Eilhard Alfred Mitscherlich (1874 -1956)

Eilhard Alfred Mitscherlich (1874–1956) was one of the most innovative and internationally best-known German crop and soil scientists. He revolutionized the research on soil fertility, fertilization and the yield of agricultural crops and formulated the “effect law of growth factors”. Mitscherlich elaborated rules for employing field trials and soil analyses, and introduced fertilizer advice into agricultural practice. The plant containers which he developed (Mitscherlich vessels) are still used around the world today. The German-Russian dialogue in science and practice was a constant concern to him. From 1950 to 1956, Mitscherlich was the president of the institute for increasing plant yields at the German Academy of Sciences, Berlin (Paulinenaue).

Mitscherlich worked in the field of fertilizer optimization and defined the “law of diminishing returns” in that context. Even today, more than 70 years after his death, the optimization of fertilization is the central ecological problem of practical agriculture. Since the beginning of the 1990s, i.e. for almost 30 years, the average annual nitrogen surplus in German agriculture has been almost unchanged at about 100 kg N / ha.

Fachexkursion der internationalen Forschergruppe zu den Feldtagen der DLG auf Gut Mariaburghausen in Haßfurt. Rechts im Bild Frank Eulenstein, der Forschungsprojektleiter und Organisator des Arbeitstreffens | Quelle: © ZALF / Frank Eulenstein & Uwe Schindler.

While 200 kg N / ha are often exceeded in intensive agricultural areas in north-western Germany, purely market-oriented areas in eastern Germany often show deficient nutrient balances which do not exhaust the yield potential. The same applies to the European scale for the Baltic States and the Russian Federation.

Eilhard Alfred Mitscherlich’s message is more relevant today than ever!

Important dates from the life of E. A. Mitscherlich

Life and work of Eilhard Alfred Mitscherlich

Epilogue to: Professor Max Eilhard Alfred Mitscherlich E. A. – Mitscherlich is everywhere – mistake or food for thought?