2012 Lecturer | Dr. Henry Janzen

About the Lecturer

Henry Janzen is a research scientist in soil biochemistry with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at Lethbridge, Alberta. He has studied the flows of carbon and nitrogen in agricultural ecosystems, especially their links to global cycles and long-term changes in the biosphere. An important focus has been finding ways of storing more carbon and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in these ecosystems as a way of mitigating climate change.

In this work, he has been active in various national and international ventures, including assignments with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). More recently, he has expanded this perspective to encompass also related issues such as food security and other benefits derived from land. Henry is a Fellow of the Canadian Society of Soil Science and a Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America.

Henry was the lead author of the seminal article “Global Prospects Rooted in Soil Science” (Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 75:1–8, 2011). From the abstract: The biosphere, our fragile and exquisite home, is changing abruptly and irrevocably, largely from human interference. Most or all of the coming stresses have links to the land, so finding hopeful outcomes depend on wide and deep understanding of soils.

In this review, we pose eight urgent issues confronting humanity in coming decades: demands for food, water, nutrients, and energy; and challenges of climate change, biodiversity, “waste” reuse, and global equity. We then suggest some steps soil scientists might take to address these questions: a refocusing of research, a broadening of vision, a renewed enticement of emerging scientists, and more lucid telling of past successes and future prospects.

The questions posed and responses posited are incomplete and not yet fully refined. But the conversations they elicit may help direct soil science toward greater relevance in preserving our fragile home on this changing planet.