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 Konstantin Gedroits


Born:   25 March 1872
Deceased:   5 October 1932

eminent chemist

      

Konstantin Gedroits, eminent soil chemist, was born to the family of an army medical officer. His father was a noble man and belonged to an ancient princely family. Konstantin received education in Kiev Cadet Corps and moved to St. Petersburg after graduation.

In 1898 Konstantin Gedroits graduated from St. Petersburg Forest Institute and continued his education at natural science department of physics and mathematics faculty of St. Petersburg University, having passed all examinations as extern. Following 15 years were dedicated to employment in agricultural chemical laboratory of the Ministry of Agriculture. Later Konstantin Gedroits founded agrochemical department of Nosov experimental agriculture station (Ukraine), which he headed for 12 years, between 1918 and 1930.

Between 1918 and 1928 Konstantin Gedroits also worked as a research fellow in soil chemistry laboratory of Soil Science Institute of Soviet Academy of Sciences, located in Leningrad till 1943, and finally became its director in 1928. At the same time the scientist held professorship of St. Petersburg Forest Institute and at the same time was the head of its soil science department.

In January 1927 Konstantin Gedroits got the title of corresponding member of Soviet Academy of Sciences, department of physical and mathematical sciences, specialization of mineralogy. The same year brought the scientist a position of president of International Association of Pedologists (soil scientists) and Lenin Award. Two years later the chemist became a full member of Soviet Academy of Sciences. Eminent scientist held titles of full members of several more academies.

Since 1930 the scientist headed agronomy laboratory near Moscow. Later Konstantin Gedroits was arrested, which destroyed his health, and in 1932 the scientist died.

Most important scientific achievements of Konstantin Gedroits were made in the field of colloid chemistry of soils. The scientist created the theory of soil colloids and their role in formation of soils and their fertility. Gedroits discovered so-called “soil absorption complex”, a system of highly dispersed mineral, organo-mineral and organic particles, which show ion-exchange properties. Soil is notable for mostly negative surface charge, and that is why it is likely to absorb cations rather than anions. Exchange cations, located on the surface of soil particles, determine such soil properties as structure, pH and salt composition of soil solution, ability to sustain plant growth, as well as affect dynamics of many processes, taking place in soil.

Konstantin Gedroits developed new soil classification according their content of exchange cations. He suggested two large groups: base-rich and base-poor soils, as well as four main soil types: lateritic, podzol, chernozem and solonetz (alkaline) soils. The scientists explained the nature of soil alkalinity, when he discovered that solonetz properties depended in sodium ion, included into soil absorption complex. The researcher also suggested an evolution scheme for alkaline soils, which included stages of solonchak, solonetz and soloth. All mentioned discoveries allowed Gedroits to formulate a famous technique of soil chemical melioration – gypsum treatment and lime application. The scientists is also famous as an author of many techniques of soil chemical analysis.

 


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