (2008), Best Researcher Award (2009), Best Extension Worker Award (2011) from TNAU and FAI Silver Jubilee Award (2004) from FAI for outstanding doctoral research on fertilizer usage. He has also served as Councillor of Indian Society of Soil Science, New Delhi during 2017-18, Indian Society of Soil Salinity and water quality during 2018-19. He has also been elected as Vice President of Indian Society of Soil Salinity and water quality for the period 2020-21. He has delivered ISSS 12th T. D. Biswas Memorial Lecture during 2018 at SV Agricultural College, Thirupathi.