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History of Russian agrochemistry

History of Russian agrochemistry (Русский Español)

History of farming in Russian



History of Russian agrochemistry (Русский Español)

History of farming in Russian


The theory of plant mineral nutrition

First assumptions about the role of minerals in plant nutrition

The French naturalist B. Palissy suggested as early as 1563 that the soil was the source of the minerals needed by plants: “salt is the basis of life and growth of all crops,” and the manure carried to the fields would be of no value if it did not contain the salt that remains in it from the decomposition of hay and straw. If you sow a field for several consecutive years without applying manure, the crops will extract from the ground the salt they need to grow; thus, the land is impoverished in salts and yields no crops. These ideas about the causes of soil depletion and the necessity of returning ash substances in the form of fertilizer were not scientifically confirmed until 300 years later.

In 1656 the German chemist J.R. Glauber suggested that the main factor in yields was saltpeter, the application of which to the soil resulted in a significant increase in yields. He associated the fertilizing effect of manure with the formation of nitrate. However, the views of B. Palissy and I.R. Glauber were not appreciated – it was still more than 100 years before nitrogen was discovered, and the role of nitrogen in plant life was established much later.

In the manuscripts of the French scientist Lavoisier, which were published after his tragic death in 1794, the main provisions of the mineral theory of plant nutrition, formulated 50 years earlier than Liebig, were stated.

“Plants derive the materials necessary for their organization from the air that surrounds them, from water, from the mineral kingdom in general.”


In the field of plant mineral nutrition, some views were stated in 1789 by Rückert. He noted that each plant requires a particular composition of soil on which it succeeds best, and that some plants, when perennially sown without interruption, very deplete the field. He saw the possibility of eliminating such depletion in fertilizers containing the missing substance. Rückert proposed a theory of soil depletion close to Libich’s. However, this correct position was not convincing to his contemporaries because of the insufficient perfection of soil and plant analysis techniques.

If the theory of root nutrition of plants had not yet been substantiated in the 18th century, the role of the atmosphere as a source of carbon for plants was confirmed by the works of Priestley (1775), Ingenguz (1779) and Senebier (1782), although it took a long time to reveal the mechanism of this process and, in general, the theory of aerial plant nutrition.

The theory of root nutrition of plants developed in a more complicated way. The Swedish chemist Valerius, despite the well-known works of Palissy, Glauber and others on the importance of mineral salts in plant nutrition, suggested in 1761 that plants are nourished by humus. He made his assumptions from practical observation about influence of manure and humus on soil fertility and he erroneously thought that plants assimilate humus directly by roots and organic matter of soil is nutrition for plants while other constituents are of auxiliary importance, for example, they contribute to dissolution of fatty substances of humus (chalk). The largest German agronomist A. Thayer (1752-1828) adhered to this theory and actively propagated it.

А. Thayer believed that the fertility of soil depends on the content of humus and that, besides water, humus is the only substance of soil serving as nutrition for plants. Minerals in this theory were assigned a secondary role, that is, as substances that accelerate the decomposition of humus and convert it into an available form. Since Thayer enjoyed great authority at that time, his ideas and the humus theory of plant nutrition became widespread.

The German scientist Sprengel – Liebig’s predecessor – wrote in his book “Doctrine of Fertilization” that plants form organic bodies from inorganic substances obtained from soil and air, using light, heat, electricity and water. He paid great attention to the necessity of returning the minerals lost by the soil, because plants get carbon, hydrogen and oxygen from the air, which, in contrast to the soil, remains the same in composition. Sprengel considered it imperative to apply bound forms of nitrogen to the soil, since most plants are unable to assimilate atmospheric nitrogen. Thus, he created the doctrine of the role of minerals for plant nutrition and the necessity of their return to the soil.

The difference in the ideas of Sprengel and Liebig was that the former considered air carbon dioxide as the main source of carbon for plants, but he did not deny the possible use of soil humus by the roots. Having no experimental evidence, he could not deny this, so in this part his views coincided with the humus theory of plant nutrition.

J. Libich

The humus theory of plant nutrition was disproved after the publication in 1840 of Justus Liebig’s (1803-1873) book Chemistry in Application to Farming and Physiology, which was of great importance for understanding the role of plant mineral nutrition.

The main thesis of Libich’s teaching on plant nutrition is the purely inorganic nature of the substances absorbed by the plant. The humus, on the other hand, serves as a source of carbon dioxide in the soil, which accelerates the weathering of silicates and prepares mineral nutrition for plants.

A logical continuation of Liebig’s mineral theory of plant nutrition was his theory of fertilization and soil depletion, which justified the need for crop rotation. Liebig believed that all plants deplete the soil, but that different crops deplete the soil in different ways. Thus, crop rotation only slows the depletion process, but it will come sooner or later if the soil is not given back what has been alienated by the crops. Since most of the farms export grain, it means that first of all there will be a deficit of phosphorus substances, which content in grain is higher than in straw. In turn, straw and hay go for livestock feed and bedding, ending up as manure back in the soil, as opposed to substances alienated with the grain.

These views of Libich on the need to apply phosphate in the first place, were later confirmed in the advanced use of phosphate compared to other mineral fertilizers. In order to isolate soluble monocalcium phosphates, he suggested treating bones with sulfuric acid. A more intensive development in the production of phosphate fertilizers was the technology in which phosphorites were treated with sulfuric acid. This technology was first proposed by Loose in 1843 in England.

Liebich insisted on the necessity of returning to the soil those minerals with which it was particularly depleted. If these minimums are not eliminated, other substances will be useless. This provision was called “Liebich’s law of the minimum,” although Liebich himself did not use the term, considering the provision to be relative. In his book “55 Theses” (1855) he noted:

“An element totally absent or not in the right quantity prevents other nutrient compounds from producing their effect, or at least reduces their nutritive effect.”

J. Liebich first formulated the idea of conscious regulation of the metabolism between human beings and nature.

“The doctrine of the necessity of return represents, however much one may try to limit its importance, one of the most important acquisitions of science.”

K.A. Timiryazev

“… any soil can be considered fully fertile for this or that kind of plants, say for wheat, if each of its particles, contacting with the roots, contains all the necessary nutrients and in such a form, which allows the roots to assimilate these substances at any stage of plant development, in due time and in their proper mutual correlation.”

J. Liebig, 1840.

Libich gave importance to a variety of factors influencing the yield, such as the geographic latitude of the area, its position above sea level, annual precipitation, its distribution by months, average spring, summer and autumn temperatures, maximum and minimum temperatures during the year, physical, chemical and geological properties of soils. Thus, he approached the assessment of fertility by taking into account a complex of factors. He was not aware of the role of biological properties of soil, since it was not until 35-40 years after Libich’s death that the role of soil bacteria in the formation of nitrates and other processes was established.

Liebich did not experiment with plants, basing his statements on general considerations about the cycle of matter in agriculture and chemical analysis of plants.

J. Liebich, because of his haste in the practical implementation of his conclusions, made several erroneous assumptions. For example, he thought that ammonia and oxidized forms of nitrogen in the air were sufficient to provide the soil with this element and to satisfy the needs of plants. He explained the enrichment of the soil with nitrogen by legumes by the fact that over a long period of growth they absorb more ammonia from the air and the nitrogen that comes with precipitation. For this reason, he determined the value of manure by the content of ash substances – potassium and phosphorus.

Development of the theory of plant mineral nutrition

The theory of mineral nutrition was developed in experiments on growing plants on sterile media: water and sand, with the addition of necessary mineral salts. In 1858 Knop and Sachs were able to bring plants to full maturity when grown on artificial nutrient media with the use of minerals.

The importance of nitrogen in plant nutrition was studied by J.B. Bussengo (1802-1887). From 1836, while a professor at the University of Lyon, he investigated the balance of nutrient inputs and outputs per crop rotation and determined the role of legumes in enriching the soil with nitrogen. A number of his works on the study of the cycle of substances in agriculture became the basis for the creation of a new science, agrochemistry. The combination of Libich’ s position on the role of ash elements and Bussengo’s assertion of the importance of nitrogen allowed the development of the theory of root nutrition of plants.

Bussengo contrasted his nitrogen theory of fertilization with Thayer’s humus theory. He attributed the depletion of soil fertility to the removal of nitrogen from crops. He found that some crops, such as clover and alfalfa, could enrich the soil with nitrogen, which he proved by precise agrochemical studies in field experiments in crop rotations. The fact of eliminating nitrogen deficiency in the crop rotation at the expense of clover and alfalfa, was established by him in 1836-1838. At the same time it was shown that the amount of carbon in the crop did not depend on its quantity in the manure, and that the source of carbon for the plants was the carbon dioxide of the air.

Bussengo conducted precise agrochemical and physiological experiments, thus emphasizing that to verify a scientist’s opinion “one must ask the opinion of the plant itself.” He is rightly considered the founder of agrochemistry.

Bussengo, in addition to field experiments, conducted research on nitrogen nutrition of plants in special vessels, giving rise to the vegetative method. He made a number of experiments on the assimilation of carbon by plants, confirming that atmospheric carbon dioxide serves as a source of carbon nutrition for plants. The effect of environmental conditions on the assimilation of carbon by leaves was studied. These works marked the beginning of the biochemical direction in agrochemistry.

In 1886, Gelrigel’s work on nitrogen assimilation by legumes was published. The nodules on their roots were discovered by M.S. Voronin in 1865, but the connection between them and nitrogen assimilation was not established. Gelrigel, conducting a series of experiments, concluded that legumes, developing in the soil containing certain bacteria, get infected by them and form nodules on their roots, after which they acquire the ability to assimilate atmospheric nitrogen. At the same time, legumes accumulate organic matter in the soil, but at the same time they are nitrogen-sinkers. After a good clover herbage, the soil receives as much nitrogen and organic matter as from an application of 30-35 t/ha of manure.

The development of the theory of plant nutrition was the reason for the use of mineral fertilizers in agriculture. In the mid-19th century, two mineral fertilizers found use in agriculture: Chilean saltpeter and superphosphate. In 1865 the extraction of potassium salts began in Stassfurt.

Development of agrochemistry in Russia before the Revolution of 1917

The development of agrochemistry in Russia is closely connected with the improvement of farming systems, formation of views on plant nutrition, creation of scientific methods of chemical and biological research, introduction of quantitative methods to study the transformation of substances. In the XIV-XVI centuries the fallow-cereal system with three-field crop rotation becomes widespread in arable farms, the practice of manure application is introduced.

Gardening and horticultural culture of farming in noble estates and in urban merchant possessions, was becoming increasingly important from the XV-XVI centuries, improving the understanding of nature in the field of botany and chemistry. Thus, in the instructions of the “Domostroy” in the second half of the 16th century, instructions were given for gardening: how to dig beds, fertilize with manure, breed seeds, combat plant pests, etc.

The second half of the 18th century, thanks to the emergence of sciences in Russia and the work of many scientists of the time on the issues of agriculture and fertilizers can be considered a period of emergence of Russian agronomic science.

M.V. Lomonosov

Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov (1711-1765) was the founder of natural science in Russia. In 1753, in his work “Word on the Phenomena of the Air,” he wrote:

“The abundant growth of fat trees, which have established their roots on barren sand, clearly shows that with their fat leaves they absorb fatty nutrition from the air.”

He was the first to suggest the origin of humus and black earth. In his book “On the Layers of the Earth,” he gave an explanation of the origin of soil humus:

“There is no doubt that chernozem is not primordial and not primordial matter, but came from the coexistence of animals and growing bodies over time.”

Lomonosov believed that during the formation of humus under natural conditions, the same processes occur as in cultivated soils during the decomposition of manure and the formation of arable land.

In 1765 the Free Economic Society (FES) was founded, which for the next 100 years played an important role in the development of agronomic science. The society’s proceedings regularly published works on the application of fertilizers.

A.T. Bolotov

Andrey Timofeyevich Bolotov (1738-1833) – an outstanding scientist-agronomist, actively advocated the development and widespread use of agricultural knowledge, the author of important articles on the fertilization of fields and soil fertility. He devoted a lot of time to the study of fertilizers – manure, slurry, ash and lime. He wrote, lands in many places without manure do not give good harvests, and manure in farms is scarce, as there are few cattle from the lack of fodder, so to have more, it is necessary to have fertilizers.

A.T. Bolotov raised the question:

“… about the use of cattle manure in the steppe and such places, where there is no custom to fertilize these lands”.

Already at that time he noted that black earths are ploughed and need fertilizers. In his article “About manure salts” he wrote about formation of nutrients available to plants from organic fertilizers. A.T. Bolotov paid attention to soil fertility, noting that the first subject of farming is the quality of the land, it is necessary to understand “what the land is most capable of”. He associated soil fertility with the biological characteristics of plants, and the quality (fertility) recommended to determine by carrying out experiments with fertilizers.

I.M. Komov

Ivan Mikhailovich Komov (1750-1792) in his book “On Farming” in 1789 outlined the scientific principles of farming. He wrote that before “giving rules, how to fertilize every land and how to sow every plant, it is necessary to show the beginnings and sources, where these rules come from”.

I.M. Komov described in detail the properties of various soils and gave instructions on determining the fertility by morphological and geobotanical features, on conducting chemical and mechanical analysis of soils, on determining the content of clay, sand, lime and humus.

“Having thus learned the properties of the earth, the main task of an agriculturist is to fertilize the bad earth and, having fertilized it, to try that it does not lose its goodness.”

Much attention is given by him to the issues of liming the soil, the use of ash, peat, manure and other local fertilizers:

“Lime makes clay soil not only loose, but also destroys any acid that is in the clay soil for the most part.”

Komov suggested and considered it useful to use the agricultural experience of England and other European countries.

А. Poshman

Anton Poshman in 1809 published a book “Instruction on Preparation of Dry and Wet Fertilizer Mixtures,” in which he suggested using “dry fertilizer mixtures,” representing primarily ash from burning plants and organic waste. Noting the importance of combining manure and “dry mixtures,” he recommended mixing manure with lime, garbage, ash, and dry fertilizer, that is, preparing composts.

“The property of lime may be revered as an inducing power of growth.”

А. Poshman

He had the idea of preparing artificial mineral fertilizers – preparing dry mixtures of fertilizers from various organic substances. Poshman guessed the importance of nitrogen in plant nutrition, but mistakenly believed that ash attracts nitrogen and oxygen from the air to form nitrate.

А. Poshman was not an advocate of the idea of universal agronomic methods applicable to any local conditions.

M.I. Afonin

Matvey Ivanovich Afonin (1739-1810) was the first Russian professor, who read the course of agronomy, when in 1770 in Moscow University began its teaching. In the same year at the solemn meeting of Moscow University he gave a speech on the importance of soil organic matter in farming.

M.G. Pavlov

Mikhail Grigoryevich Pavlov (1793-1840) was a professor at Moscow University, a prominent figure in the Russian agronomic school. In 1818 he was sent to Europe, where he studied agronomy and worked under A. Thayer, who created the humus theory of plant nutrition.

M.G. Pavlov was the editor of the magazine “Russian farmer”, in which he gave much attention to the issues of agronomic chemistry. In 1825 he published the book “Agrarian Chemistry”, and then the “Course of Agriculture”, in which he presented his views on plant nutrition and the use of fertilizers. M.G. Pavlov was a supporter of Thayer’s humus theory of nutrition, so his contemporaries called him the “Russian Thayer.”

“To fertilize the earth means to make it more fruitful than what it is.”

M.G. Pavlov

“Earth fertilization” improves the physical properties, eliminates acids, accelerates the breakdown of soil organic matter, and increases fertility. The latter, according to Pavlov, consists in multiplying nutrients in the soil, or rewarding what is stolen from the ground by growing plants, with organic fertilizers. M.G. Pavlov organized and headed the experimental field and the agricultural school, where he implemented his views on agriculture, he became the first organizer of the experimental case in Russia.

M.G. Pavlov did not speak about the role of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and mineral nutrition, believing that the material for plant nutrition is “chernozem” (humus), water and carbon dioxide. 

After the publication of J. Liebig’s book “Chemistry in Application to Farming and Plant Physiology” in 1840, the humus theory of plant nutrition was disproved. This book was published in Russian in 1864. With the creation of the doctrine of chemical elements and the chemical composition of plants, it became possible to develop the theory of plant mineral nutrition to its modern understanding. Since the 1840s the experimental agrochemical study of the role of certain types of mineral fertilizers began.

D.I. Mendeleev

Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev (1834-1907) was a great chemist, but his range of scientific interests also included agriculture, including agrochemistry. In 1869 at the Congress of Naturalists in Moscow he made a report on agrochemical experiments. His views on the production and use of fertilizers and tillage have not lost their relevance to the present time. In particular, the following:

On the establishment of experiments to study the effectiveness of fertilizers, as applied to various zones of Russia. 

In his report “On the Organization of Agricultural Experiments” at the meeting of the 1st branch of the Free Economic Society (3. IV 1866) he outlined his views:

“Experiments … are necessary for us both in order to get to know better the conditions of Russian agriculture, and in order to select from scientific conclusions some beneficial for agriculture. Such experiments may also be of great help to science, if they are carried out in a strict way.

D.I. Mendeleev

D.I. Mendeleev set up experiments in four locations in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Simbirsk and Smolensk provinces, but they were full-fledged agrochemical studies with a detailed study of the soil, its composition, influence on fertilizers and climate. He said that the experiments must be scientific, with a program and a great repetition, and the “casually made” experiments are rather harmful. Being a supporter of the exact experimental science, he believed that it is necessary to apply to agriculture the exact science, to carry out repetition of field experiments and apply mathematical treatment of results.

On the necessity of extensive use of mineral fertilizers:

“The use of artificial fertilizers makes it possible to quickly correct the deficiencies of the soil, to replace manure with various refuse, makes it possible to bring the crop to the highest perfection with all the deficiencies of the soil.”

D.I. Mendeleev

Soils are depleted and nutrients need to be introduced into them, but manure is scarce, so it is necessary to find other sources of nutrients for plants. For this purpose experiments of the Free Economic Society were made with mineral fertilizers.

D.I. Mendeleev proposed to pay attention to phosphorus and “alkaline-potassium”, i.e. potassium fertilizers, as well as to study the forms of fertilizers.

On the complex use of methods of yield creation. Mendeleev gave the central place to agrochemistry in the agronomic science, believing that the scientific principles in agriculture spread due to the interest of chemists, and the main provisions of agrochemical science – the return of nutrients, the theory of fertilization, the theory of nutrition – were derived from chemical research.

D.I. Mendeleev believed that depletion of soils should not be feared, since future generations would be able to find the necessary substances to apply to the soil. He was a supporter of wide use of manure, nitrogen fertilizers and lime in agriculture, which in the conditions of the Non-Black Earth zone gave a good result, but underestimated the phosphate fertilizers, which were less effective in his experiments.

At the same time, D.I. Mendeleev was a supporter of a comprehensive approach to increasing the productivity of agriculture:

“I rebel against those who preach in print and verbally that it is all about fertilization, that by fertilizing well, one can also plow poorly.”

A.N. Engelhardt

Alexander Nikolayevich Engelhardt (1832-1893) was a professor of chemistry at the St. Petersburg Agricultural Institute and a major public figure of the time. He left a profound mark in the history of Russian agrochemistry and proved the effectiveness of phosphorus fertilizers.

A.N. Engelhardt conducted studies on the use of phosphorites for fertilizer production, examined phosphate deposits in the Kursk, Smolensk, Orel and Voronezh provinces. Thanks to his activities and increased interest in the use of mineral fertilizers in Russia, the development of phosphate deposits began. In 1868-1869 the first plants for milling phosphorite flour began operating.

“In phosphorite flour we have a powerful means for the development of our wastelands, which constitute in northern Russia the main mass of land.”

A.N. Engelhardt

D.N. Pryanishnikov called the zone of effective application of phosphoritic flour, in which sod-podzolic soils prevail, “Engelhardt’s zone of phosphoritic flour application”.

A.N. Engelhardt was the first to consider the use of mineral fertilizers and grass seeding, a combination of phosphorus fertilizers and sideration to enrich the soil with nitrogen.

In his book “Chemical Foundations of Farming,” he noted the need to return the nutrients to the soil, taken out by plants with crops, pointing out that with the manure into the soil returns only part of the nutrients contained in the straw and hay, the remaining nutrients contained in grain, livestock, dairy products, back into the soil do not return. He saw the dependence of fertilizer efficiency on the presence of assimilable nutrients in the soil: for plants to grow and give a crop, it is not enough that there are nutrients in the environment, but “these elements must be in the form of those compounds that are suitable for plant nutrition.”

A.N. Engelhardt sought to create intelligent farmers. His name is associated with the establishment of agricultural experimentation in the north of the Non-Black Earth zone of Russia.

A.E. Zaikevich

Anastasiy Yegorovich Zaykevich (1842-1931), professor at Kharkov University, was the first to show that black earths, despite their high humus content, respond well to the application of mineral fertilizers.

A.E. Zaykevich created the scientific basis for the technology of fertilizer application: mechanized local, row application. He paid much attention to the organization of experimental work in Russia, making experiments with fertilizers, on agrotechnics, studying the dependence of the yield of different varieties of plants on fertilizers, fallow tillage, the depth of plowing.

P.A. Kostychev

Pavel Andreevich Kostychev (1845-1895) – educator, researched the black earth soils of Russia. In his work “Soils of the Black Earth Region of Russia, Their Origin, Composition and Properties” he developed the doctrine on the factors of soil formation of black earth (chernozem). He paid much attention to the study of the phosphate regime of soils and the use of phosphate fertilizers. In his work “On Which Soils Does Phosphoritic Mixture Increase Yields. The Study of Podzol and the Reasons for Improving it with Phosphorous Mixture” he noted that podzol soils contain a large amount of organic phosphates.

In 1884 P.A. Kostychev’s book “Doctrine on Fertilization” was published, in which he criticized the “total return theory” proposed by J. Libich. He noted that soil fertility depends not only on the amount of nutrients in it, but also on its structure and other physical properties, connecting them with accumulation of humus.

P.A. Kostychev’s views on mineralization of organic matter in soils, importance of soil absorbing complex, absorbed bases and soil solution, soil structure formation, mobilization of natural reserves of mineral substances mostly coincide with modern ideas. He noted that the mobilization of natural soil nutrients cannot do without fertilization.

“In the cultivation of agricultural plants it has long been noticed that all soils from which yields are obtained over a more or less long series of years are exhausted, i.e. begin to yield less and less.”

P.A. Kostychev, 1908.

Kostychev became the first Russian agromicrobiologist, the founder of the biological direction in agronomic chemistry, later developed in the works of P.S. Kossovich and D.N. Pryanishnikov.

K.A. Timiryazev

Kliment Arkadievich Timiryazev (1843-1920) made a great contribution not only to the development of plant physiology, but also to the entire agronomic science. He highly appreciated Libich’s contribution to the justification of the ideas of rational agriculture. K.A. Timiryazev called Libich’s provisions on the return of nutrients carried away with the harvest into the soil and on the dependence of the yield on the nutrient being in the minimum the main law. He considered clover planting and application of mineral fertilizers as the main ways of increasing the productivity of agriculture.

K.A. Timiryazev attached importance to the biological fixation of nitrogen by leguminous plants and called the possibility of getting the nitrogen fertilizers from the air nitrogen as a striking result of scientific work promising a sharp turn in agriculture. He advocated the confirmation of scientific achievements in field experiments on farms, considering this the best way to give the peasant the idea to repeat it in his farm.

The objectives of agriculture, formulated by K.A. Timiryazev, fully apply to modern agrochemistry as well. He attributed the main scientific task to the study of peculiarities of cultivation of agricultural plants, taking into account their requirements to the environmental conditions. Studying the issues of plant physiology and working on assimilation in the field bordering on physics, K.A. Timiryazev always emphasized the closeness of agronomic chemistry and plant physiology. He fought against the narrow practicalism that interfered with the depth of scientific research.

Timiryazev was an advocate of wide use of the vegetation method. He built the first vegetation house in Russia in 1872 at the Petrovsky Agricultural Academy. On the basis of his works, methods of isolated plant nutrition (I.S. Shulov), method of flowing solutions (P.S. Kossovich), method of sterile crops in D.N. Pryanishnikov’s laboratory (I.S. Shulov and G.G. Petrov) were later developed.

In his book “Farming and Plant Physiology” (1937), which is a collection of selected lectures, speeches and translations of the late XIX – early XX century and dedicated to K.A. Timiryazev’s teacher, agrochemist J.B. Bussengo, he wrote:

“If the plant lives well, the human being lives well; if the plant dies, the human being faces an imminent calamity as well.”

From this he drew an important conclusion: in order to feed the human being, it is necessary to feed the plant:

“… all the tasks of agronomy, if you go into their essence, are reduced to the definition and possible exact realization of the conditions of the correct nourishment of plants”.

In K.A. Timiryazev’s understanding, the science of “agrochemistry” cannot be isolated from related branches of natural science, pointing to its inseparable connection with plant physiology and agriculture, calling plant physiology the daughter of agrochemistry. It was these two directions that determined the progress of agriculture in the 19th century.

“Advances in agronomic chemistry and the appearance of new methods expand the field of science, but only testing directly on the plant gives full credibility to its explanations and conclusions. Farming has become what it is only thanks to agronomic chemistry and plant physiology; this is obvious and proved by history itself.”

K.A. Timiryazev

Speaking of the relationship and interdependence of the sciences, K.A. Timiryazev draws an analogy: animal physiology – medicine, plant physiology (nutritional physiology) – agronomy:

“Just as animal physiology owes its beginning to medical schools, so plant physiology will owe its development largely to agronomic schools, and at present agricultural academies, experimental stations, and chairs of agronomic chemistry are almost the most important centers in which plant physiology, especially nutritional physiology, is developing”.

K.A. Timiryazev was the first in the world to lecture on agricultural chemistry in the 19th century.

“It [agronomic chemistry] has as its subject the changes and transformations of substances connected with the growth and nutrition of plants.”

K.A. Timiryazev

Farming itself was characterized by K.A. Timiryazev:

“… nowhere, perhaps, in any other activity is it necessary to weigh so many diverse conditions of success, nowhere does it require such multilateral information, nowhere can the fascination with a one-sided point of view lead to such a major failure as in agriculture.”

Therefore, farming must be scientific and rational, and it becomes scientific when it is based on plant physiology and agronomic chemistry. In K.A. Timiryazev’s philosophy, knowledge as an end is science, knowledge as a means is art.

“The art of farming, an art based on the exact data of science, consists in freeing the plant, and consequently the agriculturist, from the power of the earth.”

K.A. Timiryazev

“To know the needs of the plant is the field of theory; profitably… meet these needs is the main concern of practice.”

K.A. Timiryazev

Timiryazev laid the foundation for leaf diagnosis of mineral nutrition:

“Just think, when a plant is hungry, it calls itself to be fed.”

He was the first in Russia to study the physiological and biochemical importance of trace elements in plant life, in particular studies of the effect of iron, nickel, manganese, cobalt and zinc on the conversion of phylloxanthin to chlorophyllin. Subsequently, these and similar studies laid the foundation for the agrochemistry of trace elements.

D.A. Sabinin

Dmitry Anatolievich Sabinin (1889-1951) – studied in detail the issues of mineral nutrition of plants and physiology of the root system, its permeability and ability to absorb, secrete and recycle mineral and some organic substances, thereby laying the direction for the study of mineral nutrition of plants and establishing the idea of synthetic ability of the root system.

The results of D.A. Sabininin’s scientific activity are presented in his numerous scientific works, the most appreciated of which is the monograph “Physiological Bases of Plant Nutrition” published in 1955 after the scientist’s death.

D.A. Sabinin was engaged in scientific and pedagogical activities, especially during his chairmanship of the Laboratory of Plant Physiology at the All-Union Polytechnic Institute (1932-1941) and the Chair of Plant Physiology at the Lomonosov Moscow State University (1955). M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University.

D.A. Sabinin’s ideas were developed in subsequent studies by I.I. Kolosov, N.Z. Stankov, and I.V. Mosolov. His pupils and followers spoke well of their teacher, characterized him as a charming soulful man, a brave innovative scientist, an original thinker and researcher, a talented teacher, who can be rightly proud of Russian science.

P.S. Kossovich

Peter Samsonovich Kossovich (1862-1915), researcher and public figure, was distinguished by the breadth and variety of issues he studied and their practical orientation. He confirmed D.N. Pryanishnikov’s conclusion about the ability to feed plants with ammonia nitrogen by making direct experiments in sterile conditions, excluding the possibility of nitrification of ammonia nitrogen, which caused the development of production and wide application of ammonia fertilizers.

P.S. Kossovich established that legumes assimilate free nitrogen by their roots and, therefore, the probable site of nitrogen synthesis in plants are the roots where the nodules are located. Studying free nitrogen assimilation, he proved that biological nitrogen synthesis can also be carried out by free-living bacteria – nitotobacter and clostridia.

P.S. Kossovich showed the different ability of plants to assimilate phosphorus of hard-soluble forms of phosphate, which depends on the biological characteristics of plants, soil type and accompanying fertilizers.

Studying the clover-fatigue of the soil, he established the main reason by vegetative experiments – the lack of nutrients in the soil, primarily phosphorus and potassium. The application of mineral fertilizers, and especially phosphorus fertilizers, under clover is a measure to combat clover fatigue.

P.S. Kossovich managed to solve experimentally a practical question for agriculture: biological immobilization of soil nitrogen by applying straw or fresh unprepared manure. For this purpose, an experiment with oats and vetch was set up. Adding straw to the soil led to a decrease in the yield of oats, but did not reduce the yield of vetch, which provided it at the expense of air nitrogen. Thus, the techniques of storing manure and using it for fertilizer were scientifically substantiated.

P.S. Kossovich made a great contribution to the organization of the publication of the “Journal of Experimental Agronomy”, which became for many years the only periodical scientific and agronomic journal in Russia. He was also one of the first Russian geochemists. In particular, he is the author of the work on the cycle of sulfur and chlorine in nature, showed the increasing dependence of the amount of sulfur entering the soil from the atmosphere with the increase in the number of factories and plants.

K.K. Giedroytz

Konstantin Kaetanovich Gedroyts (1872-1932) was a pupil of P.S. Kossovich. He developed the methods of vegetation experiment, studied phosphoritization and liming of soil, determined the needs of clover in phosphates, developed the doctrine of soil salinity. K.K. Gedroyts was world famous for his studies of soil absorption complex and absorption capacity of soils, which he began in 1910 and which were presented in his works “Study of Soil Absorption Capacity” and “Soil Absorption Complex and Soil Absorbed Cations as a Basis for Genetic Soil Classification”.

These works, as well as “Chemical Analysis of Soils” played an important role in the development of soil science and agrochemistry, in the theoretical justification of liming and chemical reclamation of saline soils.

He put forward the position about the ability of soils to exchange the absorbed cations (metals and hydrogen) contained in the absorbing complex, and the amount of cations absorbed by the soil is equivalent to the amount of cations displaced from the soil solution, and the rate of the exchange reaction is instantaneous.

V.V. Dokuchaev

Vasily Vasilievich Dokuchaev (1846-1903) was an outstanding Russian soil scientist. He wrote that the improvement of agricultural culture can go the right, reliable way with a comprehensive study of soils. He saw the main task of the study of soils in the management of the processes occurring in them that determine the fertility, stability and height of crop yields.

In his works on classification and evaluation of lands V.V. Dokuchaev took into account the process of soil cultivation from the application of manure. In 1892, he wrote the book “Our Steppes Before and Now” as a response to the severe drought of 1891 in the Black Earth Belt of Russia. The book provides an analysis of the causes of the drought and outlines a plan for the transformation of nature and reconstruction of the farming system of the Black Earth strip to obtain high and stable harvests.

The system of measures developed by V.V. Dokuchaev aims to regulate water management in steppe areas. Centuries of local experience and scientific research conducted in the southern steppe show that the chernozem zone is subject to slow progressive desiccation. The main measures proposed were: regulation of rivers, ravines and gullies; regulation of water management in open steppes, in watershed spaces; rationing the ratio of cropland, meadows, forests, water bodies and improving the system of tillage in the steppe zone.

V.V. Dokuchaev has achieved the organization of a special expedition, which he himself headed, organized a network of experimental stations, testing in practice the effectiveness of his plan and proposed measures. The complex of measures developed by him was applied taking into account local conditions at the Kamennostepnaya experimental station, nowadays the Scientific and Research Institute of Agriculture of the Central Black Soil zone named after V.A. Dokuchayev, which allowed for many years to receive high and stable yields of grain and other crops in the conditions of the Black Earth steppe.

V.V. Dokuchaev also noted the importance of training qualified specialists-agronomists, for which it is necessary to organize higher educational and agronomical institutes. He was the first to show the role of soil in the life of nature and man. In his doctrine it is considered as a natural-historical body, in which, as in a mirror, are reflected the centuries-old interactions between the dead and living nature, including human activities. Therefore, domestic and foreign scientists call V.V. Dokuchaev is one of the founders of the doctrine of the biosphere.

V.V. Dokuchaev supported the idea of the development of domestic zonal agronomy and opposed blindly following and copying the achievements of agronomy of the Western European countries.

Soviet period

D.N. Pryanishnikov

Dmitry Nikolayevich Pryanishnikov (1865-1948) was the founder of Soviet agrochemistry, he substantiated the theory of ammonia and nitrate plant nutrition, gave comprehensive recommendations on the production and use of ammonia fertilizers, conducted work on the theory of nitrogen exchange, justified the conditions for the effective use of phosphate on acidic soils, laid the provisions for increasing soil fertility and use of atmospheric nitrogen biologically in combination with the application of nitrogen fertilizers.

In 1887 Dmitry Nikolayevich entered the Petrovskaya Academy, where he worked all his life. Here he received a master’s degree in agronomy (1890), worked as a professor (1895-1948), for the first time in the world in 1896 introduced the practice of students making vegetation experiments, he was the deputy director of the academic department in 1907-1913, and from 1916 he became the director himself. Until his last days in “Petrovka” he headed the created by him chair of agronomic and biological chemistry.

There is practically not a single theoretical direction in agrochemistry and the practice of farming chemistry without the influence of the works of D.N. Pryanishnikov and his pupils.

He actively promoted the introduction and mastery of everything new, advanced, opposed the erroneous provisions in science and what hindered the scientific and technological progress in agriculture, hindered the development of mineral fertilizer production in the chemical industry.

D.N. Pryanishnikov regarded the application of agrochemical knowledge in practice as a means to increase labor productivity. Why was it necessary if Russia, long considered an agrarian country, exported grain to other countries? The answer to this question in D.N. Pryanishnikov’s works: the point is not that Russia gathered high harvests of grain from year to year, but that it was an agrarian country by composition of population, a country in which peasants ate vegetarian (description of a prosperous village by S. Yesenin: “…on holidays – meat and kvass…”). Other countries, such as Germany, bought Russian grain to feed their cattle, getting 1 pound of meat out of 4-5 pounds of grain. The average yield of wheat in Russia in 1908-1912 was 45 poods, while in Germany it was 140 poods.

D.N. Pryanishnikov noted: “Russia must avoid the contradiction between improving the nutrition of the population and exports,” for which purpose it is necessary “to create a real surplus of bread” by means of tillage, mechanization or “chemification,” as at that time the use of mineral fertilizers was called. Giving credit to the first two methods, he chose chemification. Subsequently, it became clear that the use of fertilizers provides at least half of the increase in yields from intensive techniques.

D.N. Pryanishnikov urged not to stand idly by and wait for the construction of plants to bind atmospheric nitrogen or for superphosphate to become generally available, but to act and know that each lupine bush is, in fact, a miniature plant to utilize air nitrogen, working for nothing by means of solar energy.

In the first years of Soviet power, Pryanishnikov called for maximum use of local fertilizers – ash as a source of potassium, calcium and other ash elements; he paid attention to proper storage of manure, composting it with peat, about using lime on acidic soils.

In connection with the development of Solikamsk potassium deposits, D.N. Pryanishnikov and his pupils conducted a number of studies on the use of potassium salts for plant nutrition. He spent a lot of time studying the role of biological nitrogen in agriculture, stressed the importance of using organic fertilizers, organized the study of the effect of trace elements on plants, proved the equivalence of ammonium salts in the nitrogen nutrition of plants to nitrates. He determined the conditions under which ammonium salts do not lead to undesirable secondary effects.

D.N. Pryanishnikov began the transformation of nitrogenous substances in plants by studying the breakdown of protein substances and further transformations of breakdown products. It was known that seeds rich in protein substances produce large amounts of asparagine during germination. Pryanishnikov proved that the breakdown of proteins is accompanied by the formation of amino acids from which ammonia is further detached. During germination, the resulting ammonia is bound to asparagine and converted into a nonpoisonous compound, and asparagine can be used again in biosynthesis processes. D.N. Pryanishnikov called asparagine “neutralized ammonia. These works showed close links between nitrogen and carbohydrate metabolism. He called ammonium nitrate, which includes ammonium and nitrate ions, “the fertilizer of the future.”

D.N. Pryanishnikov spent a lot of work on determining the optimal timing, doses and methods of fertilizing, their placement in crop rotations and fertilization of individual crops.

He took an active part in organizing the Geographic Network of Experiments with Fertilizers and defended the necessity to increase the share of leguminous crops, which were typical for fertile crop rotations and considerably improved nitrogen and humus balance of soils. He opposed the skeptics, who underestimated the effectiveness of mineral fertilizers on low fertility soils, critics of the proponents of herbivory – opponents of the development of chemical agriculture in Russia. In 1937 D.N. Pryanishnikov wrote:

“As for the authors who think… that they know some secret of obtaining high yields without applying appropriate amounts of fertilizers (and without knowledge of agrochemistry), one can only say about these authors that they consider themselves materialists in vain”.

He urged not to confuse the concepts of “grass-farming” and “legume grass culture in the fields”, defending the expansion of legume crops, especially in conditions of sufficient moisture, and leguminous crops – in all agricultural areas of the country.

D.N. Pryanishnikov was the first in the Russian to start training agronomists-agrochemists. He became the author of the fundamental manual “Agrochemistry”, which collected many years of world experience in application of fertilizers, formulated theoretical foundations of agrochemistry in connection with biochemistry and physiology of plants.

Pryanishnikov paid constant attention to agrochemical education; he never contrasted educational and scientific work, often quoting Pirogov’s statement that “the scientific both shines and warms” and “the educational without the scientific only glitters”. He structured the educational process so that students’ independent research would have a prominent place in their learning. His motto of his scientific and pedagogical activities was “By researching, we teach”.

Like the majority of outstanding scientists, D.N. Pryanishnikov could be rightfully proud of a large army of his students: practically all domestic specialists-agronomists and agrochemists, in one way or another, learned from him. In particular, Academician N.I. Vavilov – the great sower, agronomist, plant breeder, geographer, ecologist, historian, ethnographer, geneticist, breeder, his works in the field of plant origin, variability, immunity and ecology are recognized throughout the world.

Under the editorship of D.N. Pryanishnikov, 17 volumes of the collection “From the Results of Vegetation Experiments and Laboratory Work” were published. Thanks to his active participation, the Scientific Institute of Fertilizers under the Supreme Soviet of National Economy, the All-Union Institute of Fertilizers, Agrotechnics and Agrosoil Science, the Central Research Institute of Sugar Industry were organized. His fundamental works, including “Agrochemistry” and “Nitrogen in Plant Life and Farming of the USSR”, are still used to train specialists.

D.N. Pryanishnikov liked to quote Herzen – “without scientific science there would be no applied science”. Agricultural production did not arise due to the development of scientific knowledge. This conclusion allowed a number of speculative, dogmatic nature-philosophical concepts and notions far from science to emerge.

“Representatives of such concepts, which rely neither on a rigorous natural-scientific theory nor on careful experiment, are generous with promises; they like to boast of their connection with practice, but care little for the fact that in the absence of a really scientific theory they have nothing to connect with practice.”

D.N. Pryanishnikov.

G.G. Petrov

G.G. Petrov developed the theory of nitrogen nutrition in plants, and the results of his research were published in 1917 in his book “Nitrogen Absorption by Higher Plants in Light and in Darkness,” which shows in detail the path of nitrogen transformation in plants from the moment of absorption to transformation into a protein substance.

I.S. Shulov

Ivan Semenovich Shulov (1874-1940) studied in detail the influence of ammonium nitrate on the assimilation of hard-soluble forms of phosphate by higher plants, which is explained by the release of organic acids by the roots. The results of his experiments were published in 1913 in his book “Investigations in the Physiology of Nutrition of Higher Plants by Methods of Isolated Nutrition and Sterile Cultures”.

He studied: development and morphological features of the root system and above-ground organs under different nitrogen nutrition; assimilation of asparagine nitrogen by higher plants, absorption of phosphorus-containing organic compounds, issues of organic root excretions, use of ammonium sulfate (NH4)2SO4 by plants.

I.G. Dikusar

Ivan Georgievich Dikusar (1897-1973) was an agrochemical scientist, a disciple and follower of D.N. Pryanishnikov. He conducted his research at the All-Russian Institute of Fertilizers ans Agrochemistry and at the plant nutrition station of the K.A. Timiryazev Moscow Agricultural Academy. K. A. Timiryazev. He contributed to the development of the theory of plant nitrogen nutrition, the results of which were presented in his doctoral dissertation “Nitrogen Nutrition and Crop” in 1945. This work was appreciated by D.N.Pryanishnikov, D.A.Sabinin, A.I.Oparin and others, who noted this work as “an outstanding phenomenon in our scientific literature”. The scientific provisions set forth in I.G. Dikusar’s work were verified and confirmed by precise experimentation.

“An agrochemist must be engaged not only in scientific problems, but also in the education of other agrochemists who will continue the work of their teachers. We need our children and grandchildren to love agrochemistry; agrochemistry is the future.”

I.G. Dikusar

A.V. Vladimirov

A.V. Vladimirov (1904-1952) made a great contribution to the development of plant nutrition theory. The results of his research work carried out by him and his collaborators from 1926 to 1946 were published in his monograph “Physiological Bases of Application of Nitrogen and Potassium Fertilizers” (1948).

In the book A.V. Vladimirov showed:

  1. Conditions affecting the flow of ammonia and nitrate nitrogen into the plant: the effects of different cations and anions; features of biochemical processes in individual plants, environmental reactions, aeration of the nutrient solution, etc;
  2. Effect of various forms of potassium salts on plant metabolism, on carbohydrate transformation and sugar accumulation in sugar beet root crops, the influence of anions on the process of sugar accumulation;
  3. The role of ammonia and nitrate nitrogen, potassium and other elements in metabolism, formation and accumulation of oxidized and reduced organic compounds in plants.

The theoretical provisions of proper combination of ammonia and nitrate nitrogen with other mineral nutrients developed by A.V. Vladimirov allow to influence crop yields and product quality.

F.V. Turchin

Fedor Vasilievich Turchin (1902-1965) was an agronomist who made a significant contribution to the development of the theory of nitrogen nutrition and the practice of fertilizer application.

The most important results of his research:

  1. Liquid nitrogen fertilizers, such as an aqueous solution of ammonia and ammoniacates, have the same effect as solid nitrogen fertilizers, when embedded to a depth of 10-12 cm they are adsorbed by soil colloids without loss of nitrogen.
  2. Ammonization of superphosphate with liquid nitrogen fertilizers gives a product of high fertilizing value with good physical properties.
  3. Showed that the lack of potassium in the conditions of ammonia nutrition leads to abundant accumulation of ammonia in plants, leading to ammonia poisoning and complete death of plants. At the same time the content of reducing sugars in the plant not only does not decrease, but significantly increases. F.V. Turchin explains the effect of potassium on ammonia assimilation by its effect on the chemical activity of carbohydrates, as a result of which the rate of amino acid synthesis and protein renewal slows down with a lack of potassium. 
  4. F.V. Turchin initiated the use of isotopic and spectroscopic methods of analysis in agrochemical studies.
  5. He discovered the regularities of protein and chlorophyll synthesis and exchange in plants, showing that protein synthesis begins with the formation of constitutional proteins of the protoplasm. Spare proteins are formed by transforming the constitutive proteins, which are included in the general metabolism in the plant and are continuously renewed.
  6. Using the chromatographic method, established a sequence of synthesis of individual amino acids from ammonia entering the plant: alanine is synthesized first, then asparagic and glutamic acids, and the last basic and aromatic amino acids.
  7. Presented a scheme of atmospheric nitrogen fixation in the nodules of legume plants.

A.N. Lebedyantsev

Alexander Nikandrovich Lebedyantsev (1878-1941). His important achievements in the development of agrochemistry:

  1. Together with D.N. Pryanishnikov participated in the organization of the Geographical network of field experiments, thanks to which the geographical regularity of the action of mineral fertilizers was established, their need in different regions of the country was determined, which served the development of mineral fertilizer production.
  2. A.N. Lebedyantsev thoroughly studied and for the first time showed the possibility of successful use of phosphorit flour on degraded, leached and powerful chernozems, which allowed to increase sharply the crop yields on these soils. D.N. Pryanishnikov named the new zone of phosphoritic flour application “Lebedyantsev’ zone”, earlier he called the zone of sod-podzol soils, in which phosphoritic flour was applied, “Engelgardt’s zone”.
  3. A.N. Lebedyantsev paid much attention to nitrification as a factor in enhancing ash nutrition of plants.
  4. A.N. Lebedyantsev conducted research to determine the role of soil drying in increasing soil fertility, concluding that in natural conditions the process of soil drying is important in all the processes of increasing soil fertility, which is achieved by methods of soil treatment.

F.V. Chirikov

Fyodor Vasilyevich Chirikov (1883-1964) made a significant contribution to the study of the phosphate regime of soils and increasing the efficiency of phosphorus fertilizers.

By determining the content of CaO and P2O5 in ash of plants, analyzing the CaO:P2O5 ratio and comparing these results with the responsiveness of different plants to phosphorus phosphates, he concluded that if the CaO:P2O5 is less than 1.3, such as in cereals, plants do not respond to phosphorite as a fertilizer; when the ratio is greater than 1.3, such as buckwheat, peas, mustard, and lupine, plants assimilate P2O5 to phosphorite.

In studying plant uptake of P2O5 of soil phosphorites, he distinguished five groups according to solubility. This method was used to justify differentiated use of phosphoric acid fertilizers on different types of soils and in the study of the phosphorus regime of soils, the features of phosphate transformation in the soil during prolonged application of phosphorus fertilizers.

F.V. Chirikov studied the processes of phosphate transformation in soil when using granulated superphosphate and the effect of phosphate fertilizers in crop rotation.

A.V. Sokolov

Andrey Vasilyevich Sokolov (1898-1980) was an outstanding scientist-agrochemist, organizer of the science and practice of chemicalization of agriculture.

In his book “Agrochemistry of Phosphorus” (1950) he outlined his views and the results of agrochemical research.

“Human beings cannot move, eat, reproduce, breathe, and think without numerous processes in their bodies in which phosphorus is actively involved.”

V.A. Sokolov

A.V. Sokolov pointed out the interrelation of nitrogen and phosphorus nutrition of plants, these elements are part of the same compounds and are interrelated in metabolism. 

He paid attention to practical issues of the use of phosphorus fertilizers, for example, he showed the dependence of sugar content in beets and starch – in potatoes on the provision of phosphorus, accelerated development of cucumbers and tomatoes. Increasing the share of legumes in grass mixtures contributes to improving the quality of hay in terms of protein content.

He studied the role of phosphates in drought conditions, in which plants poorly use soil phosphates and therefore need phosphate fertilizers to a greater extent, contributing to the growth of the root system and accelerating plant development.

A.V. Sokolov studied the relationship between phosphorus nutrition of plants with liming of sod-podzolic soils, noting that plants with liming of soils for a long period use much more phosphate than without liming, explaining that this is better assimilation of calcium phosphate than phosphate oxides of semi-hydroxides. Lime sharply reduces the amount of mobile forms of aluminum and iron, promotes the decomposition of organic phosphates and hydrolysis of phosphates of haloxides, translating them into calcium phosphates.

A.V. Sokolov considered the reasons for the effectiveness of granular phosphate fertilizers when applied locally, explaining this by better provision of young plants with nutrients by bringing fertilizers closer to the roots, reduced retrogradation of soil phosphates and biological binding of phosphates by soil microbes.

In his works “Essays from the History of Agronomic Chemistry in the USSR” (1958) and “Geographical Regularities of Fertilizer Effectiveness” (1968) he gives the results of studying the geography of fertilizer action on different types of soils.

O.K. Kedrov-Zikhman

Oskar Karlovich Kedrov-Zikhman (1885-1964) made a significant contribution to solving the problem of liming of acidic soils. In the monograph “Responsiveness of Agricultural Plants to Liming in Connection with Soil Acidity and the Degree of Soil Bases Saturation” (1934) due to the studies he made a conclusion about the possibility of wide use of magnesium-containing rocks for liming acid soils, and also showed the cultures reactions to the soil acidity and the composition of the absorbed cations after liming.

The use of dolomitized limestone and dolomite for liming has doubled the reserves of lime raw materials. On the subject of the use of magnesium for liming, he published the following works: “The Importance of Magnesium in Lime Fertilizers” (1940). (1940), “Magnesium and Boron as Factors for Increasing the Efficiency of Liming” (1940), “The Influence of Soil Liming on the Amount and Quality of Yield Depending on the Magnesium Content in Liming Fertilizer and the Use of Boron” (1948).

Particular attention O.K. Kedrov-Zikhman paid to the study of the effect of trace elements on plants under liming of acidic sod-podzolic soils. According to the results obtained, boron fertilizers enhance the positive effect of lime, boron and magnesium during liming increase the starch content in potato tubers, sugar – in beet roots, fat – in seeds, improve their quality. A positive effect of cobalt in the conditions of liming on the yield of most crops, increasing the mobility of molybdenum when applying lime, which reduces the need to use molybdenum fertilizers, liming reduces the mobility and availability to plants compounds of zinc, boron, cobalt, manganese was found.

The works of Y.V. Peyve, M.Y. Shkolnik, E.V. Bobko, O.K. Kedrov-Zikhman, A.V. Sokolov, P.A. Vlasyuk, M.V. Katalymov and other scientists were devoted to studying the role of microelements in plants growth and development, biochemical processes and conditions of efficiency of microfertilizers application in different soil and climatic zones of the country. In particular, the effect of boric fertilizers under conditions of liming has been studied, high efficiency of copper fertilizers on peat soils, manganese fertilizers in beet farms, zinc fertilizers on carbonate black earths, molybdenum – for leguminous crops has been established.

I.P. Mamchenkov

Ivan Prokhorovich Mamchenkov (1896-1980) since the opening of VPUA in 1931 for 40 years headed the laboratory of organic fertilizers.

The most important results of his research on organic fertilizers:

  1. Various methods of storing manure were studied; it was found that in the aerobic method of storage to reduce the loss of nitrogen it is necessary to compost manure with superphosphate and phosphorite flour, the most rational methods of storage were developed.
  2. Self-heating of peat and peat manure composts to 60-70 °C increases their content of ammonium and easily hydrolyzable nitrogen.
  3. Composting manure with phosphate meal increases the rate of its humification, reduces the loss of manure nitrogen, increases the phosphorus utilization factor of phosphate meal.
  4. Various types of bedding have been studied; it is most economically feasible to use straw and peat for this purpose, since peat nitrogen is mobilized by composting it with manure, slurry, agricultural and municipal wastes.
  5. The possibility of using sewage sludge as a fertilizer was studied.
  6. The expediency of combined use of organic and mineral fertilizers in crop rotation has been proved.

Important works on the storage and application of manure were also carried out by F.T. Perigurin, M.A. Egorov, I.F. Romashkevich and others.

E.K. Alekseev, S.P. Kulzhinsky, V.N. Prokoshev, F.F. Yukhimchuk and others were actively involved in the application of green fertilizer.

J.W. Peiwe

Jan Voldmarovich Peyve (1906-1976) was the founder of the doctrine of trace elements in domestic agrochemistry. The most significant scientific developments:

  1. Developed in 1933-1934 the method of determining mobile potassium in soils.
  2. In his scientific works “Microelements and Ferments” (1960), “Soil Biochemistry” (1961) and “Guidelines for the Use of Microfertilizers” (1963) he analyzed the results of hundreds of field and industrial experiments with trace elements.
  3. He headed the scientific work of the laboratory of biochemistry of microelements, which he organized in 1962 as part of the Institute of Plant Physiology named after K.A. Timiryazev of USSR Academy of Sciences, where he had carried out research on metallo-enzymes relating to nitrogen metabolism in plants, metallocontaining proteins involved in the processes of symbiotic nitrogen fixation in nodules of legumes, identified new links in the process of biological nitrogen fixation, which allowed to influence the rate of nitrogen fixation by regulating the mineral supply to plants.
  4. For different soil-climatic conditions the influence of soil environment reaction, redox properties, organic matter content, liming, application of organic and mineral fertilizers on microelement assimilation has been studied.
  5. Jan Voldmarovich studied the role of trace elements in biochemical processes of plants and in soil.
  6. Under the leadership of J.V. Peyve developed methods for determining the content of different forms of trace elements in the soil, methods of quantitative determination of soil trace elements.

N.P. Karpinsky

N.P. Karpinsky based on the results of experiments with fertilizers on different types of soils established the dependence of fertilizer action on the genesis and degree of soil cultivation.

Similar dependencies were determined by A.F. Tyulin, P.I. Andrianov, E.N. Rayon in the study of soil colloids, physical and physicochemical properties of soils, and established mechanisms of soil absorption of cations and anions of salts at different degrees of moisture and drying of soils.

N.P. Karpinsky and V.P. Zamyatin established the relationship between the concentration of phosphate ions in the salt extract (0.03 n. K2SO4) and phosphorus availability for plants.

V.A. Franceson

Vladimir Andreevich Frantseson (1902-1961) did a lot of work on studying the fertility of virgin and fallow lands and ways to influence it in the first years after plowing.

Since 1937 he headed the laboratory for the study of soil fertility of the chernozem zone, he studied water properties in the process of drying and wetting of chernozem soils. The generalized results of these studies were presented in his doctoral dissertation “Change of Agronomically Important Properties of Chernozem under the Influence of Drying and Wetting” (1948). In this work the conclusions of A.N. Lebedyantsev on the increase of nutrient mobility under the influence of soil drying and wetting were confirmed and the relationship of these phenomena with the destruction of soil aggregates was shown.

In 1948-1949. V.A. Frantseson headed an expedition to study the water-physical properties of soils in the Central Black Earth zone, the results of which were published in his work “Black Earth soils, their Genesis and Properties”.

Thanks to the scientific and practical results of his activity, the following provisions were deduced:

  1. Cultivation and domestication of soils is a new stage in the development of agronomic soil science, which should study not only soil types, but also man-made soils, that is, to study the genesis of various cultivated soils and their properties. V.A. Frantseson summarized the experimental material of soil-agrochemical surveys of the Black Earth zone and established a number of regularities with regard to the efficiency of mineral fertilizers depending on the properties and cultivation of soils.
  2. The study of water-physical properties of chernozem soils has shown the importance of measures for moisture conservation and overcoming drought as the most important measure for obtaining high yields and high fertilizer efficiency in non-irrigated areas. Rational use of moisture is possible with the proper use of fertilizers, as the optimal ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium greatly affects the expenditure of soil moisture. For this reason it is important to establish effective doses, ratios, and application techniques.
  3. As the transition from ordinary chernozems to powerful, leached and podzolized chernozems of the forest-steppe decreases the ability of soils to accumulate nitrates, respectively, the effectiveness of nitrogen fertilizers in this series increased.
  4. On soils poor in mobile phosphorus, the effectiveness of phosphorus fertilizers may decrease if not provided with sufficient mobile nitrogen.
  5. The low efficiency of phosphate meal on soils with high base saturation requires the development of special measures to increase the assimilability of phosphoric acid phosphate, such as the application of phosphate meal with physiologically acidic fertilizers; its composting with manure; application of phosphate meal under crops with an increased ability to absorb phosphate from it.

According to the effectiveness of phosphate meal V.A. Franceson singled out groups of areas in the Black Earth zone:

  • areas of continuous or predominant distribution of soils, on which the use of fertilizers is most effective. These include areas of leached and podzolized chernozems;
  • areas of partial distribution of soils, in which the application of phosphate rock is the most effective. These include areas with a predominance of thick and thick chernozems, as well as areas with leached and podzolic chernozems with high saturation with bases;
  • areas where the application of phosphate meal is effective subject to the provision of nitrogen, for example, in the crops of leguminous crops, with the application of nitrogen mineral fertilizers;
  • areas where special measures are required to increase the mobility of P2O5 phosphate meal. These include areas of distribution of common chernozems with very high saturation of bases (more than 93-95%).

A.T. Kirsanov

Alexander Trofimovich Kirsanov (1880-1941) contributed greatly to the development and introduction of new methods in experimental agrochemistry. He was distinguished by his broad outlook; his scientific and methodological developments and provisions are still of wide practical importance at the present time. Many of the state methods of agrochemical analysis of soils are associated with the name of A.T. Kirsanov.

He paid much attention to the development of methods for determining mobile phosphates, which allowed already in 1931 to issue the first charts of the content of mobile phosphates in various soils.

A.T. Kirsanov contributed to the theory and practice of liming of acidic soils, in explaining the nature of soil acidity, linking the methods of regulation of soil acidity with yield, with physical, physical and chemical properties of the soil, with biological processes such as nitrification, ammonification, biological absorption of nutrients by soil organisms.

In the second edition of the book “Liming as a Factor of Yield” (1930) A.T. Kirsanov reviewed in detail the experience of liming of soils in foreign countries and methodical approaches to determine the need for liming.

He also studied the problem of the use of potassium and the mutual influence of potassium and nitrogen fertilizers. The results of these studies were published in the works:

  • “Chemical Determination of Soil Need for Potassium Fertilizers” (1933),
  • “The Action of K on Different Soils at Different Concentrations of H, Ca, and N” (1934),
  • “The Reciprocal Dependence of the Action of Potassium and Nitrogen Fertilizers” (1935),
  • “Changes in the Content of N, P2O5, and K in the Barley Yield under the Influence of Soils and Fertilizers” (1938), etc.

Studying the interaction of different types of fertilizers, he concluded in 1934: “With a strong lack of potassium nitrogen fertilizers not only do not increase the yield, but even destroy it.

He believed that the effect of fertilizers is related to the presence of available forms of nutrients in the soil, the ratio of ions in the soil solution, moisture and fertility levels, the height of yields in previous years, the features of agricultural technology and other factors.

V.M. Klechkovsky

Vsevolod Mavrikievich Klechkovsky (1900-1972) was a leading researcher in the field of agrochemistry and radioecology, he developed methodology and application of labeled atom method in agrochemistry and biochemistry. The creation and development of radioecology and agrochemistry of radioactive fission products occupied a special place in his studies, the results of these studies were recognized worldwide.

In 1947 V.M. Klechkovsky organized the Laboratory of Biophysics at K.A. Timiryazev Moscow Agricultural Academy, where later such scientists as A.G. Shestakov, I.V. Gulyakin, E.V. Yudintseva and others worked. During the first five years of the laboratory’s work, the main regularities in the behavior of radionuclides in soil, the magnitude of their transfer from soil to plants, and their quantitative accumulation in various plant parts were discovered.

Later, large studies were carried out to determine the conditions of radionuclide intake into plants and the factors that reduce accumulation in crop yields. These results remain relevant to this day, especially in the cultivation of plants on agricultural lands subjected to radioactive contamination. One of the methods of reducing the radionuclide content in the soil is the introduction of mineral and organic fertilizers.

V.M. Klechkovsky (1900-1972) was also engaged in questions of phosphate nutrition of plants, quantitative regularities of fertilizers and optimum ratio of nutrition elements in plants.

V.M. Klechkovsky stressed that the development of agrochemistry was based and would be based on the understanding of mechanisms of metabolism of substances and energy up to the deepest levels: submolecular, molecular, subcellular and cellular.

V.M. Klechkovsky and A.V. Vladimirov dealt with the problem of slag application. As a result of studies it was shown that in the interaction of phosphates with soil the processes of exchange absorption and chemical precipitation take place. Absorption of phosphate ions in soils saturated with bases is explained by the formation of calcium phosphates. However, the sorption of labeled 32P was the same even when potassium rather than calcium was in the absorbed state in the soil. The use of labeled atoms made it possible to study the effect of pellet size, pellet depth, and embedding frequency on 32P uptake into plants. It was shown that the distribution of 32P over plant organs during foliar application of phosphorus is slow and uneven. The labeled atom method showed that the difference utilization factor is inaccurate because soil phosphorus can be used more efficiently when phosphorus is applied in rows due to better plant development. Whereas soil phosphorus may also decrease in the presence of readily available forms.

V.M. Klechkovsky was a pupil of D.N. Pryanishnikov. He attached great importance to chemicalization:

“Chemization is a mighty lever of technical progress in agriculture…it would be a great delusion to hope that chemization can develop successfully without simultaneous, and not only simultaneous, but also ahead of the development of its scientific basis – agrochemistry. Enormous resources are invested in chemistry. The first duty of scientists is the effective scientific justification of chemicalization measures”.

V.M. Klechkovsky

D.N. Pryanishnikov to the question – who is an agrochemist? – answered: “An agrochemist is the best agronomist among chemists and the best chemist among agronomists”. V.M. Klechkovsky emphasized that an agrochemist should have a high level of fundamental knowledge in chemistry, physics and mathematics. Expressing gratitude to his teachers, he said that they brought up by their example the readiness to defend the scientific truth, scientific positions and irreconcilability to dogmatism, adventurism and short-sightedness. For there is nothing more dangerous to the authority of science than scientifically clothed ignorance.

V.M. Klechkovsky

Vsevolod Mavrikievich Klechkovsky (1900-1972) was a leading researcher in the field of agrochemistry and radioecology, he developed methodology and application of labeled atom method in agrochemistry and biochemistry. The creation and development of radioecology and agrochemistry of radioactive fission products occupied a special place in his studies, the results of these studies were recognized worldwide.

In 1947 V.M. Klechkovsky organized the Laboratory of Biophysics at K.A. Timiryazev Moscow Agricultural Academy, where later such scientists as A.G. Shestakov, I.V. Gulyakin, E.V. Yudintseva and others worked. During the first five years of the laboratory’s work, the main regularities in the behavior of radionuclides in soil, the magnitude of their transfer from soil to plants, and their quantitative accumulation in various plant parts were discovered.

Later, large studies were carried out to determine the conditions of radionuclide intake into plants and the factors that reduce accumulation in crop yields. These results remain relevant to this day, especially in the cultivation of plants on agricultural lands subjected to radioactive contamination. One of the methods of reducing the radionuclide content in the soil is the introduction of mineral and organic fertilizers.

V.M. Klechkovsky (1900-1972) was also engaged in questions of phosphate nutrition of plants, quantitative regularities of fertilizers and optimum ratio of nutrition elements in plants.

V.M. Klechkovsky stressed that the development of agrochemistry was based and would be based on the understanding of mechanisms of metabolism of substances and energy up to the deepest levels: submolecular, molecular, subcellular and cellular.

V.M. Klechkovsky and A.V. Vladimirov dealt with the problem of slag application. As a result of studies it was shown that in the interaction of phosphates with soil the processes of exchange absorption and chemical precipitation take place. Absorption of phosphate ions in soils saturated with bases is explained by the formation of calcium phosphates. However, the sorption of labeled 32P was the same even when potassium rather than calcium was in the absorbed state in the soil. The use of labeled atoms made it possible to study the effect of pellet size, pellet depth, and embedding frequency on 32P uptake into plants. It was shown that the distribution of 32P over plant organs during foliar application of phosphorus is slow and uneven. The labeled atom method showed that the difference utilization factor is inaccurate because soil phosphorus can be used more efficiently when phosphorus is applied in rows due to better plant development. Whereas soil phosphorus may also decrease in the presence of readily available forms.

V.M. Klechkovsky was a pupil of D.N. Pryanishnikov. He attached great importance to chemicalization:

“Chemization is a mighty lever of technical progress in agriculture…it would be a great delusion to hope that chemization can develop successfully without simultaneous, and not only simultaneous, but also ahead of the development of its scientific basis – agrochemistry. Enormous resources are invested in chemistry. The first duty of scientists is the effective scientific justification of chemicalization measures”.

V.M. Klechkovsky

D.N. Pryanishnikov to the question – who is an agrochemist? – answered: “An agrochemist is the best agronomist among chemists and the best chemist among agronomists”. V.M. Klechkovsky emphasized that an agrochemist should have a high level of fundamental knowledge in chemistry, physics and mathematics. Expressing gratitude to his teachers, he said that they brought up by their example the readiness to defend the scientific truth, scientific positions and irreconcilability to dogmatism, adventurism and short-sightedness. For there is nothing more dangerous to the authority of science than scientifically clothed ignorance.

N.S. Avdonin

Nikolay Sergeevich Avdonin (1903-1979) developed the most important scientific and practical provisions in agrochemistry, under his leadership at the Department of Agrochemistry of M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University conducted multidimensional fundamental and applied research.

In the early 50’s N.S. Avdonin performed research on the justification of the effectiveness of granulated superphosphate in comparison with powdered one. The decrease in the retrogradation of phosphoric acid of granular superphosphate in soil was explained by the activation of microbiological processes in the sphere around the granules, which leads to a decrease in chemical immobilization of phosphorus. The results of these studies were summarized and published in the books: “Granular Fertilizers” and “Application of Granular Superphosphate”.

Under the leadership of N.S. Avdonin studies on the relationship between soil properties, fertilizer use and resistance of wintering cultivated plants to adverse conditions in the winter-spring period were set. The study of biochemical reactions occurring in wintering plants on examples of transformations of carbohydrates, nitrogenous substances, ash elements, activity of invertase, catalase, peroxidase and proteolytic enzymes showed that the death of plants in winter on sod-podzolic soils occurs due to the negative effects of unfavorable soil properties and wintering conditions. The results of this work were published in the monograph “Issues of Farming on Acidic Soils.

At the Department of Agrochemistry of Moscow State University under the supervision of N.S. Avdonin, the influence of soil properties and fertilizers on the quality of plant products was studied. The results showed the dependence of quality on soil cultivation, which was estimated by the content of protein substances, essential amino acids, various carbohydrates (glucose, sucrose, starch), vitamins, carotenes, composition of ash substances. After generalization, these data were published in the book “Soils, Fertilizers and Quality of Plant Products”.

N.I. Vavilov

Nikolay Ivanovich Vavilov (1887-1943) was an outstanding agronomist-plant breeder, geneticist, plant breeder, geographer, teacher and organizer of agricultural science, the founder of the doctrine of biological bases of breeding.

N.I. Vavilov based on a series of field and vegetation experiments on the effects of nitrogen and potassium fertilizers on the immune system of plants came to the conclusion that immunity depends in a complex way on environmental conditions. He confirmed this conclusion by studying the effect of macro- and micronutrients on plant immunity of new wheat and oat varieties that differ in resistance to brown and yellow rust. He considered soil acidity as one of the factors that can affect the immunity.

N.I. Vavilov always followed D.N. Pryanishnikov’s doctrine of agrochemistry as a plant-soil-fertilizer system, emphasizing the importance of mineral fertilizers for agriculture. Therefore, he welcomed with satisfaction the discovery of deposits of potassium and phosphoric acid salts in Solikamsk and Khibiny. He wrote about it that it put the problem of chemicalization of agriculture in a new way – from academic study of mineral fertilizers production on an industrial scale, with its actual absence, the country started to use them on a wide scale. In his opinion, the expansion of mineral fertilizer production is one of the conditions for further development of agriculture.

Based on the results of research on the effectiveness of mineral and organic fertilizers, as well as liming of soils in the collective and state farms of the Leningrad region, he identified areas of the most effective use of fertilizers in crop rotations in combination with methods of agricultural engineering. In his article “Problems of Northern Farming” (1931) N.I. Vavilov wrote that the main condition for this was chemical reclamation and application of organic and mineral fertilizers, drawing attention to the undervaluation of manure.

N.I. Vavilov called for a differentiated approach in the use of fertilizers and warned against template application of any measures.

He noted that the chemicalization of agriculture in Russia requires systematic research, jointly with scientists from other areas.

S.I. Wolfkowitz

Semen Isaakovich Wolfkovich (1896-1980) was an outstanding scientist-chemist who greatly contributed to the development and improvement of mineral fertilizer production technologies. He headed the research on the processing of Khibiny apatitenepheline ores into concentrated fertilizers, fluoride salts and rare-earth metal compounds; he participated in the launching of the first ammonia synthesis shop and in the development of the technology for the production and conditioning of ammonium nitrate.

S.I. Wolfkovich initiated the research of technology of urea production and was an active supporter of its application. Later together with his collaborators he proposed a method of producing phosphate and polyphosphate urea, i.e. a triple fertilizer – carboammophoska.

After the discovery of the largest Verkhnekamskoe potassium salt deposit, he and his collaborators proposed a technology for processing sylvinite and carnallite to produce potassium-nitrogen and magnesium fertilizers.

Extensive theoretical and production research of S.I. Wolfkovich, his students and collaborators became the basis for the creation and development of the production of defluorinated phosphates, ammonium and sodium phosphates, mono- and dicalcium phosphates that became common as feed additives for cattle breeding.

Back in 1962 S.I. Wolfkovich called for increasing the rate of production of mineral fertilizers and microfertilizers, defined the direction of expanding their range and improving their quality by increasing the concentration of nutrients in fertilizers and release of complex mixed fertilizers, which include macro- and microelements, the release of nitrogen and complex fertilizers in liquid form, called for the production of chloride-free potash fertilizers, the production of slowly soluble nitrogen and complex fertilizers based on urea polymerization products.

V.A. Kovda

Victor Abramovich Kovda (1904-1991) was a professor at Moscow University who had a significant influence on the development of ecological research in agrochemistry. In his works related to agrochemistry and geochemistry, a new direction of agrogeochemical research was created.

In his work “The Basics of Soil Science” (1973) he wrote that cultivated (artificial) biogeocenoses, guided by the mind and labor of man, produce organic products of food and industrial value. Obtaining the most sustainable biological production from biogeocenoses is possible when humans correctly influence the links of this complex system… Efficiency of management of cultivated ecosystems is possible when the mechanism, essence and history of interrelations of soil, organisms and environmental conditions are understood.

Fertility of soil is one of the most important conditions of human life on the Earth. Optimization of soil chemical composition by agrochemical means not only increases soil fertility but also prevents some endemic diseases of man and animals.

A universal and important result of the biological cycle of substances and biogenic transformation of rocks, formation and mineralization of organic matter was the ubiquitous emergence of the humus horizon on land. This thin shell of the energetically and biologically most active part of the soil cover determines the level and potential of fertility.

V.A. Kovda draws attention to the necessity of applying a complex of measures to preserve and reproduce humus in the soil:

Natural soil fertility without the application of mineral and organic fertilizers, even on good soils, cannot provide stable grain yields above 2.5-3.0 t/ha. On podzolic, gray forest, dried bog soils without fertilizers yields do not exceed 0.8-1.2 t/ha; on irrigated sierozem, chernozem or chestnut soils – 2.5-3.0, but more often 1.5-2.0 t/ha. To ensure yields at the level of 5-6 and even more 7-10 t/ha it is necessary to create and maintain a favorable biochemical soil background, high energy content of soil with humus content of 5-6%, sufficient moisture, nutrients and carbon dioxide.

The success of future farming V.A. Kovda associated with the use of mineral fertilizers, believing that industrial fertilizers are and will remain in the foreseeable future one of the main ways to increase the productivity of agricultural production.

“One of the tasks of modern agrochemistry is to increase the efficiency of mineral fertilizers in every possible way and at the same time to study the ecological consequences of intensive chemicalization of agriculture… In developed countries where highly productive agricultural production is based on the intensive use of fertilizers, the latter become the environmental factor enhancing the cycle of biophilic elements through soil and groundwater, plants and soil microorganisms”.

V.A. Kovda

P.G. Naidin

P.G. Naidin (1893-1969) was the initiator and leader of the All-Union geographic network of experiments with fertilizers All-Union Institute of Fertilizers and Agrochemistry, the author of over 150 scientific and popular scientific works on the use of fertilizers in different regions of Russia, experimental methods, the construction of fertilizer systems in crop rotations.

Agrochemists of the CIS (former USSR) countries

Pyotr Antipovich Vlasyuk (1905-1980) – Honored Scientist of the Ukrainian SSR, Academician of the All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the Ukrainian SSR Academy of Sciences. He was engaged in research in plant nutrition physiology, soil science and geochemistry. Many works are devoted to the influence of organic substances, biogenic macro- and microelements, physiologically active substances on the growth and development of plants.

When studying plant nutrition, he was the first in Ukraine to use the method of labeled atoms, which allowed determining the physiological features of phosphorus compounds in carbohydrate synthesis in various organs of sugar beet and the role of sulfur in amino acids and protein biosynthesis.

P.A. Vlasyuk paid much attention to the study of the biological role of manganese, molybdenum, boron and zinc in plant life, in different aspects: as biogenic nutrients, components of enzyme systems, activators and inhibitors (depending on concentrations) of plant growth and development processes.

Alexander Ivanovich Dushechkin (1874-1956) – Honored Scientist of the Ukrainian SSR, the founder of scientific agrochemical school of Ukraine. He paid much attention to the research of dynamics of nitrogen changes in soil depending on fertilizers and other factors; forms and dynamics of phosphorus transformation in soil and ways of increasing efficiency of phosphorus fertilizers, nutrient inflow to plants, rational methods of fertilizer application, application of local fertilizers.

Ivan Georgievich Rozhdestvensky (1901-1977). He contributed to the development of agrochemical science and the development of fertilizer systems in beet crop rotations. He substantiated the conditions of effective use of potassium salts, various forms of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers, depending on soil and climatic conditions, expediency of complex application of potassium chloride and sulfate, sodium, magnesium and calcium for sugar beet, as well as concentrated fertilizers and fertilizer mixtures.

Nikolai Kontantinovich Krupsky (Ukraine) – paid much attention to the development of fundamental agrochemical research. Under his leadership, studies were conducted to establish the nature of soil acidity, which allowed to develop a new direction in the liming of soils. For the first time he proposed to use electrometric methods of determination of ions in soils. Under his leadership were carried out fundamental studies of agrochemical indicators of soil fertility in Ukraine and their dynamics under the influence of fertilizers and agricultural practices.

Yuriy Konstantinovich Kudzin (1907-1978). The main direction of his research was the development of agrochemical bases of the fertilization system of crops in the rotation under their long-term use. He found that long-term systematic use reduces the effectiveness of superphosphate, increases the positive effect of nitrogen and potassium fertilizers, there is a need for zinc. For the first time he studied the effect of long-term use of fertilizers on the biological processes of black earth.

Tamara Nikandrovna Kulakovskaya (1919-1986) – academician of All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences, corresponding member of Belarusian SSR Academy of Sciences, served as director of the Institute of Soil Science and Agrochemistry. She conducted the research on improvement of methodology of development of fundamental provisions of agrochemistry and practice of application of organic and mineral fertilizers. She paid much attention to complex evaluation of soil fertility, studied the dynamics of soil nutrient balance in Belarus, improved methods of crop yield forecasting.

Studies on prediction of crop yields and soil properties led to the development of optimal indicators of land fertility in agro-ecosystems. Differentiation of doses of fertilizers, taking into account biological needs of crops, soil fertility and methods of agrotechnics allowed T.N. Kulakovskaya to substantiate and develop methods of calculation of fertilizer application rates for the planned yields.

Z.I. Zhurbitsky (1896-1986) studied the problems of plant nutrition theory and methods of vegetation experiments. He carried out research on differentiated plant nutrition and specifics of nutrition of individual crops.

Sergey Nesterovich Ivanov – Corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of Belarusian SSR. Developing the doctrine of K.K. Giedroytz about the soil absorbing complex, he investigated the dependence of the absorbing capacity of soils on the reaction of the environment, the type and concentration of cations. He paid much attention to the improvement of agrochemical research methods. Under his leadership, he developed methods to study potassium nutrition of plants using 86Rb and 85Rb as potassium tags, which allowed him to study plant nutrition processes at a higher theoretical level.

Robert Tenisovich Wildflush (1906-1972) (Belarus). He was engaged in researches in the field of soil liming, use of magnesium-containing lime fertilizers, biochemistry of plant nutrition, influence of Ca and Mg ratio on nitrogen exchange in plants. Under his supervision the fundamental research on the development of physiological bases and practical aspects of local and other methods of fertilizer and microfertilizer application was carried out for the first time in Byelorussia.

Aleksander Arsen’evich Kalininsky (1915-1993) headed the Agrochemistry Department of Belarusian Agricultural Academy from 1973 till 1991. He was engaged in researches of efficiency of local application of fertilizers. On sod-podzolic soils of different granulometric composition and degree of cultivation he determined that the best effect of local application was achieved on loamy soils, on the contrary, on sandy ones – less effective. The results of these studies were summarized by him in his doctoral dissertation. On the initiative of A.A. Kalininsky were laid stationary experiments to study the methods of fertilizing in the field and forage crop rotations depending on the fertility level of sod-podzolic soils.

Kenges Imangazievich Imangaziev (Kazakhstan) established a number of regularities in the effect of fertilizers on different types of soils, for example, increasing the effectiveness of phosphorus fertilizers on soils from sierozem to mountain chestnut, and vice versa, nitrogen fertilizers – from chestnut to sierozem. On meadow soils established weak responsiveness of sugar beet to nitrogen fertilizers. The efficiency of mineral fertilizers for this crop is higher in irrigation conditions. When sugar beet is cultivated after grasses the need for phosphorus and potash fertilizers increases and nitrogen fertilizers – decreases. High efficiency is established from the action of stubble green fertilizers. Based on the results of experiments, he proposed a system of fertilizer in beet crop rotation.

Anna Terentyevna Ponomareva (Kazakhstan) was engaged in research to improve the effectiveness of fertilizers, taking into account the biological characteristics of crops and soil fertility, in particular the content of the soil of mobile forms of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

Engaged in the study of phosphate regime of soils in southern Kazakhstan, the results of which was the conclusion about the complex relationship between crop yields, fertility and fertilizer doses, noted the correlation between the effectiveness of phosphate fertilizers and the content of mobile phosphorus in the soil. Based on these studies, doses of phosphorus fertilizers under the main crops were proposed, the balance of phosphorus lands of Kazakhstan and the need of the republic in phosphorus fertilizers were determined.

Bayan Sapargalievich Basibekov (Kazakhstan) – was engaged in agrochemical research under irrigated agriculture in South Kazakhstan. Studies carried out in long-term stationary experiments have shown that making full (NPK) mineral fertilizer in crop rotation increases potential and effective fertility of irrigated light-chestnut soils, providing, in turn, high and stable yields of beet crop rotation: alfalfa hay, sugar beet root crops, winter wheat grain.

For conditions of Southern Kazakhstan under irrigation of light chestnut soils to obtain high yields, good quality and keeping deficit-free balance of humus and phosphorus he calculated nitrogen removal for rotation of rotation, which must be compensated by 60%, phosphorus depending on the security of soil mobile phosphorus: the low – 120%, average – 100%, high – 60%. With a high supply of soils with potassium, the removal of crops reimbursed by 25%.

Among the scientists-agrochemists of Kazakhstan are R.E. Eleshev, V.E. Chernenok, S.B. Ramazanov, A.S. Satarov, S.Z. Yelyubaev.

Petr Andrianovich Kurchatov (1898-1955) (Moldova) – developed the theoretical provisions and practical methods of soil fertility management, improvement of crop yields and product quality.

Konstantin Lukjanovich Zagorcha (Moldova) – investigated plant nutrition and the role of fertilizers in obtaining high crop yields and product quality, was engaged in the development of methods of increasing the fertility, improving the physical, chemical, physical and biological properties of the black earth soils.

Stepan Grigorievich Bondarenko (Moldova) was involved in development and use in agrochemistry and viticulture of mathematical methods and computer technology, the system approach and methods of calculation of energy intensity of grape production technologies.

Mihail Alexandrovitch Turcan (Moldova) was involved in the development of fertilizer systems, studied agrochemical and technological issues of organic fertilizers, their effect on the reproduction of soil fertility, crop productivity, improving product quality, solved environmental problems.

The agrochemical scientists of Moldova were Simon Ivanovich Toma, Serafim Vasilievich Andriesh, Petru Vasilievich Cordunianu, Porfirii Nikolaevich Cordunianu.

Scientists-agrochemists of the Baltic republics:

  • Lithuania: K.I. Plesiavicius, P.K. Vasinauskas, A.I. Zalinė, J.B. Adomavičiūtė;
  • Latvia: P.D. Barbanis, G.J. Rinkis, V.F. Nollendorf;
  • Estonia: O.G. Hallik, H.A. Kärblane, R.I. Toomre.

Transcaucasian republics:

  • Republic of Azerbaijan:
    • Academician D.A. Aliyev was engaged in the development of the theory of plant nutrition, photosynthesis, metabolism and formation of high productivity of cultivated plants.
    • Z.R.Movsumov – agrochemistry of nitrogen, he perfected the methods of research of phosphate regime of soils, studied the efficiency of phosphate fertilizers.
    • R.K. Huseynov;
    • M.I. Jafarov;
    • T.A. Aliyev and H.O. Gulahmedov dealt with the application of potassium fertilizers and potassium regime of soils;
    • A.N. Gulahmedov, N.A. Agayev and B.K. Shakuri dealt with soil microelement regime and efficiency of microfertilizers;
    • F.G. Akhundov and P.B. Zamanov – cotton and vegetable crops fertilization systems.
  • Armenia:
    • G.Sh. Aslanyan,
    • B.N. Astvatsatryan,
    • N.O. Avagyan,
    • Y.S. Harutyunyan,
    • G.B. Babayan.
  • Georgia:
    • Sh.R. Tsintsadze,
    • G.N. Urushadze,
    • I.D. Gamkrelidze,
    • I.D. Gamkrelidze, I.A. Nakaidze,
    • M.L. Baziava,
    • O.G. Oniani,
    • I.F. Sarishnili,
    • O.Y. Zardalishnili,
    • V. P. Tsanava,
    • G.N. Margvelashvili.

Scientists-agrochemists of the republics of Central Asia:

  • Uzbekistan: I.I. Madraimov, B.I. Machigin, N.N. Zelenin, G.I. Yarovenko, P.V. Protasov, B.M. Isaev, T.P. Kirakhunov, D.S. Sattarov.
  • Tajikistan: I.N. Antipov-Karataev, I.M. Lipkind, A.M. Mescheryakov, H.D. Djumankulov.
  • Turkmenistan: K.I. Semergey, A.S. Ibragimov, G.A. Dyuzhev.
  • Kyrgyzstan: N.G. Kornev.


Agrochemistry. Textbook / V.G. Mineev, V.G. Sychev, G.P. Gamzikov et al. – M.: Publishing house of the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute named after D.N. Pryanishnikov, 2017. – 854 с.

Yagodin B.A., Zhukov Y.P., Kobzarenko V.I. Agrochemistry / Edited by B.A. Yagodin. – Moscow: Kolos, 2002. – 584 p.: ill.