UNU-FLORES Congratulates Sridhar Patra on Successful Doctoral Defence

  • 2019/09/23     Dresden, Germany

    Image: Anika Reetsch/UNU-FLORES

    On 16 September 2019, the thesis defence of Sridhar Patra came as a conclusion of his PhD journey as part of the Joint PhD Programme in Integrated Management of Water, Soil, and Waste of the United Nations University and Technische Universität Dresden (TU Dresden), implemented in cooperation between UNU-FLORES and the Faculty of Environmental Sciences at TU Dresden.

    Dr Patra completed his dissertation within three years under the joint supervision of Prof. Dr Karl-Heinz Feger (TU Dresden) and Dr Kai Schwärzel (UNU-FLORES). Dr Stefan Julich (TU Dresden) served as a co-supervisor. The candidate graduated with magna cum laude. The thesis defence was evaluated jointly by the dissertation committee led by Prof. Dr Niels Schuetze (TU Dresden) and consisted of Prof. Edeltraud Guenther (Director, UNU-FLORES), Prof. Dr Karl-Heinz Feger, Dr Kai Schwärzel, and Dr Sanatan Pradhan (ICAR-IIWM).

    Coming from India after a decade-long career as a scientist working for ICAR (Indian Institute of Soil and Water Conservation), he took up the PhD programme in October 2016 and successfully defended his thesis entitled “Effect of Conservation Agriculture on Organic Matter Stratification and Hydro-Physical Properties of Soil Under Intensive Cereal-based Cropping Systems”.

    Image: Stacey Roden/UNU-FLORES

    In his dissertation project, Dr Patra studied the potential of conservation agriculture in reversing soil degradation induced by intensive tillage. His study area was the Indo-Gangetic Plains of India, which is one of the world’s most intensive and environmentally sensitive agro-ecosystems.

    When based on intensive tillage practices, agricultural intensification can have negative impacts on soil quality. This in turn causes falling crop yields and soil erosion. Combined with the risks posed by climate change, an alternative paradigm is needed to ensure agriculture that is both ecologically sustainable and profitable in the long run.

    In his journal publications, Dr Patra quantified the long-term impact of various conservation agriculture practices on soil organic matter storage and soil hydraulic properties and their implication on the agro-ecosystem functions of the region under study.

    During the Q&A section, an issue raised was on how transferrable the research was. According to Dr Patra, “As long as the correct conditions are met, the treatments suggested by his study can be used.”

    The joint degree certificate from both UNU and TU Dresden is awarded to the PhD candidate, who in addition to the research work, also successfully completes the coursework on the basic concepts of the Water-Soil-Waste Nexus.

    Further Reading

    Patra, Sridhar, Stefan Julich, Karl-Heinz Feger, Mangi Lal Jat, P. C. Sharma, and Kai Schwärzel. 2019. “Effect of Conservation Agriculture on Stratification of Soil Organic Matter Under Cereal-Based Cropping Systems”. Archives of Agronomy and Soil Science.

    Patra, Sridhar, Stefan Julich, Karl-Heinz Feger, Mangi Lal Jat, Hanuman Jat, Parbodh Chander Sharma, and Kai Schwärzel. 2019. “Soil Hydraulic Response to Conservation Agriculture Under Irrigated Intensive Cereal-Based Cropping Systems in a Semiarid Climate”. Soil and Tillage Research 192: 151–163.