Vil’iams, Vasilii Robertovich
Born Sept. 27 (Oct. 9), 1863, in Moscow; died there Nov. 11, 1939. Soviet soil scientist. Member of the Academy of Sciences of Byelorus-sian SSR (1929), academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1931), member of the Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences (1935), and member of the Communist Party beginning in 1928. Son of a civil engineer.
In 1887, Vil’iams graduated from the Petrovskoe Agricultural Academy (now the K. A. Timiriazev Moscow Agricultural Academy). From 1894, he headed the subdepartment of general agriculture and soil science there (later named the department of soil science), which he directed until his death. From 1922 to 1925 he was the rector of the K. A. Timiriazev Moscow Agricultural Academy. Vil’iams developed the studies of V. V. Dokuchaev on soil, and together with P. A. Kostychev was the initiator of agronomical soil science.
Vil’iams substantiated the leading role of biological factors in soil formation. He established the teaching of minor biological rotations of substances as the basis for the development of soil. In his studies on soil formation he stressed the unity of the development of inorganic and organic nature. Vil’iams connected the development of soils and their properties with fertility. He established agronomical measures according to the conditions of preservation and continuous increase in the fertility of the soil. He worked out the grass-land system of agriculture, the main link of which was field and fodder crop rotation in combination with a correct cultvation of the soil and the application of fertilizers; the system also included use of machinery and the creation of field-protecting forest belts. Vil’iams attached great importance to the organization of territories and the rational usage of arable lands.
Vil’iams’ studies have erroneous theses. He came out against the use of several soil-cultivation implements (the harrow and rolling press). He underestimated winter grains in the southern regions of the European part of the USSR and also proposed the general introduction of a grassland system, exaggerating its significance. Vil’iams advocated the general plowing of grasslands only in late fall.
Vil’iams was a deputy to the first convocation of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, a member of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee (1928), and a member of the Moscow Soviet (1922). He was awarded the Order of Lenin and two other orders. In 1968 a gold medal named after Vil’iams was established for distinguished scientific work and discoveries in the field of agriculture.
WORKSLugovodstvo i kormovaia ploshchad’, 5th ed. Moscow, 1948. Pochvovedenie. Zemledelie s osnovami pochvovedeniia, 5th ed. Moscow, 1946.
Osnovy zemledeliia, 6th ed. Moscow, 1948. Sobr. soch., vols. 1-12. Moscow, 1948-53.
M. N. PERSHINA