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Scientists at the National Rice Research Institute (NRRI), Cuttack, have won two awards of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar announced awards in various categories on Friday in a virtual ceremony to mark the 93rd foundation day of the ICAR, an organisation under the Ministry of Agriculture.

A K Nayak, principal scientist, and his team members from National Rice Research Institute have been awarded Nanaji Deshmukh Award For Outstanding Interdisciplinary Team Research in Agricultural and Allied Sciences, 2020.

The award is instituted to recognise and incentivise outstanding interdisciplinary team research, the ICAR said.

Nayak's team took a multidisciplinary approach involving soil science, agricultural physics, agricultural microbiology and plant breeding to devise optimum N (nitrogen)-management strategy for rice to identify controlling factors of N-use efficiency of rice, developing efficient genotypes and devising appropriate nutrient management strategy.

The web-based rice crop manager (Odisha) is widely popularised in Odisha for site specific nutrient management, according to the ICAR.

Upendra Kumar, another scientist from the institute, has been awarded the Lal Bahadur Shastri Outstanding Young Scientist Award, 2020, in the category of natural resource management and agricultural engineering.

Kumar's research strategy is a blend of basic, strategy and applied research works, covering major aspects of soil microbiology, biogeochemical cycles and fertility, particularly under changing climatic scenarios to cater to the problems associated with rice.

This has led to development of novel products like liquid and carrier-based rice-specific bioinoculants for nutrient management, Azolla-based biofertilizer (sporocarp), livestock feed and microbial-growth medium.

Based on these products, the Odisha government has given a grant of Rs 2.84 crore to construct rice-specific liquid biofertilizer, Azolla, BGA and AM fungal production units at the NRRI for the first time.

Kumar has also characterized the microbial resources in relation to nitrogen fixation, nitrification, denitrification and straw-decomposition in rice under varying nutrient and climatic conditions.

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