Frederick Hardy (31st Mar 1889-9th Apr 1977)

Trinidad and Tobago Icons Vol 2

Fredrick Hardy was one of the first scientists in the world to realise the relevance of ecology to agriculture, and he entered the fledgling field of soil science before it was even considered an independent discipline. He conducted soil capability reports for Trinidad and Tobago and a successful Caribbean-wide soil survey. He also educated hundreds of students over three decades and played a major part in establishing the institution that later became the Faculty of Agriculture of The University of the West Indies (UWI).

Fredrick Hardy was born on 31st March, 1889 in England. He attended the Bradford Grammar School and later studied natural sciences at Cambridge University. He taught science and agricultural science in Barbados until 1917 and returned to England during World War I to work as a chemist in H.M. Factory in Oldsbury until 1919.

Hardy returned to Cambridge University and obtained a Diploma in Agriculture in 1920. He served as a chemistry demonstrator at the university’s School of Agriculture before returning to Barbados to work as the Soil Scientist at the Imperial Department of Agriculture. He was then posted to the Government Laboratory in Antigua to continue his work on soils. Hardy left his post at the laboratory in 1922 to lecture in Trinidad at the West Indian Agricultural College, which would later become the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture (ICTA). He served as Professor of Chemistry and Soil Science, and Head of the Department of Chemistry and Soil Science at ICTA for three decades until his retirement in 1954.

During his tenure at ICTA, he revolutionised the scope of research at the organisation. While ICTA focused on projects of global application, Professor Hardy focused on regional issues within the newly formed Regional Research Centre (RRC). Studies were funded by the Commonwealth Development and Welfare Fund and the RRC gained an international reputation for excellence.

Professor Hardy used his ingenuity to overcome lack of resources by conducting simple but important experiments. He wrote a land capability report for Trinidad and Tobago, edited many soil survey reports, and prepared technical guide sheets on land use for Barbados. He also wrote a book-sized review of the work of the Department of Soil Science of UWI covering the first 50 years of its existence. He conducted a Caribbean-wide soil survey and an auxiliary soil research programme, which was noted as the most significant achievement of the RRC and ICTA for many years.

His tremendous output helped to build ICTA’s reputation as a world-class institution – a reputation that the Faculty of Agriculture was subsequently able to capitalise on when it was established. In 1956, Professor Hardy served at the Inter-American Institute of Agricultural Sciences in Turrialba, Costa Rica. He returned to Trinidad and Tobago in 1967 and continued his work at UWI.

He was one of only two persons awarded an honorary Associateship of the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture (AICTA). On 2nd January 1950, the Crown inducted him into the Order of the British Empire as a Commander of the Civil Division. Today, his legacy to the university is immortalised by Hardy Drive which runs through the University housing area, the Frederick Hardy Building which houses agricultural research and teaching, and the Frederick Hardy Prize, which is presented annually to the best final year soil science student.

Professor Hardy died on 9th April, 1977.