Vasily Vasil'evich Dokuchaev is commonly regarded as the father of pedology, the study of soils in its natural setting. He developed soil science in Russia, and was, perhaps the first person to make wide geographical investigations of different soil types. His great contribution to science was, figuratively, to "put soils on the map".
He introduced the idea that geographical variations in soil type could be explained in relation not only to geological factors (parent material), but also to climatic and topographic factors, and the time available for pedogenesis (soil formation) to operate. Using these ideas as a basis, he created the first soil classification. His ideas were quickly taken up by a number of soil scientists, including Hans Jenny. He worked on soil science, and developed a classification scheme describing five factors for soil formation. He arrived at his theory after extensive field studies on Russian soils in 1883. His most famous work is Russian Chernozem (1883). Thanks to Dokuchaev's works a number of Russian soil terms are in the international soil science vocabulary (chernozem, podsol, gley, solonets). A crater on Mars is named in his honor.
The scientific basis of soil science as a natural science was established by the classical works of Dokuchaev. Previously, soil had been considered a product of physicochemical transformations of rocks, a dead substrate from which plants derive nutritious mineral elements. Soil and bedrock were in fact equated.
Dokuchaev considers the soil as a natural body having its own genesis and its own history of development, a body with complex and multiform processes taking place within it. The soil is considered as different from bedrock. The latter becomes soil under the influence of a series of soil-formation factors (climate, vegetation, parent material, relief and age). According to him, soil should be called the "daily" or outward horizons of rocks regardless of the type; they are changed naturally by the common effect of water, air and various kinds of living and dead organisms.
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Ototskii, P.V. 1903. Life of V.V. Dokuchaev. Pochvovedenie, No. 4. (in Russian)
Polynov, B.B., I.A. Krupenikov, and L.A. Krupenikov. 1956. Vasilii Vasil'evich Dokuchaev: Notes on His Life and Work. Izd-vo AN SSSR, Moscow-Leningrad. (in Russian)
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Sobolev, S.S. 1949. Main Landmarks in the Creativity of V.V. Dokuchaev. In Dokuchaev, V.V. Izbr. Trudy. Izd-vo AN SSSR, Moscow. (in Russian)
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Zavaritskii, V.N. 1953. The Scientific-Organizational and Social Activity of V.V. Dokuchaev. In V.V. Dokuchaev, Sochineniya. Izd-vo AN SSSR, Moscow, Vol. VIII. (in Russian)
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Dokuchaev, V.V. 1879. Short Historical Description and Critical Analysis of the More Important Soil Classifications. Trav. Soc. Nat. St. Petersburg 10: 64-67. (In Russian)
Dokuchaev, V.V. 1879. Tchernozeme (terre noire) de la Russie d‘Europe (Chernozem of European Russia). Société Impériale Libre Economique. Imprimeric, Trenke & Fusnot, St. Petersburg (in French).
Dokuchaev, V.V. 1883. Russian Chernozem. In Selected Works of V.V. Dokuchaev, Vol. 1, p. 14–419. Moscow, 1948. Israel Program for Scientific Translations Ltd. (for USDA-NSF), S. Monson, Jerusalem, 1967. (Translated from Russian into English by N. Kaner).
Dokuchaev, V.V. 1893. The Russian Steppes: Study of the Soil in Russia, Its Past and Present. St. Petersburg, Russia: Department of Agriculture Ministry of Crown Domains for the World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago.
Dokuchaev, V.V., N.M. Sibirtsev. 1893. Short Scientific Review of Professor Dokuchaev's and His Pupil's Collection of Soils Exposed in Chicago in the Year 1893. St. Petersburg, Russia: Department of Agriculture Ministry of Crown Domains for the World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago.