Pran Nath Takkar obtained MSc (Agriculture, Soil Science) (1962) from Punjab University, Chandigarh under the guidance of Dr JS Kanwar and PhD (Soil Science) (1966) from Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana under the supervision of Dr DR Bhumbla. He worked as Norad Postdoctorate Fellow with Professor J Lag at the Institute of Soil Science, Agricultural University, Norway (1967-70), Ministry of Agriculture, Ireland Postdoctorate Fellow with Dr Phill Moss at Division of Soils, Johnstown Castle, Ireland (1970) and Alexander von Humbold Fellow with Professor Bernard Ulrich, Institute of Soil Science and Forest Nutrition, University of Gottingen, Germany (1980-82). After returning to India, he was Soil Chemist, (1972-76), Senior Scientist (1976-88), Incharge ICAR Coordinated Scheme of Micronutrients in Soils and Plants, also Project Coordinator of the ICAR-AICRP on Micronutrients (1984-88), all at PAU; Founder Director, ICAR-Indian Institute of Soil Science (IISS), Bhopal (1988-98); Principal Scientist, Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi (1998-2000); and ICAR-Emeritus Scientist(2001-03), INSA Senior Scientist (2003-08), INSA Honorary Scientist 2009-2016).
Academic and Research Achievements: In Norway, Takkar modified the X-ray method of semi-quantitative clay mineral estimation of Odd Gems and identified clay minerals in soils. In Germany, he developed method of CO2 (aq.) estimation in soil solution and its role in acidification processes in forest ecosystems under the impact of acid rains. While at PAU, he initiated new teaching and research programs on micronutrients in soils and plants. He discovered field scale deficiencies: of S in tea soils, of Zn, Mn, and Fe in diverse soils-crops and cropping systems and developed better diagnostic methods of identifying their deficiency. He identified major factors and processes of transformations and availability of S, Zn, Mn and Fe in soils and plants that help in the development of sound scientific practices of their management in sustaining high agricultural productivity. Also discovered field scale Se toxicity. He mentored eight MSc and three PhD students at PAU. While at IISS, he developed integrated N, P, S and Zn management practices for sustainable high productivity of soybean-wheat system on vertisols. At IARI, he did research on Co, Zn and clay mineral transformation under rice-based cropping systems. He authored over 180 research articles, review papers, chapters in books, and was coauthor of the book: Nutritional Disorder in Grain Sorghum (ACIAR, Australia) and its Hindi version (ICAR, New Delhi).
Other Contributions: As founder Director of IISS, Bhopal, Takkar developed excellent research infrastructure facilities. He has been Member, Board of Trustees, International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), India. Chairman, Consortium Advisory Committee, ICAR-NAIP Project on micronutrients (2009-14), Member Expert Committee, "Conservation Agriculture and Climate Change, Water Quality and Productivity, Micronutrients and their use efficiency, minimization of agricultural waste and maintenance of product quality? ICAR-National Agricultural Science Fund. Member INSA Sectional Committee- XII Agricultural Sciences (Thrice), and Member Advisory Committee for Science Promotion (Twice)
Awards and Honours: Professor Takkar received the Hari OM Ashram Trust Award by ICAR, 12th International Congress Commemoration, Platinum Jubilee and Golden Jubilee Commemoration awards of Indian Society of Soil Science, Lifetime Achievement Award on Micronutrients of SN Ranade Memorial Trust, Outstanding Teacher Award of PAU, and FAI Silver Jubilee Award of Excellence. He was elected Fellow of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, New Delhi (1991) and Indian Society of Soil Science (1988).