Inder Pal Abrol obtained BSc (1957) from Punjab University and Post-graduate Diploma from Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi. He was awarded PhD (1962), in the area of soil science and agricultural chemistry. He worked as a Research Fellow (1962-63) with Professor S Ravikovitch in the Department of Soils, Hebrew University, Israel, studying salinity-nutrient interactions and plant growth. On return to India, he joined the newly established Punjab Agricultural University Campus at Hissar as Soil Physicist. In 1969, he was appointed as Head of the Division of Soils and Agronomy at the Central Soil Salinity Research Institute (CSSRI), Karnal and later became its Director (1981-86). He was Deputy Director General in ICAR (1986-95).
Academic and Research Achievements: Dr Abrol's research focused in the area of water management needs of crops in the semi-arid regions where canal irrigation had been brought to bear on agricultural production in the region. His studies were aimed to define water requirement of newly introduced crops like wheat and cotton with regard to irrigation scheduling for optimizing crop yields in relation to edaphic and climatic parameters. He pioneered work on water-relations of soils towards improved management needs of crops. At CSSRI he contributed towards better understanding of the nature of salt affected soils and development of practical approaches and solutions to restoring the productivity of degraded soils for crop and agroforestry systems. His work furnished a better definition of the problem, improved diagnostics, quantification of soil-plant relationship and improved management approaches, which provided a basis for wide scale adoption of technologies at the farm level. He has published over 150 research articles in different national and international journals of repute.
Other Contributions: As Deputy Director General, ICAR, Dr Abrol initiated programme in the area of watershed management, agro-foresty and agro meteorology towards more integrated approach to research for development. He was President, Indian Society of Soil Science (1986-87); President, International Soil Conservation Organization, (1993-94); Chairman, Commission on Salt Affected Soil of International Society of Soil Science (1982-86) and Member, Scientific Committee of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (SC-IGBP) of the ICSU. He has served on the Editorial/Advisory Board of several national and international journals including Soil Science (USA), Soil Use and Management (UK), Land Degradation and Development (UK). Dr Abrol served as an INSA Council Member (1994-96).
Awards and Honours: Dr Abrol is a recipient of several awards and honours including Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Memorial Prize, ICAR (1972-73), Guiness Award for Scientific Achievements, GASA Medal for Service of Community, London (1980), Vasvik Research Award (1989) and Hari Om Ashram Trust Award (1989). He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad and is a Founder Fellow of National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, New Delhi (1990). He was Vice-President, INSA during 2002-04.