Hans-Peter Blume (Germany)
Age: 75 years
Position: emeritierter (retired) Professor of Soil Science
Address: Christian-Albrechts-University, Institute
of Plant Nutrition & Soil Science, D 24098 Kiel
1. When did you decide to study soil science?
After preparing my diploma work during my study of Agricultural Sciences at Kiel University about Clay migration as profile forming process in summer 1957 my teacher in Soil Science, later Professor Ernst Schlichting (1923-1988) ask me to continue my studies of clay migration as his PhD student, what I have done between 1958 and 1961.
2. Who has been your most influential teacher?
My first and most influential teacher was Ernst Schlichting. I was his first PhD student in Soil Science. During the summer 1960 I could accompany him to study Tundra and Subarctic Soils in Northern Sweden for two months, which was an intensive learning by doing together with him. During the sixties I was his assistant in Hohenheim, but intensive scientific discussions followed later on until his death.
3. What do you find most exciting about Soil Science?
Most exciting for me is the study of soil profiles in the field, especially those with unknown history. During the seventies I could study fascinating soils from bricks and mortar as well as of and beside sanitary land fills in Berlin. The latter ones showed me e.g. that well drained soils with strong reduced conditions do exist (as Reductic Technosols). Later on I had the possibility to study very different soil units of hot and cold deserts, and found many similarities between them , e.g. polygons of sand filled cracks of clay soils as well as sandy ones.
4. How would you stimulate teenagers and young graduates to study Soil Science?
I am retired now, but I show young school teachers some of our in Germany existing pathways of soil profiles so that they will show these fascinating bodies of nature to their students. I show teenagers my stamp collection of Soil Science 'Land Use' Soil Protection in addition.
5. How do you see the future of Soil Science?
Soil Science is a young but powerful discipline. Soil mapping of rural areas was done in many countries. But similar studies in Urban and Industrial Agglomerations are just at the beginning. Our knowledge about many fundamental processes of soil formation like podzolization, carbonatisation, silification or redoximophism are incomplete until now, have to be done with more intensity. It seems to me that it is much more easy, to get money for analyzing soil pollution in many countries, than to solve fundamental questions of a better understanding of soil formation.