From Alchemy to Chemistry:
Five Hundred Years of Rare and Interesting Books

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Rare Book Room Exhibit

LIEBIG, JUSTUS VON (1803 - 1873). Die Organische Chemie in ihre Anwendung auf Agricultur und Physiologie. Braunschweig, 1840.

One of the most formidable figures in chemistry during the mid-nineteenth century was Justus von Liebig. He was of a fiery temperment and was involved in many bitter quarrels. He had a good and kind heart, however, and when he took up an idea he threw himself into its propagation with extreme earnestness and ardour. Liebig played a leading role in the development of large scientific laboratories and agricultural experimental stations. His numerous scientific contributions include establishing the radical theory of organic compounds, the hydrogen theory of acids, and championing the use of artificial fertilizer in agriculture. Within four months after he began systematically studying the relationship of organic chemistry to agriculture and physiology, he had written the first version of one of the most important books in the history of scientific agriculture. Liebig's Die Organische Chemie in ihre Anwendung auf Agricultur und Physiologie (organic chemistry in its applications to agriculture and physiology) supported the view that the source of carbon assimilated into plant substances is atmospheric carbon dioxide, and that the source of hydrogen and oxygen is water. He was the first to realize that the addition of a single fertilizer will increase crop yield only if a particular soil can deliver all the other necessary nutrients. Depending on the circumstances, therefore, any of the essential minerals (nitrates, phosphates, potassium, etc) might become the controlling factor. This generalization became known as Liebig's "Law of the Minimum" and it remains today a central concept in agriculture.

Small - 170 KB
Large - 685 KB

Small - 190 KB
Large - 890 KB

buttonbar.jpg (5301 bytes)