Fritz Scheffer

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Fritz Scheffer

Johann Friedrich (Fritz) Wilhelm Scheffer (born March 20, 1899 in Haldorf , Schwalm-Eder district , † July 1, 1979 in Göttingen ) was a German soil scientist . Through exemplary teaching and research, he had a decisive influence on the pedological, agricultural, chemical and agricultural thinking of his time for several decades.

Life path

Fritz Scheffer, son of a farmer, studied chemistry, physics and mathematics at the universities in Marburg and Breslau from 1919 to 1922 , then agriculture at the University of Göttingen , where he worked with the soil scientist Edwin Blanck in 1924 with a dissertation on the transformation of quicklime in the soil and graduated in 1925 with the state examination as a qualified farmer. From 1926 he worked as a scientific assistant to Theodor Roemer at the Institute for Plant Cultivation and Plant Breeding at the University of Halle (Saale). Here he completed his habilitation in 1931 with a thesis on the problem of soil fertility .

From 1931 to 1935 Scheffer was a lecturer in agricultural chemistry and soil science at the University of Halle. He was able to deepen his specialist knowledge through study visits to the Rutgers University (NJ, USA) with the microbiologists and humus chemists Jacob Goodale Lipman and Selman Abraham Waksman and at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich with the agricultural chemist Georg Wiegner .

Scheffer joined the NSDAP in April 1933 and was also a member of the SA since 1933 . In 1935 he took over the management of the agricultural research station in Kassel-Harleshausen . In 1936 he accepted an appointment as professor for agricultural chemistry at the University of Jena as the successor to Hans Wießmann . At the same time he took over the management of the Thuringian agricultural research station. In 1945 he succeeded his teacher Edwin Blanck at the University of Göttingen . As a full professor and director of the Institute for Agricultural Chemistry and Soil Science, he worked here until his retirement in 1967 (from 1964 on the shared chair of "Soil Science").

Teaching and Research

Fritz Scheffer's work focused on topics related to humus , its effect, improvement and reproduction in the sense of maintaining and promoting soil fertility , derived from the knowledge that nutrient replacement alone is not enough to secure the productivity of a soil in the long term. In addition to humus research, however, he has also initiated significant work in the fields of soil genetics , soil chemistry , colloid chemistry , organic and inorganic fertilization , and research on the rhizosphere and growth substances . At his workplaces in Halle, Jena and Göttingen he led a total of 111 doctoral students to doctorate. With more than 300 publications in specialist journals, which he wrote himself or under his direction, fundamental articles in handbooks and several textbooks, he has had a pioneering influence on the content and methodology of soil science, agricultural chemistry and agriculture.

Fritz Scheffer's name became famous primarily through two textbooks. Together with Theodor Roemer , he wrote an agricultural theory , the first edition of which appeared in 1933. After Roemer's death, Fritz Scheffer published further editions together with Otto Tornau as a textbook on agriculture : the last (fifth) edition appeared in 1959. Roemer and Scheffer published a less extensive edition of this textbook designed for farmers under the title Grundriß des Ackerbaues first time in 1948.

Fritz Scheffer's second important work is a textbook on soil science. First conceived in 1937 as a relatively narrow booklet as part of a comprehensive overall work on agricultural chemistry, Scheffer later published the soil science part together with Paul Schachtschabel as an independent work, from the 6th edition (1966) under the title Textbook of Soil Science . From the 9th edition (1976), other specialist representatives are also involved as authors. After Fritz Scheffer's death, six further editions have appeared so far (15th edition 2002). This textbook, known in specialist circles as the "Scheffer Schachtschabel", is one of the international standard works of scientific soil science.

Of the basic overview contributions by Fritz Scheffer in specialist journals and handbooks, the following should be emphasized: the published lecture Preservation and Enhancement of Soil Fertility (1947) and the treatise Soil as Location of Plants (1952) published in the Handbuch der Landwirtschaft Fritz Scheffer has repeatedly commented on questions of content and method, as well as the history of his specialist field. Noteworthy is his contribution The soil research and its tasks within the framework of the sister disciplines (1962) and his brochure 50 Years of the German Soil Science Society (1976). From 1950 to 1979 Fritz Scheffer was co-editor of the journals plant nutrition, fertilization, soil science and agricultural research . Most of his scientific contributions have appeared in these two journals.

honors and awards

Due to his outstanding professional competence, Scheffer was elected to leading positions in agricultural science institutions at an early stage. From 1948 to 1956 he was Vice President of the Association of German Agricultural Inspection and Research Institutes (VDLUFA). The German Soil Science Society, in whose re-establishment he played a key role after the Second World War, elected him from 1951 to 1955 as its managing director. From 1955 to 1969 he was president of this society. In this function he was able to re-establish numerous contacts with foreign specialist colleagues that had been interrupted by the war.

Since 1964 Scheffer was a member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina in Halle and a corresponding member of several foreign academies. In 1971 the German Soil Science Society and in 1974 the Association of German Agricultural Investigations and Research Institutes awarded him honorary membership.

In 1958 he was awarded by the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Jena , the honorary doctorate . In 1961 the University of Pisa awarded him the Cherubino Order in Gold, in 1964 the German Agricultural Society awarded him the Silver Max Eyth Medal and in 1968 the Association of German Agricultural Research and Research Institutes the Hugo Neubauer Award . In 1975 he was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit.

Since 1987, the German Soil Science Society has awarded the Fritz Scheffer Prize to young scientists for outstanding scientific achievements in the field of soil science.

Books and writings

  • About the type of transformation of quick lime in the soil and its causes . Diss. Math.-nat. University of Göttingen 1925.
  • About the problem of soil fertility. A contribution to Liebig's saying: Not the fertility of the earth, but the duration of fertility lies in the will of the people . Habil.-Schr. University of Halle 1931. At the same time in: Scientific Archive for Agriculture Dept. A, Archive for Plant Cultivation, Vol. 8, 1931, pp. 127–186.
  • Theodor Roemer and Fritz Scheffer: Arable farming . Paul Parey Berlin 1933; 2nd edition 1944; from 3rd edition 1949 under the title Textbook of Agriculture ; 4th edition (1953) and 5th edition (1959) ibid. Revised by F. Scheffer and O. Tornau.
  • Scheffer and Schachtschabel: Textbook of soil science . - The first editions appeared in the "Collection of chemical and chemical-technical lectures" (new series, no. 35 a – c) published by Ferdinand Enke Stuttgart under the title Agrikulturchemie : Part a: Boden, 1937; 2nd edition 1944. Part b: Plant nutrition 1938; 2nd edition 1946; 3rd edition with Erwin Welte 1955. Part c: Humus and humus fertilizer 1941; 2nd edition with Bernhard Ulrich 1959. Scheffer later published part a Boden as an independent work together with Paul Schachtschabel: 3rd edition ibid 1952; 4th edition 1956; 5th edition 1960. All the following editions appeared under the title Textbook of Soil Science : 6th edition ibid 1966; 7th edition 1970; 8th edition 1973. From the 9th edition (1976) other soil scientists are also involved as employees. After Scheffer's death: 10th edition in 1979; 11th edition 1982; 12th edition 1989; 13th edition 1992; 14th edition 1998; 15th edition, revised and expanded by Hans-Peter Blume et al. Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, Heidelberg and Berlin 2002; 16th edition revised by Hans-Peter Blume et al. Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, Heidelberg 2010.
  • The farm's own humus fertilizer . Reichsnährstand Verlags-Gesellschaft Berlin 1939 = Work of the Reichsnährstand Volume 62.
  • Chemical nature of the soil . In: Handbuch der Bodenlehre . Edited by Edwin Blanck 1st supplementary volume. J. Springer Verlag, Berlin 1939, pp. 275-376.
  • Preservation and increase of soil fertility . Lecture given to invited guests on November 15, 1946. Verlag der Landwirtschaftskammer Hannover: Hannover [1947].
  • Theodor Roemer and Fritz Scheffer: Outline of the arable farming theory . Publisher Paul Parey Berlin 1948; 2nd edition 1949; 3rd edition under the title Ground plan of agriculture, ibid 1950.
  • Soil as the location of the plants . In: Handbuch der Landwirtschaft 2nd edition; Published by Theodor Roemer et al., Verlag Paul Parey Berlin, Vol. 1 Ackerbaulehre, pp. 1-51.
  • Nutrition and fertilization of plants . In: Handbuch der Landwirtschaft 2nd edition, Verlag Paul Parey Berlin, Vol. 1 Ackerbaulehre, pp. 353–462.
  • The organically bound nitrogen of the soil, its usability (also urea) . In: Handbuch der Pflanzenphysiologie ; Published by Wilhelm Ruhland. Julius Springer Verlag Berlin, Vol. 8, 1958, pp. 179-200.
  • The humus. Structure, properties and plant physiological effects (together with Bernhard Ulrich). In: Handbuch der Pflanzenphysiologie ; Published by Wilhelm Ruhland Julius, Springer Verlag Berlin, Vol. 11, 1959, pp. 782-824.
  • Soil science and its tasks within the framework of its sister disciplines . In: Journal for plant nutrition, fertilization, soil science, Vol. 98 (143), 1962, pp. 18-29.
  • 1926 - 1976. 50 years of the German Soil Science Society . DBG brochure, o. O. [1976].


  • Prof. F. Scheffer 60 years old . In: Mitteilungen der Deutschen Landwirtschafts-Gesellschaft Vol. 74, 1959, pp. 350–351 (with picture).
  • On the 60th birthday of Prof. Dr., Dr. hc Scheffer . In: Die Deutsche Landwirtschaft Vol. 10, 1959, p. 309.
  • L. Schmitt and E. Welte: For Fritz Scheffer's 60th birthday . In: Landwirtschaftliche Forschung Vol. 12, 1959, pp. 1–2 (with picture).
  • Festschrift for Fritz Scheffer . Published for his 65th birthday and taken care of by his students. Self-published by the Schefferschüler district of Göttingen in 1964. A tribute to p. 1 (with picture).
  • O. Siegel: In memoriam of Professor Dr. Dr. hc Fritz Scheffer . In: Landwirtschaftliche Forschung Vol. 32, 1979, pp. 359-360 (with picture).
  • In memory of Fritz Scheffer * March 20, 1899 in Haldorf † July 1, 1979 in Göttingen . Service and speeches on the occasion of the funeral on July 5, 1979 in Haldorf. Private print not specified 1979 (with picture).
  • Bernhard Scheffer: Publications by Prof. Dr. Dr. hc Fritz Scheffer . In: Mitteilungen der Deutschen Bodenenkundliche Gesellschaft Vol. 89, 1999, pp. 5-38 (with picture, tabular curriculum vitae and list of the dissertations supervised by F. Scheffer).
  • Hans-Peter Blume:  Scheffer, Johann Friedrich (Fritz) Wilhelm. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 22, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-428-11203-2 , p. 612 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Henrik Eberle: The Martin Luther University in the time of National Socialism. Mitteldeutscher Verlag, Halle 2002, ISBN 3-89812-150-X , p. 435f.
  • Theophil Gerber: personalities from agriculture, forestry, horticulture and veterinary medicine. NORA Berlin, 4th ext. 2014 edition, pp. 667–668

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Fritz Scheffer Prize .