Gurcharan Singh Sekhon did his BSc (Hons) in Agriculture from Delhi University and Associateship from Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi after which he joined the State Department of Agriculture, Pepsu & Punjab (now Punjab). Thereafter, he studied at the Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, USA (1959-62) availing Rockefeller Foundation fellowship, and obtained PhD under the supervision of Professor CA Black.
Academic and Research Achievements: After returning to India, Sekhon joined the College of Agriculture, Hissar, and then worked at Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana for 15 years. His studies established necessity of water soluble phosphorus in carriers of fertilizer phosphorus for alkaline soils of Punjab. He was able to draw attention to the leaching of `nitrogen’ and other water soluble components of fertilizers depending upon `soil texture’, balanced nature of fertilizer carriers and management practices. He pointed out the need for clear cut deficiency of native potassium as a guiding star for the need of imported fertilizer potassium in fertilizer practices of the country.
Other Contributions: Sekhon’s concerted field work in selected villages identified reasons for non-adoption of technology to reclaim salt affected soils. The work resulted in starting the Reclamation Corporation to reclaim 90-95% salt affected soils which would be the best land mass to raise paddy in the Punjab, preserving the economy of ground water and ecology.
Awards and Honours: Professor Sekhon was awarded the first Potash Prize of Indian Society of Soil Science; Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Memorial Prize in Agricultural Sciences for work on Water-Solubility of Fertilizer Phosphorus; VASVIK Award; and Life Time Achievement Award for work on Potassium by International Potash Institute, Switzerland. He was elected Fellow of the Indian Society of Soil Science, Indian Society of Agronomy and National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, New Delhi. He was also President of Indian Society of Soil Science, and chaired the Commission of International Society of Soil Science and a session of American Potash Institute at their Golden Jubilee in Atlanta, USA.