James Arthur Prescott

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James Arthur Prescott, CBE, FRS,[1] (7 October 1890 – 6 February 1987) was an agricultural scientist.[2]

Prescott was born in England, educated at the University of Manchester achieving Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours in 1911. The following year he was awarded the first postgraduate scholarship in agricultural science taken at Rothamsted Experimental Station at Harpenden.[3]

From 1916 to 1924, Prescott worked for Sultanic Agricultural Society of Egypt. There he produced 13 scientific papers, including four on the study of nitrogen in the soil, and alkalinity of Egyptian soils.[4][5] In 1919 he was awarded a Master of Science by the University of Manchester based on a thesis of his phosphate studies while at Rothamsted.

From 1924 until his death Prescott worked in Australia, initially as Chair of Agricultural Chemistry at the University of Adelaide. He published in CSIR bulletin 52 the 'The Soils of Australia in Relation to Vegetation and Climate'[6] at a scale of 1:19 x 10*6. This paper was the basis of his submission to the University of Adelaide for which he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Science in 1932.

Prescott produced 'Atmospheric Saturation Deficit in Australia' in 1931 and with H.G. Poole, 'The relationships between Sticky Point, Moisture Equivalent and Mechanical Analysis in some Australian Soils'[7] in 1934. Prescott was Chairman of the CSIR Oenological Research Committee 1938–1955 and a member of the Council of the Australian Wine Research Institute 1955–1970. In 1954 he became a Foundation fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.


The Australian Society of Soil Science established the J.A. Prescott Medal in 1971 to be awarded for outstanding contributions to soil science and climatology.


  1. ^ Stephens, C. G.; Quirk, J. P. (1988). "James Arthur Prescott. 7 October 1890-6 February 1987". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 34: 640. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1988.0021. JSTOR 770064. 
  2. ^ http://www.asap.unimelb.edu.au/bsparcs/aasmemoirs/prescott.htm James Arthur Prescott 1890-1987 at Australian Academy of Science
  3. ^ Prescott, J. A. (1916). "The phenomenon of absorption in its relation to soils: A résumé of the subject". The Journal of Agricultural Science. 8: 111. doi:10.1017/S0021859600002525. 
  4. ^ Prescott, J. A. (1920). "A note on the sheraqi soils of Egypt. A study in partial sterilisation". The Journal of Agricultural Science. 10 (2): 177. doi:10.1017/S0021859600006444. 
  5. ^ Prescott, J. A. (1919). "Nitrification in Egyptian Soils". The Journal of Agricultural Science. 9 (3): 216. doi:10.1017/S0021859600004809. 
  6. ^ OCLC 5131939
  7. ^ Prescott, J. A.; Poole, H. G. (1934). "The Relationships between Sticky Point, Moisture Equivalent, and Mechanical Analysis in some Australian Soils". The Journal of Agricultural Science. 24: 1. doi:10.1017/S0021859600012405.