Julius Adolph Stöckhardt

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Julius Adolph Stöckhardt
Tomb in the cemetery in Tharandt

Julius Adolph Stöckhardt (born January 4, 1809 in Röhrsdorf near Meißen , † June 1, 1886 in Tharandt ) was a German agricultural chemist .

Live and act

Apprenticeship and studies

The son of a pastor from the Stöckhardt family of scholars trained as a pharmacist's assistant in Liebenwerda from 1824 to 1828 and then studied pharmacy and natural sciences at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Berlin . In 1833 he passed the chemical and pharmaceutical state examination and was named "First Class Pharmacist in Prussia". He then went on several study trips through German and Western European countries and made the acquaintance of famous chemists. From 1835 he worked in the laboratory of the mineral water factory of Friedrich Adolph August Struve in Dresden . In 1837 he obtained his doctorate at the Philosophical Faculty of the University of Leipzig with a dissertation in Latin on the methods of teaching natural sciences.

Trade teacher in Chemnitz

After leaving the Blochmann School of Education in Dresden, Stöckhardt was given a position as a teacher of natural sciences at the Royal Trade School in Chemnitz in mid-1838 . Here his further life was shaped by the book Justus von Liebig's published in 1840 The organic chemistry in its application to agriculture and physiology . Stöckhardt recognized that the theory of the mineral nutrition of plants propagated by Liebig would change agriculture permanently. Henceforth he saw it as his life's task to bring the results of scientific research closer to the farmers and to inspire them to apply the new findings of agricultural chemistry in their farms.

In addition to his school activities, Stöckhardt began to hold “chemical lectures” for farmers in Chemnitz in 1843, which were very well received. He documented his efforts to translate the strictly scientific language of chemistry into a form that was easy to understand with a textbook published in 1846 entitled " School of Chemistry ". With this work, true to his motto " Chemistry is, apart from its usefulness, which nobody will deny, a beautiful science ", which was particularly emphasized in the foreword of the book , he inspired numerous natural scientists for chemistry, including the later Nobel Prize winners Emil Fischer and Wilhelm Ostwald and Otto Hahn . Stöckhardt's " School of Chemistry " was one of the most successful chemistry textbooks of its time; it went through twenty editions and was translated into several languages.

Professor of Agricultural Chemistry

Stöckhardt building in Tharandt
Classicist house "Stöckhardt-Villa", Heinrich-Cotta Str. 19 in Tharandt

In 1847 Stöckhardt accepted a call to the Academy for Foresters and Farmers in Tharandt, founded by Heinrich Cotta . As a professor, he took over the newly established chair for agricultural chemistry and agricultural technology. He worked there for 36 years until he was retired in 1883. When he took up his duties, he set up an agricultural chemistry laboratory , the first of its kind in Saxony . Within a few years this laboratory, to which a test field was assigned, developed into an important research and training facility. Hermann Hellriegel and Julius Sachs , among others, worked here as assistants and received suggestions for their later activities. He brought Friedrich Nobbe to Tharandt.

From the beginning, Stöckhardt's laboratory was also an agricultural experimental station. Saxon farmers were able to have soil samples, fertilizers and animal feed examined here free of charge and to obtain "advice on agricultural chemistry". Stöckhardt strongly encouraged the establishment of such test stations in all parts of Germany. After Emil von Wolff founded the first large test station in Möckern near Leipzig in 1851 , he particularly campaigned for the construction of further test stations at the " Meetings of German Farmers and Foresters ". With visible success: in 1877 there were 59 agricultural test stations in the German states alone. Stöckhardt was the intellectual pioneer for this development. In his work as an expert in the context of the smelting disputes about the Saxon metal works in Freiberg, he conducted the direct evidence of damage for sulfur dioxide for the first time in 1849. In smoking experiments on forest plants in the 1860s, he was able to show that sulphurous acid could cause long-term damage even in a dilution of 1 to 1 million. Stöckhardt was not only one of the founders of chemical environmental analysis, but was also able to prove the importance of chronic environmental damage for the first time.

"The chemical field preacher"

Like no other agricultural scientist of his time, Stöckhardt brought the knowledge of agricultural chemistry closer to farmers through vivid lectures and popular scientific publications. He has given over 500 lectures in all parts of Germany and published over 500 articles in magazines. The farmers called his lectures "chemical field sermons" and they called himself a "chemical field preacher". When Stöckhardt published some of his lectures for the first time in a book in 1851, he chose the title Chemical Field Sermons for German Farmers . This work, published several times, provides a comprehensive overview of the fertilizers used in German agriculture around 1850.

Title page of the first edition of the journal Der Chemische Ackersmann , 1855

Stöckhardt published numerous articles in the Zeitschrift für deutsche Landwirthe , which he edited together with Hugo Schober from 1850 to 1854 . In 1855 Stöckhardt founded the quarterly magazine Der Chemische Ackersmann . He largely designed this journal himself, with the motto “Practice with Science” that precedes every title page. Most of the unauthorized contributions are from his pen. In the first issue (volume 1, 1855) he printed his famous poem about the plow under the title Agricultural Chemical Greetings to German Farmers . By 1875 Stöckhardt had published 21 volumes which impressively prove how he prepared scientific knowledge for agricultural practice in a language that was easy to understand, with a lot of humor and with a deeply impressive clarity.

Councilor, MP and member of the Leopoldina

Stöckhardt was a bearer of high orders and an honorary member of many agricultural associations. From 1854 he was councilor and in 1877 he was awarded the title of Privy Councilor .

As a deputy member of the 8th urban constituency, he was a member of the second chamber of the Saxon state parliament from 1857 to 1859 .

In 1866 he was elected a member of the Leopoldina .


At the Tharandt Institute for Plant and Wood Chemistry at the TU Dresden , a building, the Stöckhardt Building, is named after him. A chemistry club and chemistry competition are named after him at the Chemnitz University of Technology's Institute of Chemistry . Since 2019 there has been a 2000 euro prize for the promotion of innovative experiments in chemistry classes, which is awarded by the magazine " Chemistry in Our Time " and "Merck School Partnerships" and is also named after Julius Adolph Stöckhardt.

Most important books and writings

  • About the composition, recognition and use of colors in general and poisonous colors in particular, as well as about the precautionary measures when using the latter . Leipzig 1844. ( digitized version )
  • School of chemistry or first lesson in chemistry, made apparent through simple experiments. For school use and for self-instruction, especially for prospective pharmacists, farmers, tradespeople, etc. Braunschweig 1846, 19th ed. Ibid., 1881, 22nd ed. Ibid. 1920.
  • Guano booklet. An instruction for the German farmer about the effect, components, testing and application of this important fertilizer . Leipzig 1851, 4th edition 1856.
  • Chemical field sermons for German farmers . Tl. 1 u. 2, Leipzig 1851 a. 1853; 2nd edition ibid. 1853 and 1855; 3rd edition (in one volume) ibid. 1854; 4th edition, ibid. 1857.
  • The chemical farmer. Natural history journal for German farmers . Georg Wiegands Verlag Leipzig vol. 1–21, 1855–1875.
  • Investigations into the harmful effects of smelter and coal smoke on the growth of plants, especially spruce and fir . In: Tharander Forstliches Jahrbuch, 21st vol. (1871), pp. 218-254.

Web links


  • F. Nobbe: Julius Adolph Stöckhardt . In: The agricultural experimental stations, Vol. 33, 1887, pp. 424–433 (with picture).
  • Franz Mammen: Julius Adolph Stöckhardt's works . In: Tharandter Forstliches Jahrbuch Vol. 53, supplement, 1903, pp. 1-52 (complete bibliography).
  • A. Goldeberg: Eighty years of Adolph Stöckhardt's School of Chemistry . In: Report of the Natural Science Society in Chemnitz No. 22 for the period from 1925 to 1927, 1928, pp. 33–45 (with picture).
  • Otto Wienhaus, Walter Löscher, Werner Hentschel, Sabine Meynhardt, Mathias Weinrich: Julius Adolph Stöckhardt - a pioneer for interdisciplinary work, cooperation with practice and the popularization of scientific knowledge . In: Zeitschrift für Chemie Vol. 26, 1986, pp. 269-275 (with picture).
  • Wolfgang Böhm : Julius Adolph Stöckhardt (1809-1886) - pioneer of the agricultural experimental stations . In: Landwirtschaftliche Forschung Vol. 39, 1986, pp. 1-7 (with picture).
  • A. Andersen: Historical technology assessment using the example of the metalworking and chemical industries 1850-1933 . Stuttgart 1996.
  • Otto Wienhaus and Günter Marx: The chemical field preacher . In: Nachrichten aus der Chemie Vol. 56, 2008, pp. 1253-1255 (with picture).
  • Gisela Boeck: For her 200th birthday. Julius Adolph Stöckhardt . In: Chemistry in our time vol. 43, 2009, pp. 22–77 (with picture).
  • Bernhard LepsiusAdolf Stöckhardt . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 36, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1893, pp. 288-290.

Individual evidence

  1. Josef Matzerath : Aspects of the Saxon State Parliament History - Presidents and Members of Parliament from 1833 to 1952 , Saxon State Parliament 2001, p. 130
  2. ^ Member entry by Adolph Stöckhardt at the German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina , accessed on February 12, 2016.
  3. chemistry and chemistry Club Competition - Julius Adolph Stöckhardt. Chemnitz University of Technology, accessed on September 23, 2016 .
  4. ^ Klaus Griesar: Julius-Adolph-Stöckhardt-Preis. January 31, 2019, accessed February 20, 2019 .