Friedrich Albert Fallou (1794–1877) was the German founder of modern soil science. While working as a lawyer and tax assessor, Fallou established himself as an independent scientist, a recognized authority in the natural history of farm and forest soil. In 1862 he advanced the idea that soil was separate in nature from geology. Intent on establishing the study of soils as an independent science, Fallou introduced the term pedology (German: pedologie).
Friedrich Albert Fallou came from an aristocratic French Huguenot family. He was the son of a judicial bailiff, and spent his childhood in Rochlitz and Grimma, where he was a student of the Prince's School. He never married. From 1814 to 1817 Fallou studied jurisprudence at the University of Leipzig. From 1818 to 1824 he worked as a lawyer in Colditz. In 1825 he was appointed town clerk of Waldheim and worked as administrative officer at the City Court, and as a land value tax assessor. His love of nature turned his attention to soils, which he studied as an independent scholar. He also wrote geographic descriptions of Saxon regions and towns, which he published in the journal "Saxonia" under the pseudonym "Baldwin from Eichberg". In 1833 he resigned as city clerk and again ran a practice as a lawyer and land evaluator, this time until 1850. After that, Fallou devoted himself almost exclusively to geological, mineralogical and pedological studies. In 1856 he moved to the Diedenmühle near Waldheim in Saxony, living here as a independent scientist until his death.
Working in soil taxation for most of his life, Fallou was unhappy with the declining soil quality in his region. He developed a passionate interest in soil. Fallou began independent geological, petrographic and mineralogical studies in the 1830s. He had a particular interest in the granulite geology near Prachatice on the eastern edge of the Bohemian Forest. In the years after 1840 he devoted his time to the origin of agricultural and forest soils. His first major publication was a description of the rock formations of Muldengaues and their influence on vegetation. This was published in 1845 and received an award from the Princely Jablonowski'schen Society in Leipzig.
In 1853 he published his book "The arable lands of the Kingdom of Saxony", along with a second edition in 1855. Through numerous study trips in Saxony and neighboring countries, Fallou recognized the need to make soil science knowledge applicable to agriculture and forestry use.
In his two books "First Principles of Soil Science" (1857, 2nd ed. 1865) and "Pedology or General and Special Soil Science" (1862) he developed his collected field observations of soil into a systematic approach. He explained why soil formation was worthy of study and appealed for recognition of soil science as a discipline. In the 1862 work, he presented a proposal for soil profile description, discussed the physical and chemical properties of soils, and proposed classification of soils based on mineral properties. Based on these works, Fallou is mentioned prominently as the first among founders of modern soil science.
Fallou's subsequent works were "The land of the Kingdom of Saxony and its surroundings ..." (1869) and "The main soil types of the North and Baltic countries of the German Empire scientifically considered" (1875). These along with several articles published in Julius Adolph Stöckhardt's magazine Zeitschrift für deutsche Landwirthe (Journal for German farmers) gained him recognition for his scientific advancements.
Vasily Dokuchaev (1846-1903) is regarded today as more influential than Fallou, however in the years closely following Dokuchaev's death, Fallou was regarded as the founder of modern soil science by Dokuchaev's student, influential Russian pedologist Konstantin Dimitrievich Glinka (1867-1927). Fallou's historical status as founder is supported by Moscow soil scientist and bibliographer of Russian soil science, Arseny Yarilov, Editor of “Pochvovedenie” (means soil science). Yarilov titled his 1904 article about Fallou in Pochvovedenie Friedrich Albert Fallou, Founder of Soil Science.
- Fallou, F. A. (1845), Die Gebirgsformationen zwischen Mittweida und Rochlitz, der Zschopau und beiden Mulden und ihr Einfluß auf die Vegetation. Versuch einer geognostischen-agronomischen Beschreibung [The mountain formations between Mittweida and Rochlitz, the Zschopau and two troughs, and their influence on vegetation. Attempt a geo-agronomic description] (in German), Leipzig: Staritz
- Fallou, F. A. (1853), Die Ackererden des Königreichs Sachsen und der angrenzenden Gegend, geognostisch untersucht und classificiert. Eine bodenkundliche Skizze [The arable earth of the Kingdom of Saxony and the neighboring area, geology examined and classified. A soil sketch] (in German), Leipzig: Freiberg,
2nd edition published by Gerhard
- Fallou, F. A. (1857), nfangsgründe der Bodenkunde [First Principles of Soil Science] (in German), Dresden: G. Schönfeld´s Buchhandlung,
2nd edition published 1865
- Fallou, F. A. (1862), Pedologie oder allgemeine und besondere Bodenkunde [Pedology or general and special soil science] (in German), Dresden: G. Schönfeld´s Buchhandlung
- Fallou, F. A. (1869), Grund und Boden des Königreichs Sachsen und seiner Umgebung in sämmtlichen Nachbarstaaten in volks-, land- und forstwirthschaftlicher Beziehung naturwissenschaftlich untersucht [Land of the Kingdom of Saxony and all neighboring regions, scientifically studied in relationship to folks, lands, and forestry] (in German), Dresden: G. Schönfeld´s Buchhandlung
- Fallou, F. A. (1875), Die Hauptbodenarten der Nord- und Ostsee-Länder deutschen Reiches naturwissenschaftlich betrachtet. Skizze [The main soil types of the North and Baltic countries of the German Empire scientifically considered. Sketch] (in German), Dresden: G. Schönfeld´s Buchhandlung