Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 04 Issue 02

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Volume 04, No. 2
Pages 52 - 55

Iron, Liebig's Law, and the Greenhouse

John H. Martin
First Paragraph

Baron Justis von Liebig (1803–1873), the founder of modern organic chemistry, is also recognized as the father of agricultural chemistry. He was the first to determine the exact elements taken up by plants from the air and soil, and this enabled him to develop efficient fertilizers. He raised the fundamental operations of agriculture to the level of an exact science (Moulton, 1942). With this knowledge, Liebig was the first to realize that the “…growth of a plant is dependent on the amount of food stuff which is presented to it in minimum quantity.” This has become known in ecological circles as Liebig’s Law of the Minimum (Odum, 1971).


Martin, J.H. 1991. Iron, Liebig’s Law, and the greenhouse. Oceanography 4(2):52–55, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.1991.02.