Rattan Lal is a soil scientist. His work focuses on regenerative agriculture through which soil can help resolve global issues such as climate change, food security and water quality.
He was awarded the 2019 Japan Prize for the sustainable soil management for global food security and mitigation of climate change.
On June 11, 2020, Professor Lal was named the recipient of the prestigious World Food Prize-2020. His research diverged from the conventional 1970s soil fertility strategy of heavy reliance on commercial fertilizers. His research led a better understanding of how no-till farming, cover crops, crop residues, mulching, and agroforestry can restore degraded soils, increasing organic matter by sequestering atmospheric carbon in the soil, and help combat rising carbon dioxide levels in the air.
Lal worked as a Senior Research Fellow with the University of Sydney from 1968-69, and then as a Soil Physicist at IITA, Ibadan, Nigeria, from 1970 to 1987. In 1987 he returned to Ohio State University, where as of 2019 he was a Distinguished University Professor of Soil Science and Director of the Carbon Management and Sequestration Center.
Lal served as President of the International Union of Soil Science for the 2017-2018 period.