kstahrSome 123 soil scientists, researchers and practitioners from various universities, colleges, and agencies throughout the country gathered on May 25-27, 2011 at the VSU's Center for Continuing Education and participated in the 14th Philippine Society of Soil Science and Technology, Inc. (PSSST) Annual Meeting and Scientific Conference.


The annual scientific conference was graced by Prof. Dr. Karl Stahr, a renowned international soil scientist and a professor of Soil Science and Petrography at the Institute of Soil Science and Land Evaluation of the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart, Germany. Dr. Stahr elucidated on the theme "Improving Productivity of Marginal Lands through Integrated Soil and Water Management." He also shared the results of their on-going projects regarding the formation, properties and land use of limestone soils in Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos.

A person of authority to speak on matters relative to soil science, the keynote speaker has authored and co-authored hundreds of scientific papers, most of which were published in prestigious peer-reviewed international journals. Dr. Stahr is also an author or co-author of very influential textbooks in soil science for German speaking countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland). One of these books is the classic "Textbook of Soil Science" now on its 16th edition. He is the concurrent chairman of the Division 1 (Soil in Space and Time), one of the four divisions of the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS).

Dr. Jose L. Bacusmo, VSU President, thanked the organizer for choosing VSU as the venue of this year's intellectual discourse. Dr. Bacusmo firmly believed that the occasion tackled relevant issues that would somehow solve some of the challenges in modern day agriculture. "Soil scientists are very useful in generating innovations and breakthroughs in climate change adaptation maximizing the potentials of our available natural resources," the VSU President said.

On the other hand, Hon. Angelo B. Palmones of the AGHAM Party-List, in his message read by his chief of staff, Dr. Florentino Tesoro, narrated the importance of the soil. Hon. Palmones said, that the soil provides the basis for food and fiber production; supports a diversity of plant, animal, and microbial life; regulates nutrient cycles and gas exchange with the atmosphere; and cultures our inner feelings for home, for place, and for renewal of spirit. He even mentioned the challenges confronting soil scientists worldwide as cited by Dr. Sam Fujisaka, a California agricultural anthropologist. These are: 1) Soil scientists will have to work in a more interdisciplinary and holistic context if they are to help solve currently important problems; 2) Soil sciences (and other sciences) must face the issue of "trade-offs" which arise from the opposing needs to exploit soil and other resources in ways which benefit individuals and society; 3) Soil science needs to address issues that are important rather than those that are merely interesting; and 4) Soil scientists may have to become more "activist". Hon. Palmones is also a strong supporter and advocate for the protection and conservation of the environment and natural resources. Other initiatives spearheaded by Cong. Palmones include: Science Library in each province, school rooms, BS Meteorology offering in which VSU is one of the four state universities in the country that will offer the program, 10 scholarship slots for VSU students taking BS in Agriculture major in Soil Science, and financial support for the Technology Business Incubator (TBI).

Other papers presented during the plenary session were "Challenges to Sustainable Crop Production" by Dr. Gamini Keerthisinghe, Principal Regional Coordinator of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR); and "Integrated Soil Nutrient Management" by Dr. Cesar P. Mamaril, Senior Consulting Expert in Soils and Agronomy of PhilRice.

Likewise, four research papers presented by some VSU alumni garnered awards in the technical sessions. In the Junior Researcher Category, the undergraduate thesis of Mr. Randy G. Enderes entitled "Effects of Poultry Litter Char, Azospirillum sp. and Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi on Growth and Nitrogen Uptake of Corn Grown in Strongly Acidic Soil" won the first prize. While the study on the "Growth and Yield Response of Sweetpotato Cultivars to Various Levels of Soil Compaction" by Ariel B. Bolledo won the second place. Moreover, in the Senior Researcher Category, the paper of Mr. Reynaldo L. Lanuza entitled "Geospatial Modeling of Soil Erosion in Buhisan Watershed Forest Reserve, Cebu City, Philippines: Model Application and Validation" garnered the first place. Dr. Ian A. Navarrete and Dr. Victor B. Asio's research on "Geochemistry, Mineralogy, and Organic Carbon in Soils from Late Quaternary Sedimentary Rock in Leyte, Philippines" won the third place.

All winners in both categories received certificates and cash awards from the organizer. The yearly gathering was spearheaded by the PSSST under the leadership of Ms. Constancia G. Mangao, PSSST President, with the end in view of promoting the advancement of soil science and technology in the country, and providing a venue for sharing and exchanging knowledge and ideas. It was co-sponsored by the Visayas State University, the Australian Government through the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, the An Waray Party-List through Hon. Florencio G. Noel, the AGHAM Party-List through Hon. Angelo B. Palmones, and the Local Government of the City of Baybay through Hon. Carmen L. Cari. The VSU local organizer is headed by Dr. Victor B. Asio, a soil scientist and dean of the College of Agriculture.

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