Tuesday, 11 July 2006 - 11:45 AM

Historic Interactions between the U.S. and Chinese Soil Scientists on Modern Soil Science Development in China.

Ming Chen, Everglades Research and Education Center, Univ of Florida, 3200 E. Palm Beach Road, Belle Glade, FL 33430-8003 and H. H. Cheng, Soil, Water, and Climate Dept, Univ of Minnesota, 439 Borlaug Hall, 1991 Upper Buford Circle, St. Paul, MN 55108.

Although China has had thousands of years of experience in crop production and has accumulated a wealth of indigenous knowledge on soil management and fertilization practices for restoring and maintaining soil productivity, the development of modern soil science in China has always been international in nature. From the early twentieth century, students from China have studied soil science abroad and many soil scientists from all over the world have worked on projects in China. Perhaps some of the most noteworthy interactions have involved the U. S. and Chinese scientists. This presentation will review several such interactions and the life history and professional activities of a number of prominent soil scientists involved in these interactions and their subsequent influence on the development of soil science in China today. Mr. T. Y. Tang was likely the first Chinese soil scientist trained in the U. S., when he studied with Professor Emil Truog of the Soil Science Department at the University of Wisconsin, Madison from 1910 to 1914. Mr. N. F. Zhang also studied with Prof. Truog years later in 1931 and then returned to Nanjing to initiate the first nation-wide fertilization program in China. Perhaps the most notable collaboration between the U.S. and Chinese scientists was the national soil survey program conducted in China in the 1930s. In 1930, Dr. Charles F. Shaw, a soils professor from the University of California - Berkley, published his remarkable book entitled “The Soils of China” during his sabbatical leave at the Nanjing University in China. During 1931-1932, the national soil survey team was organized under the Geological Survey Institute of the National Commission for Natural Resources Survey in Beijing by Dr. W. H. Wong. Dr. R. L. Pendleton, a graduate of the University of California and then professor at the University of Philippines, was invited to China to supervise the national soil program. In 1933, Dr. James Thorp of the USDA Bureau of Chemistry and Soils was sent by Curtis F. Marbut to China to replace Pendleton in supervising the national soil survey program. Although Marbut died in China during his instructional visit in 1935, his soil classification approach laid the foundation for soil classification in China by Chinese soil scientists for the next two decades. The collaborative effort of Dr. Thorp and his eight assistants, including K. C. Hou, T. Y. Cschau, L. C. Li, Y. Hseung, E. F. Chen, L. T. Chu, C. K. Li, and Y. T. Ma resulted in the massive publication by Thorp entitled: “The Geography of the Soils of China” (1936). These Chinese soil scientists as well as a number of others who were educated at U.S. universities in the 1930s and 1940s were prominent in providing leadership in establishing soil science research institutions and shaping the modern development of soil science in China. Interactions with the U.S. were interrupted from 1950 to the end of the 1970's, but interactions between soil scientists on mainland China and the former Soviet Union increased. The rapid growth in soil science research and education from 1979 onward, however, has been influenced by the increasing interactions of Chinese scientists not only with scientists in the U.S., but also with those in Russia and other European countries. Today, the tradition of international collaboration in soil science between Chinese soil scientists and those from all over the world continues to flourish.

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