Update: 08.12.2017

It can take more than 1000 years to form a centimeter of topsoil.

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The International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) is the global union of soil scientists. The objectives of the IUSS are to promote all branches of soil science, and to support all soil scientists across the world in the pursuit of their activities. This website provides information for IUSS members and those interested in soil science.

Karl Stahr (Germany)

Karl Stahr (Germany)

Address: Hohenheim University, Institute of Soil Science and Land Evaluation, 70593 Stuttgart, Germany

E-mail: kstahr@uni-hohenheim.de

Position: Prof. of Soil Science and Petrography

Age: 60 Years

1. When did you decide to study soil science?

After a basic course in Geology in 1966, I decided to specialize in Soil Science. I had interest in the development of the whole earth crust, like the formation of mountain ranges. However, I felt that I would be able to learn and explain more about the skin of the earth than about the deeper parts of the lithosphere.

2. Who has been your most influential teacher?

My first teacher was Eberhard Ostendorff, a student of Stremme. He was contributing to the first soil map of Europe. I learned to love soils from him. My second teacher was Ernst Schlichting, here I learned strict scientific methods how to come from observation to conclusion and how to form hypothesis. My third teacher was Heinz W. Zottl. He taught me the basics of plant nutrition and especially a realistic way to do science in practice and to be successful in the university business. Beside these teachers Hans-Peter Blume had a strong influence because he followed my way helpful, critical and always positive from the beginning of my PhD until today.

3. What do you find most exciting about soil science?

Soils are unknown objects. However, if you have some tools in your hand, you can observe a lot and soils start to tell you stories about their development and future. In the last years I especially have been interested in soil zooming, coming from the landscape going into specific key soils, observing the beauty of horizons and their sections and then analyzing the architecture of aggregates and the form and structure of soil minerals, even they will tell you at the end something about the landscape again.

4. How would you stimulate teenagers and young graduates to study soil science? 

I like it and I would like to be more successful in the future. I like telling stories about soils to young people by using statements and explaining them which may draw their attention. Soils are the skin of the earth. Soils are fantastic, interesting natural laboratories. Soils are beautiful and they do beautiful things. Soils have no borders, but transitions. Soils are the biggest gene resource of the world.

5. How do you see the future of soil science?

Soil science is a young discipline and is very powerful. It has especially to improve it theory. However, the problem of soil science in a world, where economy rules almost everything is a problem, that it has not found a close connection to big business. On a long term, soil science needs enthusiastic researchers to improve the basic knowledge. On the short term it needs more advertising to come into the view of decision makers. We already have the king of Thailand among our sponsors. Let's move on.