Nicolás Bellinfante: from soil micromorphology to soil mapping


Juan Gil
jgil@uco.es
University of Cordoba, Spain

Nicolás Bellinfante Crocci has more than 50 years as a soil scientist. He obtained the Degree in Chemistry at the University of Seville (Spain). Since his student days, he  was very interested in soil science research.  Under the direction of Prof. Paneque, his early studies concerned the mineralogy of coarse fractions from Mediterranean forest soils in southern Spain.

Nico in Sierra Morena (southern Spain), where he started studying soils, 5 decades after.

Nico in Sierra Morena (southern Spain), where he started studying soils, 5 decades after.

His first international work was published in 1964, on soil micromorphology in the Atlas of Soil Micromorphology and got his PhD degree with the thesis “Micromorfología de Tierras Pardas de la Sierra Norte de Sevilla” (Micromophology of brownish soils from the Natural Park Sierra Norte de Sevilla, Spain).

Lorena and Nico in a experimental farm in 2009.

Nico and his colleague Lorena in an experimental farm in 2009.

In those years he obtained a position as Research Assistant in the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and was awarded a scholarship to work in the Bundesforschungsanstalt für Forst und Landwirtschafts (German Federal Research Centre for Forest and Agriculture) in Hamburg (Germany) where he began collaborating with Prof. Kubiëna.

DIE MIKROMORPHOMETRISCHE BEDENALAYSE_egussd

Die mikromorphometrische Bodenanalyse (Morphometrical soil analysis), edited by Prof. Kubiëna and co-authored by Prof. Bellinfante (1967).

During the 70s, his contributions allowed the scientific community to achieve deep new insights into morphology, genesis, classification and micromorphology of Mediterranean forest soils. His knowledge and experience in the study and techniques of soil mineralogy allowed him to join as an expert to the ceramic industry, where he held executive positions of increasing responsibility in various national and multinational companies in Spain, Portugal, Mexico and USA during the following two decades.

After this long period, he returned in 1994 to the University of Seville (Spain) where he got a position as Professor in Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry after public contest. Since then, he participated actively in the formation of many students of Chemistry and Biology, especially at upper levels and PhD. At the same time, he carried out an intense research activity. So, in the late 90s he directed some work on the improvement and diversification of ceramic and collaborated as technical adviser in the production process of ceramic raw materials. In this same period and early 2000s, he collaborated in the definition and evaluation of generic reference levels for trace elements in soils and soil pollution by organic compounds in Andalusia (southern Spain).

However, the years between 2003 and his retirement are probably the most active and those of greatest scientific production. In those years he was responsible for the implementation of a mapping project in the south of Spain to develop a model of ecological information based on geomorpho-pedological units.

Left: Nico during a field trip in Ukraine. Right: Juan, José Manuel and Nico during description of a Chernozem.

Left: Nico during a field trip in Ukraine. Right: Juan, José Manuel and Nico during description of a Chernozem.

In this context, he directed and coordinated the work of five groups of soil scientists from the universities of Seville and Cordoba (Spain). His contribution to human values ​​and scientific excellence has been essential for the formation and consolidation of the inter-university research group MED_Soil, with nearly forty researchers and students from several universities in different countries, and with which I have the honor of sharing scientific work and concerns.

From left to right: Antonio, Lorena, Nico and Juan (author) in Vienna during EGU2012.

From left to right: Antonio, Lorena, Nico and Juan (author) in Vienna during EGU2012.

The drive and determination of Nico also have been essential for the adoption by the group of new research related to the study of physical and chemical properties of soils affected by fire. Also during this time period, he has directed several doctoral theses, has organized and participated in national and international conferences and has published several books and numerous articles in national and international journals.

Some members of the MED_Soil Research Group. Nico is wearing hat.

Some members of the MED_Soil Research Group. Nico is wearing hat.

Finally, Prof. Bellinfante, Nico, has left a trace of humanity, scientific rigor and tireless work for all of us who work with him, and therefore always has our acknowledgement and appreciation. But under no circumstances should this be interpreted as a final reference completion of its activity: the day after his “forced retirement”, he became (in his own words) “the new internship of the MED_Soil Research Group”, a title he still holds.

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About Antonio

I am a Biologist (BS in 1996) and PhD in Soil Science (2000), and work teaching and researching at the University of Sevilla (Spain). My on-going work includes the study of soil degradation processes in Mediterranean areas, soil erosion and the impact of wildfires on soils.
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