Dr James WS Reith

Originally published in the December 2010 edition of the Membership Magazine The Auger 

Dr James WS Reith

It is with sadness that we mark the passing of Dr James WS Reith, a long time member of the Soil Fertility Department at the Macaulay Institute, Aberdeen.  Dr Reith had an influential career at the Macaulay undertaking diverse range of research and advisory activities.  After completing his 1st class degree and PhD (both Aberdeen University) in 1950 on the comparative studies of broadcasting and placing of mineral nutrients (incidentally, a topic which seems to be back on the agenda) Dr Reith became an integral member of the Department of Soil Fertility.  During 40 years of employment, retiring in 1983, James Reith was directly involved in a period which saw great change in the agricultural industry.  He contributed to many of the fundamental aspects of soil related issues involving the availability of major and minor nutrients with respect to both crop growth and livestock health.  A close link between the Soil Fertility Department and North of Scotland College of Agriculture was insured through the Advisory Soil Service.  At its peak more than 10 000 soil samples from the North of Scotland would be tested and reported on annually by Dr Reith’s group.  Many of the field experiments (often more than 40 a year) used to establish fertiliser and lime requirements also  received his guidance and interpretation.  It is a worthy complement to James Reith and all the supporting staff that these experiments are still providing valuable information today.  The contribution James Reith made to the ‘local’ agricultural industry was marked by him receiving the ‘Royal Northern Award’ and ‘Press and Journal Shield’ in 1982.  The international recognition of the soils research being carried out in the Macaulay and Soil Fertility Department was clearly evident by the large number of visiting researchers that were hosted and an impressive publication record.