IN MEMORIAM - GYÖRGY VÁRALLYAY (1935-2018)
György Várallyay passed away in Budapest on December 2, 2018. He was born in Debrecen on July 17, 1935. He graduated from the Agricultural University of Gödöllő as agricultural engineer in 1957. In 1960 he became Research Associate, first at the Soils Department of the National Agricultural Quality Inspection Institute at Mosonmagyaróvár, then he was transferred to the Research and Utilization Department of Salt-affected Soils of the Research Institute for Soil Science and Agrochemistry (RISSAC) in Budapest. He became head of the Soil Science Department in 1976 and 5 years later director of the Institute. He held this position till 1997, at which time he received a research professorship
He started teaching in 1977 as invited lecturer at the Ain-Samsz University in Cairo. In 1983, he was admitted as a Guest Professor at the Agricultural University of Gödöllő (GATE). He also taught at the Agricultural University of Debrecen and at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest. In 1988 he received a university professorship at GATE, and in 1992 he became head of GATE’s Soil Science Department at the RISSAC. He occupied the head of the department position until his retirement in 2005.
In 1968 he defended his candidate dissertation (CSc) in agricultural sciences, then academic doctoral thesis (DSc) in 1988. He became a member of the Soil Science, Agrochemistry and Water Management Scientific Committee, which he chaired between 1993 and 1997. He also participated in the work of three other environmental science committees of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (HAS). Meanwhile, in 1993, he was elected a corresponding member, and then in 1998 a member of the HAS. In 1998 Professor Várallyay was also selected as external member of the Slovak Agricultural Academy. He was the chairman of the Hungarian Soil Science Society between 1990 and 1999, and then the honorary president. He was member of the International Soil Science Society (ISSS) and the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS), for which he served as Deputy Chairman in 1978-1982, and then as Chairman of Committee VI. of Soil Technology (CSS), member of the Committee of International Programs (CIP), and the Awards and Honors Committee. In 2008 he was awarded the IUSS Honorary Member title - as the fourth Hungarian in the nearly 100 years of history of the Society ! He was a member of the Scientific Council of the European Soil Science Bureau (ESB) as well. Furthermore, he was also a member of numerous international scientific organizations and programs (UNESCO, ICSU, MAB, IGBP, NHP / OHP, ICID, and ISTRO). In Hungary he played a public role as member of the National Environmental Council. He was editor-in-chief of the scientific journal of Agrokémia és Talajtan (Agrochemistry and Soil Science) and was included in the Editorial Board of the Hidrológiai Közlöny (Hydrological Gazette), Acta Agronomica Hungarica, and Geoderma.
He was awarded the Middle Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary (1997); Honorary Doctor of Agriculture and Food Science Faculty at the University of West Hungary (2002); Széchenyi Prize (2004).
Dr. György Várallyay’s main research areas were soil mapping, computer aided soil information systems (GIS) and soil databases, and environmental monitoring issues. In addition, he dealt with soil water management problems, their regulations, and the various phenomena of soil degradation, i.e. soil quality reduction. He dealt with the exploration, prediction and prevention of salt accumulation, salinisation, soil acidification, structural depletion, and compaction problems. He developed a successful method for predicting the salinization process.
György Várallyay’s greatest international achievement was the creation of a world map of soil degradation, together with several leading soil researchers. He also achieved similar results in the construction of the salinization map and Europe soil map. He was the creator of several thematic soil maps in Hungary.
He was the author or co-author of over five hundred and fifty scientific publications and twenty-three books. His publications were published in Hungarian and English.
We all miss Dr György Várallyay’s contribution to soil science, his thoughtful clear guidance and comprehensive professional knowledge and enjoyable conservation. We were lucky to work with you, and learned from you. The charm of your personality and the memory of your teaching will be kept forever. May your soul to rest in peace!
By Kálmán Rajkai