V. V. Dokuchaev Soil Science Institute

About the Institute

of the USSR Supreme Soviet Presidium
On awarding V.V.Dokuchaev Soil Science Institute
the order of Labor Red Banner
For services to the country in the area of agricultural science development V.V.Dokuchaev Soil Science Institute is awarded with the order of Labor Red Banner.


V.V.Dokuchaev Soil Science Institute has been established on April 2, 1927 as an independent scientific institution of the USSR Academy of Sciences. Its predecessor was the Soil Science Commission, created in St.-Petersburg in 1888 according to V.V.Dokuchaev's initiative as a part of the Free Economic Society and had been reorganized in 1913 into the Dokuchaev Soil Science Committee. In 1918, under F.Yu.Levinson-Lessing's leadership, the Soil Science Department of the Commission for Study of Natural Production Forces (CSNPF) has been established on the base of the Committee, and then in 1925 the Soil Science Institute has been created at CSNPF. On April 1927 the General Assembly of the USSR Academy of Sciences, basing on F.Yu.Levinson-Lessing's and V.I.Vernadsky's memo, has made a decision on transferring CSNPF's Soil Science Institute into the USSR Academy of Sciences system i.e. on creation of the independent V.V.Dokuchaev Soil Science Institute under direct guidance of the USSR Academy of Sciences Presidium. Pedology has been considered as a fundamental academic science.

The V.V.Dokuchaev Soil Science Institute was more than 30 years (up to 1961) within the USSR Academy of Sciences system as a leading pedology institution. From 1961 it is one of the main institutes in the All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences (VASKhNIL) and then in the Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences (RAAS).

Academician K.D.Glinka was the first director of the Institute. Then the directors were academicians F.Yu.Levinson-Lessing (1927-1929), K.K.Hedroitz (1929-1930), B.A.Keller (1931-1932), B.B.Polynov (1932-1937), L.I.Prasolov (1937-1949), I.V.Tyurin (1949-1962), VASKhNIL corresponding member S.N. Ryzhov (1962-1964), VASKhNIL academician V.V.Egorov (1964-1981), RAAS academician L.L.Shishov (1981-2000). From 2001 the Institute is being headed by academician of the International Academy for Informatization, Professor, Renowned Scientist of the RF V.A.Rojkov.

Up to 1934 the Institute was located in Leningrad, and then it has been moved to Moscow. Up to 1931 the Institute consisted of the department for soil mapping and geography, headed by L.I.Prasolov, several zone groups under leadership of such famous soil scientists as B.B.Polynov, S.S.Neustruev, N.I.Prokhorov, A.M.Pankov, M.I.Rojanets, and the soil science museum.

The Institute's experimental and laboratory base primarily consisted of three laboratories, namely: the soil chemical laboratory (K.K.Hedroitz), the laboratory of soil mineralogy (P.A.Zemyatchensky), and the laboratory of mass analysis (N.I.Sokolov). The period of 1931-1933 was the time for creation of several problematic and methodological laboratories, namely: the laboratory of soil fertility (A.T.Kirsanov), the laboratory of saline soils (B.B.Polynov), the laboratory of biochemistry (I.V.Tyurin), the laboratory of physics (A.M.Pankov, then A.F.Lebedev, N.A.Kachinsky), the laboratory of physics and chemistry (I.N.Antipov-Karataev), the laboratory of soil erosion (A.M.Pankov), the office of microbiology (N.N.Sushkina). In 1935-1937 the following laboratories have been organized, namely: the laboratory of soil chemistry (A.A.Rode), the X-ray laboratory (L.D.Sedletsky) and the spectral laboratory (D.N.Ivanov).

The period before the second world war in the Institute activities was characterized by development of researches on the geography and genesis of soils, effective utilization of the country's land resources, methods for study of soils, amelioration and erosion processes.

Huge complex expedition works have been started. Soil science investigations were being carried out in Zavolzhie and Kulunda in connection with irrigation projects; in Kazakhstan and Central Asia due to amelioration construction and expansion of cotton production. Soil cover was being examined in areas of industrial new buildings and future hydroconstruction, namely: Kuznetz coalfield in Siberia, valley of the river Volkhov for Volkhovstroi, the basin of the upper part of the river Volga due to construction of Volga dam, soils of Lake Sevan basin in connection with utilization of the lake water for irrigation and energy purposes. Investigations of soils in Far East and Kamchatka were being carried out. Works on the classification of soils were continued, and as a result of those researches new classification schemes by B.B.Polynov (1933), I.P.Gerasimov, A.A.Zavalishin, E.N.Ivanova (1935) have been published.

Under guidance of L.I.Prasolov the general soil maps of the country, the World soil map and maps of several foreign countries (according to literature materials) have been developed, the registration of land resources has been carried out for the first time. Academician L.I.Prasolov was the first soil scientist who was honored the title of the State Prize laureate in 1941 for the work on soil mapping and registration of the USSR's land resources.

Works of K.D.Glinka, L.I.Prasolov, S.S.Neustruev have allowed I.P.Gerasimov to identify soil- climate faescia of the USSR and neighboring countries. Later on he has developed the idea on soil- bioclimatic zones of the World and soil geography in every zone.

Together with soil-geographic and mapping investigations there was studied the genesis of the following soils, namely: podzolic soils (A.A.Rode), forest-steppe soils (I.V.Tyurin, A.A.Zavalishin), solonetzs and solonchaks (E.N.Ivanova, V.A.Kovda), kashtanozems (I.N.Antipov-Karataev), irrigated grey soils (V.A.Kovda, A.N.Rozanov), etc. The monographs "Podzol forming process", "Solonetzs and solonchaks", and "Soils of the USSR" became a noticeable contributions to genetic pedology.

The experimental pedology was being under intensive development. Studying soil colloids after K.K.Hedroitz's brilliant works was continued successfully under guidance of I.N.Antipov-Karataev: the nature of soil acidity (V.A.Chernov), exchange capacity of soils (N.I.Gorbunov), soil solutions (P.A.Kryukov, N.A.Komarova) were researched.

There were investigated the soil structure, agrophysical properties and regimes of soils for ameliorational and agrotechnological purposes (A.F.Lebedev, N.A.Kachinsky, N.I.Savvinov, S.I.Dolgov), the organic substance, its role in soil formation and fertility, there were developed methods for determination of soil humus composition (I.V.Tyurin, M.M.Konovalova).

The hydrological direction in pedology was being developed (A.A.Rode), contemporary processes of soil formation (soil regimes, firstly, water regime) in podzolic and black soils (E.A.Afanasieva) were being researched.

Under leadership of D.N.Pryanishnikov soil fertility and soil conditions of plant nutrition (A.T.Kirsanov) were being studied.

During the Great Patriotic war a part of the Institute has been evacuated to Tashkent. Due to relocation of agriculture to eastern areas of the country, the Institute was carrying out large works for identification of land resources in Ural and Kazakhstan for control of irrigated soils against salinization and their improvement, studying water regimes of boharic grey soils. A group of experts, who stayed in Moscow, worked in the sphere of the defense (study of traficability, creation of temporary aerodromes, construction of waterproof screens for water-storage reservoirs, etc.). In 1943 the Institute has returned to Moscow.

The aims of economy restoration and development determined the main content of the Institute's investigations after the war. In connection with building of huge hydroelectric stations (on the rivers Volga, Don, Dnepr, Amu-Daria, etc.) the Institute has actively participated in development of irrigation systems. The lands suitable for tea production have been identified in Krasnodar region, Azerbaijan and Zakarpatie (Yu.A.Liverovsky). Complex researches of soils in Kaliningrad region as well as in areas of field-protective forestation (I.N.Antipov-Karataev, A.F.Bolshakov, A.A.Erokhina, E.N.Ivanova, L.A.Letkov, M.N.Polskikh, A.A.Rode, V.M.Fridland) have been carried out. The great attention was paid to evaluation of virgin lands in eastern areas of the country and their identification for agricultural use.

The Institute has taken active part in special investigations for substantiation of amelioration projects in Barabinsk, Kura-Araksinsk and Zeisko-Bureinsk lowlands, in Central Asia, Prikaspian lowland. These researches, having promoted solution of important practical problems, were a serious contribution to the genetic and amelioration pedology.

During the reclamation of saline soils in Central Asia the drainage providing the stable soil desalinization was of great importance. This idea has been substantiated in the monograph by V.A.Kovda entitled "Origin and regime of saline soils" that has been awarded with the State prize. Principles of amelioration regionalization, calculation of critical salt regime for irrigated soils have been developed, a model for calculation of washing standards (V.A.Kovda, V.V.Egorov, A.N.Rozanov, I.S.Rabochev, N.G.Minashina, A.T.Morozov et al.) has been suggested. The salt regime of soils was being studied for various irrigation systems, the problems of improvement of irrigated soils fertility, effective utilization of water-land resources under conditions of fresh water limitation, protection of river waters against pollution were being solved, the methods for mapping of irrigated and non-irrigated soils salinization were being developed (F.I.Kozlovsky, E.A.Kornblyum, B.A.Zimovetz, E.I.Pankova). At the present time there are being developed the models of salinization due to anthropogenic factors, extra moisturizing, solonetzation (N.B.Khitrov, I.N.Lyubimova).

For the aims of studying soils, further agricultural development and land utilization improvement the soil researches have been carried out, monographs have been published, soils maps have been made for the following areas, namely: the grey soil zone of Central Asia (A.N.Rozanov), Altai (B.F.Petrov), the USSR desert zone (E.V.Lobova), the Orenburg region (A.A.Erokhina), Zakarpatie (E.N.Rudneva), the south part of West Siberia (K.A.Ufimtseva), Tuva (V.A.Nosin), Zabaikalie (N.A.Nogina), Kamchatka (I.A.Sokolov), Central and North-East Siberia (I.A.Sokolov, E.M.Naumov). I.A.Sokolov has been awarded the V.V.Dokuchaev Gold medal for series of works on the genesis and geography of these far-located regions.

Four volumes of the monograph entitled "Podzolic soils of the European part of the USSR" and four books "The USSR Chernozems" have been published. A large team of highly qualified experts under guidance of N.A.Nogina and I.I.Lebedeva took part in their writing.

The Soil Science Institute jointly with soil scientists from other institutions worked preparing a multi-sheet soil map of the country (the work has been carried out under leadership of L.I.Prasolov, I.P.Gerasimov, E.I.Ivanova, V.M.Fridland, L.L.Shishov). The map has served as a base for one of the first all-country registration of soil resources, regionalization of the soil cover, fulfillment of ameliorative procedures.

In 1956 the USSR general Soil map has been composed (N.N.Rozov, E.V.Lobova) and published. It has been awarded with the Gold medal at the World exhibition in Brussels in 1958.

The Institute was one of the first soil science institutions that began to use aerial methods for pedology. Corresponding recommendations and manuals on making soil maps of various scales by using aerial and, later, space methods (V.L.Andronnikov, M.S.Simakova) have been published.

The problem of soil classification takes an important part of the Institute's work. In 1967 the ecological and genetic classification of soils has been published in five issues (editors E.N.Ivanova, N.N.Rozov), that has been approved by the USSR Ministry of Agriculture as an official manual for fulfilling large-scale soil observations of farms. After completion it has been published in 1977 as "Classification and diagnostics of soils in the USSR".

In 1997 a new completed and supplemented variant of the classification including anthropogeneously transformed soils (compiled by L.L.Shishov, V.D.Tonkonogov, I.I.Lebedeva) has been published. It has been translated into English and published in 2001 under edition of Professor R.Arnold.

Huge materials, collected in the sphere of the country's soils geography and their properties, allowed making soil and geographic regionalization of all territory in the country and publishing several monographs jointly with the USSR Academy of Sciences Council for Determination of Production Forces, later the State Institute for Land Resources (N.N.Rozov, I.I.Karmanov, D.S.Bulgakov et al.). I.I.Karmanov has been awarded with the V.R.Williams's prize for the monograph entitled "Fertility of the USSR soils".

The great attention was permanently paid to the identification of nature of erosion processes and to the countermeasures against them as well as to the development of the erosion-affected soil classification. Measures of soil protection against water and wind erosion have been developed for different natural zones of the country. The USSR Soil erosion map of the scale 1:2500000 has been composed, the map of the European part has been published (under general edition of A.N.Kashtanov and L.L.Shishov), the map of the Asian part is being prepared for publication.

Under guidance of D.N.Pryanishnikov and A.V.Sokolov the physiological and agrochemical aspects of plant nutrition and the role of separate elements and soil properties in yield formation were studied. Original data on processes of plant nutrition under conditions of soil and soil cover heterogeneity have been obtained (A.V.Sokolov, D.V.Fedorovsky, Z.A.Prokhorova, A.S.Frid).

A significant contribution has been made into development of the theories of plant nitrogen nutrition and increasing the application coefficient of nitrogen fertilizers, physics and chemistry of phosphorus, optimization of plant potash nutrition (E.A.Andreeva, M.A.Bobritskaya, I.E.Koroleva, B.N.Makarov, E.T.Muzychkin, D.L.Askinazi, K.E.Ginzburg, O.P.Medvedeva et al.). Diagnostic methods of crop mineral nutrition (V.V.Tserling, M.A.Gorshkova) as well as soil fertility, based on the balance of plant nutrition elements (I.I.Elnikov) have been developed and implemented.

The Institute has made a lot in the area of agrochemical characteristics of soils of different regions, as well as rivers flood plains (L.I.Korableva, L.D.Slutskaya, T.N.Avdeeva).

Experimental departments and laboratories of the Institute are researching chemical, mineralogical, granulometric compositions, physical and chemical properties of soils, nature of the organic substance, circulation and balance of substances in arable farming, soil microbiological characteristics. The stationary study of soil regimes gets the broad development.

Researches of the soil organic substance, started in 1930 are connected with I.V.Tyurin. Up to the present time the content and nature of humus substances in different types of soils has been studied; the character of organic substance accumulation and decomposition in virgin and cultivated soils of different natural zones has been identified; the mechanism of humus substances relationship with the mineral part has been found; the research methods for nature of humus substances and their composition in various soils have been developed (I.V.Tyurin, M.M.Konovalova, N.N.Sushkina, V.V.Ponomareva, N.P.Belchikova et al.). For these works in the area of the organic substance study M.M.Kononova has been awarded with the USSR State prize.

Theoretical and methodological problems of the humus balance and transformation under the agricultural utilization and intensive cultivation of soils have been developed. There have been given recommendations for identification of the humus content and optimal quality level for main types of agrosoils in order to obtain high and stable yields of crops (K.V.Diakonova, N.A.Titova, B.M.Kogut et al.).

The ion-exchange reactions and the nature of soil acidity, the energy of aluminum and hydrogen ions sorption in soils have been studied. For investigations of soil acidity V.A.Chernov has been awarded with the State prize. There have been studied the processes of ion dissociation in soils and clays (N.A.Komarova, N.V.Knyazeva), the behavior of long living radionuclides in different soils (Yu.A.Polyakov, L.N.Kalishina, L.F.Nazarova, V.G.Grakovsky) as well as the ion exchange in various soils (Yu.A.Polyakov, L.V.Ryzhova), the sorption of phosphate-ions in sod-podzolic soils, the content and properties of organic and mineral interaction products in sod-podzolic and black soils (M.Sh.Shaimykhamedov, L.S.Travnikova). The theory of soil iron oxidogenesis has been developed and its performance in soils of humid landscapes has been characterized (Yu.N.Vodyanitsky).

Chemical methods for identification of microelements in soils have been developed, their total content and content of their mobile forms in main types of soils, predictability of exchange and their fixation by the soil have been identified (V.A.Chernov, I.G.Vazhenin, V.A.Bolshakov, K.V.Verigina, E.G.Zhuravleva, L.P.Orlova). The new methods for identification of micro- and macroelements in soils have been developed, improved and implemented: spectral, polargraphic, X-ray-fluorescent methods and other (D.N.Ivanov, V.A.Bolshakov, L.A.Lerner, Z.N.Kakhnovich, S.E.Sorokin). Predictability of soil pollution with heavy metals are being studied (V.A.Bolshakov, T.I.Borisochkina).

Significant results have been obtained in the study of the mineralogical composition of the thin dispersion part of the soil. Peculiarities of the silt mineralogical composition for main types of soils have been found, the determining role of soil-forming minerals in the soil formation has been identified (N.I.Gorbunov, B.P.Gradusov). The mineralogical composition, the genesis of silt minerals for main fractions of black, sod-podzolic, podzolic soils and their agroanalogues has been characterized. The transformations of mineralogical composition under the agrogene influences have been identified (N.P.Chizhikova).

The Soil Science Institute is a pioneer in micromorphological researches of soils (B.B.Polynov, I.I.Feofarova, E.I.Parfenova, E.A.Yarilova). Several groundworks have been acclaimed as inventions (T.V.Tursina). A method of a quantitative microphotometric analysis for pore space of soils has been suggested (E.B.Skvortsova), micromorphological peculiarities of saline soils are being studied (M.P.Lebedeva).

Researches of many years in the area of the soil heat regime have been carried out, a map of the USSR soil temperature has been composed, quantitative thermal characteristics of soils in zone- provincial aspect have been obtained, a classification of soil temperature regime, included in several manuals for pedology has been developed (V.N.Dimo, P.I.Tikhonravova). Criteria for evaluation of sod- podzolic soils cultivation according to the organic substance content, the humus horizon thickness and the structure of tillage and undertillage layers have been clarified (I.V.Kuznetsova). The compacting influence of agricultural machinery on soil is being studied and the measures for its decompaction are being developed (A.G.Bondarev, V.F.Utkaeva).

The methodical works for studying physical properties of soils have been reflected in the manual entitled "Agrophysical research methods". A great result of the Institute's coordinating work in the area of studying physical and mechanical properties of soils is a 5-volume monograph entitled "Agrophysical characteristics of the USSR soils".

During many years the complex researches of soil processes have been carried out, first of all, the water regime and the moisture balance in the virgin and cultivated typical chernozems of the Kursk forest-steppe (A.F.Bolshakov, E.A.Afanasieva, T.P.Kokovina), in the meadow-forest soils of Zabaikalie, in the ordinary and meadow chernozems of Kamennaya steppe (T.Ya.Kissis), in the soils of central taiga sub-zone in West Siberia (N.M.Fedorova), in the soils of dry steppe in Northern Prikaspy (A.A.Rode, G.P.Maximyuk, G.S.Bazykina et al.).

Recommendations for optimizing the water and temperature regimes of ameliorated peat soils have been developed (I.N.Skrynnikova), the microelementary composition of peat soils has been studied, the peat deposits of different lythologo-geomorphological regions have been characterized (V.N.Kreshtapova).

The materials of long-term stationary researches of soil regimes became the base for the development of theoretical problems of hydrology and for understanding the types of soil water regime, the hydrological horizons and the hydrological profile of the soil. The materials on water regime of soil, properties of the soil moisture have been generalized by A.A.Rode in the monograph entitled "Soil moisture" (1952) awarded with the V.V.Dokuchaev Gold medal, and the monograph entitled "Backgrounds of theory on soil moisture", which A.A.Rode had been awarded with the USSR State prize for. The book entitled "Principles of organization and methods for stationary researches of soils" has been published. Studying the water regime and the water balance of soils, modeling the moisture transportation within the system soil - plant - atmosphere, regulating the moisture supply of plant is going on (N.A.Muromtsev et al.).

In 1967 in accordance with the initiative of V.A.Rojkov and under his leadership the broad implementation of investigation of mathematical methods in the soil science and the Institute computerization activity has been started. There have been created automated information and search systems that are the modern means of soil data organization and analysis. Geoinformation systems (GIS) are being developed in order to solve different problems including mapping.

The computation facilities of the Institute include the required hardware and licensed software for the following works: composing maps of various destination and scale by using space methods and computer technologies, carrying out complex soil and ecological researches aimed to develop more efficient arable systems, developing GIS applications and GIS software, creating GIS-based expert systems and models (evaluation of land suitability for agricultural purposes, different crops, etc.).

The Institute carried and is carrying out a lot of work on coordination of soil and agrochemical researches in the country, it is realizing international scientific relations, it coordinated scientific investigations according to the plan of scientific and technological cooperation with the countries - CMEA (Comecon) members in the area of agriculture. The Institute carried out researches on bilateral base with the USA, France, German Democratic Republic, Mongolia, Libya, etc., it provided scientific assistance to soil scientists of Cuba, Laos, Syria, etc.

The Institute participated in all International congresses (except the IV-th one) of soil scientists. In 1974 the Institute was the organizer of X International congress of soil scientists and held post-congress excursions round the country territory.

The Institute is taking active part in scientific and organizational work of Soil Scientists Society attached to Russian Academy of Sciences.

In 1977 for the success achieved and due to the 50-year Jubilee the Soil Science Institute was awarded with the order of Labor Red Banner.

During the years of its existence the Soil Science Institute, being a leading scientific institution, prepared a large number of highly qualified experts - doctors of sciences and Ph.D. (190 doctors of sciences, 350 Ph.D. for 15 republics of the USSR: 123 doctors of sciences and 310 Ph.D. for RSFSR, 15 doctors of sciences and 9 Ph.D. for Azerbaijan, 12 doctors of sciences and 4 Ph.D. for Ukraine, 14 doctors of sciences and 1 Ph.D. for Uzbekistan, etc. Scientists of 28 nationalities have defended their theses in the Institute.

Two RAAS academicians, one RAAS corresponding member, five academicians and one corresponding member of specialized academies, 34 doctors of sciences, 57 Ph.D. are working in the Institute. The Institute's structure includes 18 divisions (nine departments, nine laboratories), the central soil science museum in St.-Petersburg, and six stations.

At the present time there are 23 postgraduate students in the Institute. There is a specialized Scientific Council authorized to consider Ph.D. and Doctor of Science theses for the following specializations: 03.00.27 - soil science; 06.01.02 - amelioration, recultivation and protection of soils; 06.01.03 - agropedology, agrophysics.

Nine scientists of the Institute have been awarded with the V.V.Dokuchaev Gold medal; twelve scientists have been awarded with the V.V.Dokuchaev prize.

In the end of the XX-th century the scientists of the Institute have carried out researches in accordance with international projects, contracts with ministries and agencies of our country (the Ministry of Agriculture, the State Land Committee, the Ministry for Science and Technology, the Ecology Committee, etc.). Every year the Institute's scientists were obtaining grants from the RFFI, the GTC Integration, the International Institute of Applied System Analysis (IIASA, Austria), the scientific center for soil researches (ISRIC, the Netherlands), the European Commission and scientific unions.

Presently the V.V.Dokuchaev Soil Science Institute is in the stage of its maturity and it is ready to solve difficult problems of pedology, ecology, geography, etc. that are important for Russia.

The Institute's experimental base includes several experimental stations, located in different soil and climatic zones of the country, namely: