The 2014 Philippe Duchaufour Medal is awarded to Johan Six for his fundamental contributions to soil science through studies of biogeochemical cycling, aggregate and soil organic matter dynamics.
Johan Six has made major contributions to characterising and understanding the complex feedbacks between ecosystem management options, global change and biogeochemical cycling. Of particular relevance to the spirit of Philippe Duchaufour Medal are Six’s many contributions to aggregate and soil organic matter dynamics. He was among the first to recognise the importance of linking biological, geochemical and physical processes together in order to better comprehend the role that soils play in the terrestrial carbon cycle. Six’s research has contributed significantly to an improved understanding of the management effects on soil carbon sequestration. His use of appropriate agricultural field experiments to the study of soil organic matter stabilisation in the soil aggregate system led to seminal work on the stabilisation potential and organic matter saturation of soils. In his unique approach, he combined the different fields of soil science to understand the carbon and nitrogen cycles interrestrial ecosystems.
Johan Six is also very committed to improving the livelihoods of smallholders, particularly in Africa. Capitalising on his soil-science background, he added important new aspects to sustainable soil research in developing countries by linking fundamental soil science, bio-economics and ecology. This has brought us closer to quantitatively assess the sustainability of managed systems in critical environments. As such, he has contributed to increase the awareness of soils in the society in relation to global problems.
Six has achieved real and substantial progress that will have a lasting impact on how we see the soil system in relation to pressing issues such as climate change and global food security. He has communicated his findings in illuminative and elegant publications that are benchmarks in their field. With his infectious enthusiasm, humour and passion for soils, Six inspired many others to optimise their scientific efforts. For his exceptional creativity and scholarship, reflected in his track record of accomplishments, he is a worthy recipient of the Philippe Duchaufour Medal.