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E. I. Pankova and V. O. Targulyan Soil Institute named after V.V. Dokuchaeva RAAS

Fadey T. Sargsyan, Aleksey Matveyevich Kirakosyan, Minister of Agriculture of Armenia, Petrosyan Gevorg Grantovich

    The 20th century is gone, but I would like to believe that the memory of soil scientists who left their mark on Soviet soil science of the 20th century will be preserved in the history of soil science. One of the outstanding personalities of soil science in the second half of the 20th century was Grant Petrovich Petrosyan (1923-1987), who would have turned 80 in 2003. G.P. Petrosyan was born in 1923 in a family of employees. In 1941, without graduating from school, he joined the Soviet Army and, after graduating from an aviation school, became a fighter pilot. After demobilization in 1947, he entered the Armenian Agricultural Institute, from which he graduated in 1952. In 1954 he entered graduate school and in 1958 he defended his PhD thesis.


    From 1958 until his death in 1983 G.P. Petrosyan worked as the director of the Research Institute of Soil Science and Agrochemistry of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Armenian SSR. For 25 years, he managed to create not only a creatively working scientific team of the institute, but also a powerful and versatile scientific and industrial and, moreover, cost-effective base in the form of a network of hospitals, experimental fields, orchards and vineyards. Under his leadership, the institute developed various problems of soil science and agrochemistry (genesis, geography and classification of soils in Armenia, soil erosion, biochemistry and microbiology of soils, agricultural production and agrochemical characteristics of soils, etc.). But, of course, the center of the institute's activity, which brought it all-Union and world fame, was comprehensive work on the genesis, reclamation and efficient use of soda solonetzes and solonchaks of the Ararat plain, where the main agricultural fund of Armenia is located.


    The main limiting factor of soil fertility in the Ararat Plain is the process of soda salinization and solonetzization of hydromorphic soils. The problem of salinization and reclamation of saline soils in Armenia was devoted to the work of the Institute staff and personally Grant Petrovich Petrosyan. He, together with the staff of the Institute, developed a technology for chemical reclamation of soda-saline soils (including the acidification method). A manual on the chemical reclamation of soda solonetzes-salt marshes of the Ararat Plain of the Armenian SSR was created and implemented. Under the leadership of G.P. Petrosyan developed a farming system and a technology for cultivating crops on reclaimed soils, developed the problem of rational use of reclaimed lands in conditions of fresh water deficiency, determined rational irrigation regimes and irrigation techniques. Particular attention was paid to determining the possibility of growing various crops, including fruits, grapes, cereals, melons, herbs and others on reclaimed lands. The salt tolerance of various crops was taken into account and determined. Grant Petrovich tried to introduce new research methods. It was he who was the first in the Soviet Union to introduce the method of land planning based on data obtained using laser equipment; the method of automated bilateral regulation of the water regime of soils was applied; tested and implemented automated processes for managing irrigation systems; sprinkling irrigation method in Armenia.

For the first time in the country, he created a zonal agrochemical laboratory, equipped with first-class equipment and designed for mass agrochemical analyzes.


   G.P. Petrosyan had the talent of an organizer and propagandist of soil science, able not only to see the rational grain in scientific developments, but also to introduce them into production. On the initiative of Grant Petrovich, a reclamation station was created at the Institute of Soil Science and Agrochemistry, at which the scientific developments of the institute were tested. Thanks to the activities of Grant Petrovich, the work of the institute and its reclamation station were widely known not only among soil scientists in the Soviet Union, but also abroad.


    In the 60-70s, representatives of more than 80 countries of the world got acquainted with the work of the Institute in the field of amelioration of soda-saline soils, and the method of amelioration of soda solonchaks by acidification was recognized worldwide as a pioneering achievement of Soviet soil science. On the initiative of Grant Petrovich, in 1967, an international conference on the amelioration of soda-saline soils was held on the basis of the institute. A collection of reports by Soviet and foreign soil scientists dealing with this problem has been published. This valuable work is still a source of useful information for soil scientists. G.P. Petrosyan sought to ensure that the achievements of soil scientists in Armenia became known to the world community of soil scientists. He has published more than 150 scientific papers devoted to the problems of soil science, land reclamation and agrochemistry.


   On the basis of the Institute of G.P. Petrosyan annually held international courses on saline soil reclamation. The works of the institute were highly appreciated at international exhibitions in Los Angeles, Zagreb, Belgrade, Montreal, Delhi, Leipzig, Bratislava. At international congresses, he was always surrounded by foreign colleagues, friends and students who highly appreciated him as an outstanding scientist and practitioner in the field of saline soil reclamation.


    Grant Petrovich Petrosyan was known to soil scientists throughout the Soviet Union. He was a passionate, ardent, open and courageous scientist and man, an uncompromising fighter against all show and bureaucracy. Many remember his harsh criticism

speeches at meetings of the GP after international congresses of soil scientists, where he attacked with absolutely impartiality the humiliating practice of Soviet scientists traveling abroad with negligible money, with the inability to participate in scientific excursions, with strict prohibitions on communication with emigrant scientists living in the United States and Israel, who quite naturally they were drawn to old friends and colleagues from the USSR.


For many years G.P. Petrosyan was vice-president of the All-Union Society of Soil Scientists and chairman of the Armenian branch of the GP, a member of the plenum of the scientific and technical society of agriculture of the USSR and a number of scientific councils and sections of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and the Armenian SSR, VASKhNIL and other organizations of soil science. He headed the Armenian branch of the Friendship Society of the Peoples of the USSR - Cuba and supervised the work of Soviet specialists in Cuba. For his active work in Cuba, Grant Petrovich was awarded the Big Gold Medal of the Academy of Sciences of Cuba. G.P. Petrosyan was elected an honorary member of the Scientific and Technical Society of Soil Scientists of Czechoslovakia, deputy chairman of the subcommittee of the international society of soil scientists on saline soils. He constantly participated in the international cooperation of scientists, representing Soviet science at congresses and conferences in the USA, Canada, Germany, Egypt, Spain, Libya, Hungary and other countries, and took part in the work of FAO expert commissions.


   G.P. Petrosyan is a bright, talented person, an ardent patriot of Armenia, at the same time a true internationalist scientist, worthily representing Soviet soil science abroad.

The memory of him lives in the soul of all Russian soil scientists who knew him. I really want him to be known and studied by soil scientists of the 21st century.

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