V.V. Dokuchaev Soil Science Institute

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Stages in the organization of the Institute and basic trends in its researches

1888 – Soil Commission was founded on V.V. Dokuchaev’s initiative as attached to the Liberal Economic Association.

1913 - The above Commission was reorganized into V.V. Dokuchaev Soil Committee under the guidance of K.D. Glinka (chairman), L.I. Prasolov and S.S. Neustruev.

1918 - V.V. Dokuchaev Soil Committee was transformed into a Soil Department in the Commission for Studying Natural Productive Forces (CNPF) of the USSR Academy of Sciences

2 April 1927 – V.V. Dokuchaev Soil Science Institute was founded as an independent research institution in accordance with the resolution of the general meeting of the USSR Academy of Sciences. Since that time the soil science has being recognized as a fundamental academic science.

The Institute included the Department of soil cartography and geography headed by L.I. Prasolov and several zonal groups guided by B.B. Polynov, S.S. Neustruev, N.I. Prokhorov, A.M. Pankov, M.I. Rozhanets, the Soil Museum was also attached to this Institute.

An experimental-laboratory base of the Institute embraced three laboratories including the laboratory of soil chemistry (K.K. Gedroits), the laboratory of soil mineralogy (P.A. Zamyatchensky) and the laboratory of mass analyses (N.I. Sokolov).

The pre-war period

Large-scale complex expeditions have been organized. The Institute carried out the soil survey in Bashkiria, Orenburg and the other regions. These soil studies were urgently required for implementing the projects of irrigation, amelioration and cotton-growing in arid regions of the USSR (Trans-Volga, Kulunda region, Kazakhstan and Middle Asia). The soil cover was comprehensively studied in regions of industrial construction projects and the building of future hydrological power stations (Kuznetsk basin in Siberia, Volkhov river valley, the upper Volga river), etc.

Under the guidance of K.D. Glinka and L. I. Prasolov the Soil Map of European part of the Soviet Union has been published. The general soil map of Asian part of this country was compiled; according to literature data the soil maps and soil-geographical essays of India, Japan, Africa have been prepared.

In the 1930s a number of special laboratories was organized including the laboratories of soil fertility, soil mineralogy, soil biochemistry, physico-chemistry, saline soils, analytical laboratory, soil microbiology, soil physics and erosion as well as X-ray diffraction (I.D.Sedletsky) and spectral (D.N. Ivanov) laboratories.

1934 Leaving of the Soil Science Institute for Moscow from Leningrad.

1935-1936 Under the guidance of L.I. Prasolov the World Soil map has been created and published.

Special research in soil genesis has being conducted: podzolic soils (A.A.Rode), the soils of the forest-steppe zone (I.V. Tyurin, A.A. Zavalishin), solonetz soils and solonchaks (E.N. Ivanova, V.A. Kovda), chestnut soils (I.N. Antipov-Karataev).

Some new schemes of soil classification have been proposed during these ten years (the scheme of B.B. Polynov and the scheme of I.P. Gerasimov, A.A. Zavalishin and E.N. Ivanova); experimental soil science has been intensively developing:  under study were soil colloids (I.N. Antipov-Karataev), the soil organic matter (I.V. Tyurin, M.M. Kononova). The soil productivity was at the centre of special attention.

1941-1945 During the Great Patriotic war the Institute carried out the research in the development of land resources in Ural and Kazakhstan, in salinization control of irrigated soils and their improvement, in study of the water regime in the zone of rainfed sierozems. A group of researchers in Moscow was engaged in defensive subjects (the study of cross-country ability, building of provisional airfields, water permeability of screens for constructing the water reservoirs, etc.).  

In the post-war period

The major research of the Institute was directed towards restoring and developing the national economy of the country. In view of building the great hydrological power stations in the Volga, Don, Dnieper, Amudarya and other rivers the Institute took active part in constructing the irrigation systems. Under study was the salt regime of soils, the problems were solved as related to increasing the fertility of irrigated soils, rational use of water and land resources in arid regions where the fresh water is in short supply, protection of river waters from pollution. The mapping methods of salinization in irrigated and non-irrigated soils have being elaborated. Special research has been conducted in realizing the projects of amelioration in Baraba, Kura-Araks and Zeya-Bureinsk lowlands, in Middle Asia, Pre-Caspian lowland.

1947 The Institute started to compile the State Soil map at a scale of 1: 1 000 000, thus determining the content of the soil mapping work for the nearest future.

1956  The generalized soil map of the USSR has been compiled and published by N.N. Rozov and E.V. Lobova; it received a Gold Medal in the World exhibition in Brussel in 1958.

The 1960s Large soil-meliorative investigations continued in Middle Asia and Trans-Volga region; the maps of soil salinity in European part of the USSR and the whole country have been compiled. The work concerning the soil classification continued to be done.

Since 1961 the Institute was attached to the system of the Ministry of Agriculture within the former All-Union academy of agricultural sciences named after V.I. Lenin (VASKHNIL), it is Russian academy of agricultural sciences now.

Numerous publications appeared in this time as devoted to the study of the primary soil formation processes, biological origin of the concentration of several elements (B.B. Polynov et. all.), geographical regularities in the humus formation (I.V Tyurin and M.M. Kononova) saline soils and their improvement (V.A.Kovda and V.V. Egorov); sierozems and irrigated soils (A.N. Rozanov), amelioration of solonetz soils and physico-chemical investigations of soils (I.N. Antipov-Karataev et.all.). A number of fundamental publications were awarded by the State prize and the prizes engraved with V.V. Dokuchaev, D.N. Pryanishnikov, V. R. Williams.

1970s The problem of elaborating the principles for agricultural and soil regionalization, cadastre systems of the soil resources and their qualitative estimation has become very acute. The Institute offered a special soil-agricultural zonation of the country as based upon the data about genetic peculiarities and productive possibilities of different soils in various landscapes. A perspective qualitative cadastre of the soil resources has been created in the USSR.

The most important trend in the scientific activity of the Institute was also genetic and cartographic investigations and creation of the soil classification in Russia. The first official soil classification of the country was proposed by the Institute as based upon ecological and genetic principles.

1971-1973 The principles for soil classification and diagnostics have been prepared.

1974 The Xth World Congress of Soil Science was organized by the Institute in Moscow; port-congress scientific tours were at the territory of the country.

1976 The monograph “Agrophysical characteristics of soils in the USSR” including 16 volumes has been published.

1977 The Jubilee session of All-Union Academy of agricultural sciences devoted to the 50th anniversary of the V.V. Dokuchaev Soil Science Institute.

In view of this Jubilee the Institute was awarded with the Order of the Red Banner of Labor for successes achieved.


The Soil Science Institute is a forefather of soil micromorphological investigations (B.B. Polynov, I.I. Feofarova, E.I. Parfenova, E.A. Yarilova).

The Institute was a co-ordinator of joint researches according to the plan of scientific-technical collaboration in the sphere of agriculture between CMEA countries; it conducted scientific work on the bilateral base with partners from the USA, France, Germany, Mongolia, Libya and other countries, rendered scientific assistance to pedologists of Cuba, Laos, Syria, etc.

At the end of the XX century the Institute conducted the research participating in the implementation of international projects and contracts within the framework of Ministries and Departments of the Russian Federation.

In 1997 a new enlarged and improved version of soil classification was prepared. It included human-modified soils (L.L. Shishov, V.D. Tonkonogov, I.I. Lebedeva). This classification has been translated into English and published in 2001 being edited by Prof. W. Arnold.

Many specialists of the V.V. Dokuchaev Soil Science Institute were honored with the title of State prize winners, Gold medal and V.V. Dokuchaev Prize in different State and International exhibitions and conferences.

2002 One researcher was awarded with title of Honored Science Worker of the Russian Federation.

2003 4 researchers were decorated with the Order “For Outstanding Services to the Country”, one researcher received the title of Honored Science Worker in the Russian Federation..

2005 4 researchers were recognized as Government prize winners; one research worker obtained the medal for achievements in agriculture.