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South Centers

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Soil, Water and Bioenergy research and education collaboration across continents

By Dr Rafiq Islam, Soil, Water, and BioEnergy Program Director 
Over the years, the Soil, Water and Bioenergy Resources Program at the Ohio State University South Centers has developed widespread research and educational collaboration with different countries in the world. Currently, three new visiting scholars joined the Soil, Water and Bioenergy resources Program. They are: Gai Zhjia (Peter) from China, Dr. Natalia Didenko from Ukraine, and Dr. Botir Haitov from Uzbekistan.

Peter is a short-term visiting scientist from the Chinese Heilongjiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences – Jiamusi Branch who is working on sustainable agricultural management practices to improve soil health for economic crop production with enhanced ecosystem services. Peter is the second intern to come to the OSU South Centers for a two-month training period from the Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Agricultural Sciences – Jiamusi Branch.


Natalia is a Norman Borlaug short-term post-doctoral visiting fellow from Ukraine. Currently, she is working as a Scientific Researcher, Institute of Water Problems and Land Reclamation, Kyiv, Ukraine. Her current research focuses on soil compaction, soil quality, and water management related to climate-smart agricultural practices. At Ohio State University, she is working on transferring science-based knowledge to adopt sustainable agricultural management practices in Ukraine. The science-based knowledge and research experience she is gaining in the U.S. will be directly applicable to her research interests in Ukrainian agriculture. She is one of the outstanding researchers selected to present her current research at the J-1 Exchange Research Exposition organized by the office of the OSU vice president for research. Recently, she attended the World Food Prize conference in Des Moines, IA. 

Botir is a Fulbright post-doctoral research fellow from Uzbekistan. He is a senior researcher and associate professor in the Plant Science Dept., Tashkent State Agrarian University, Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Current agricultural production systems in Uzbekistan rely heavily on irrigation, excessive tillage, and limited crop rotation approaches which are not functionally efficient for agroecosystem services. Moreover, the threats of climate change are constantly increasing, and its impact on agricultural production in Uzbekistan has already started; therefore, it is crucial for us to start acting now. The goal of his Fulbright research fellowship is to study the long-term effects of continuous NT with multi-functional cover crops in a wheat-corn-soybean rotation for enhanced agroecosystem services including cover crops biomass nutrient contribution, soil bio-diversity, soil C sequestration, compaction alleviation, and soil health and farm productivity.