The 2020 Philippe Duchaufour Medal is awarded to Georg Guggenberger for outstanding research in the field of soil science, with special emphasis on conceptual work on the soil organic carbon evolution and interaction of organic matter with mineral structures.
Georg Guggenberger is internationally recognised for his great contributions to soil science and greatest impact in terms of understanding the chemistry of soil organic matter, focussing on basic and applied research to protect soil organic matter and maintain soil fertility. His contribution to soil science and soil chemistry has been extremely important and wide, pioneering many frontiers of the discipline.
Guggenberger’s modern vision of multidisciplinary approaches to soil science related to environmental changes has been very significant. His research spans a number of scales, from controlled and elaborate laboratory experiments to complex field-scale observation sites covering most parts of the world, which also means covering different soil systems.
Guggenberger works at the interface of soil development, management and the environment within a global-change context, including on issues such as soil functioning, biogeochemical cycling and climate change. His research covers a wide range of different pristine and managed soil systems in almost all regions of the world, from Arctic to boreal, to cool temperate and dry temperate, and to subtropical and tropical ecosystems, in order to investigate the relationship of biotic and abiotic factors in soil organic matter formation and stabilisation and its relation to ensuring different soil functions.
Guggenberger stands out as an example of how continuous exploration of analytical techniques and their applications to well-scrutinised systems advances our understanding of soils in different climatic zones. He was among a small group of researchers who recognised the importance of linking the investigation of these processes from field to laboratory and within interdisciplinary research groups in order to better comprehend the role that soils play in the terrestrial element cycles.
Guggenberger has thus made outstanding contributions to soil science within a developing framework that involves fundamental studies based on soil field- and laboratory-scale experiments, supported by the use of sophisticated analytical techniques for the characterisation of organic and mineral interactions in soils. His research has not only considerably advanced our knowledge in soil science in general, but also provides a fundamental basis for further detailed studies of organo-mineral interactions as well as more applied issues like resource-efficient agriculture and quantitative assessment of environmental quality.