Alberto Boerger

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Albert Boerger (known as Alberto Boerger in Uruguay and South America) was a German Empire scientist that worked in phytotechnology. He was born in Förde (today Grevenbrück) in Westphalia on November 4, 1881. He was hired by the government of Eastern Republic of Uruguay in 1911 to conduct the work of plant breeding in this country, taking as reference the experiences of the United States and the German Empire. He arrived in the Eastern Republic of Uruguay on March 5, 1912, after two years of research in the experimental stations Toledo(Department of Canelones, Uruguay) and Bañados de Medina (Department of Cerro Largo, Uruguay) was transferred on March 5, 1914 to the experimental station La Estanzuela (Department of Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay) with his collaborators, who performed a very relevant work for the Uruguay and Argentina. Dr. Boerger’s studies in plant breeding – especially wheats – placed their work at the best scientific efforts of the first part of the 20th century. Albert Boerger died in the Eastern Republic of Uruguay on March 28, 1957, and his remains lie in the park with his name in the lands of the current Experimental Station INIA La Estanzuela Alberto Boerger (La Estanzuela, Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay)that belong to the National Agricultural Research Institute (INIA) of Uruguay.


  • 1 Biography
    • 1.1 Germany
    • 1.2 Work in Uruguay
    • 1.3 Scientific research from La Estanzuela for the region
    • 1.4 Eponyms
  • 2 References
  • 3 Other links



Albert Boerger was born on November 4, 1881 in the town of Förde, Westphalia, German Empire), son of farmers Teodoro Boerger and Maria Kersling that work as labradors. In 1902 he began his studies in Natural Sciences and General Engineering in Hannover (German Empire); then he studied agronomy and political economics at the Prussian Royal Academy of Agriculture of Bonn University, where he specialized in phytotechnology. He received a PhD from the University of Giessen (Germany).

Work in Uruguay[edit]

In the second presidency of José Batlle y Ordoñez, this Uruguayan president wanted to industrialize the country; For which it encouraged changes in the agricultural sector, among which was the incorporation of the best technicians from abroad. For instance, Drs. Alexander Backhaus and Daniel Salmon directed the Faculty of Agronomy and Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of the Republic, respectively.

Albert Boerger after working as a technical director of seedlings in a Saxon company, in 1910 entered as assistant of the chair of phytotechnology (University of Bonn) of his former teacher Theodor Remy. In the same year it is part of an official German government mission to study grasslands and forage production in Austria, Denmark, Hungary, Switzerland and Sweden. And after that, in the stage of constitution of the Agronomic Stations in Uruguay is contracted by the Government of Uruguay like teacher and senior researcher by recommendation of Alexander Backhaus.

Albert Boerger arrives to Uruguay March 5, 1912 with his young assistant Enrique Klein. The first field of activity of the two German scientists was the nursery of Toledo (Department of Canelones), now known under the name of National nursery Dr. Alejandro Gallinal (Department of Canelones, Uruguay). According to Bonfanti (2010) this is the worst documented period of Boerger and Klein’s activities in Uruguay, although the seed selection must have started in this period. Work that in April 1913 was transferred to the Agricultural Station of Bañados de Medina, now known under the name of Station Experimental Prof. Bernardo Rosengurtt (Cerro Largo). An experimental station with six hectares, where six experiments were organized with pre-selected materials in the nursery of Toledo. In this first period his first investigations were related to the selection of wheats, due to problems of adaptation of the foreign wheats to the conditions of Uruguay.

Scientific research from La Estanzuela for the region[edit]

On March 5, 1914 Alberto Boerger arrives as Director, and Eng. Agr. Enrique Klein as head of the plant breeding division of the “La Estanzuela” (agronomic station, currently known as the Alberto Boerger INIA La Estanzuela Experimental Station) in the Department of Colonia, Uruguay.

After six years of efforts, in 1918, from La Estanzuela, Dr. Boerger’s research team released the first Uruguayan wheat varieties. Genetic selection based on the selection of native seeds. These came from the natural selection of seeds imported by European immigrants in Uruguay.

The successes achieved by Boerger and Klein in the early years with wheat varieties. A work begun in 1912 with 377 selections of wheats that highlightedthe plant breeding as a powerful tool for improve the agricultural yields, which led in 1919 to the recategorization of La Estanzuela by legislation such as Phytotechnical Institute and National Seedling.

Enrique Klein’s uneasy personality, coupled with his successful experience with the selection of barley (Cervecería Argentina at Quilmes, Argentina) made his contract with the government of Uruguay until 1920; then he emigrated to Argentine in May 1, 1919 to the Argentine breeder of Agricultural Plants (at the moment known like Criadero Klein). This physical separation of the two disciples of the Bonn University implied in the facts an expansion of the influence and the scientific / technological development, since the centers (the Estanzuela and Criadero Argentine of Agricultural Plants) maintained the contact and their collaboration until today.

The yield of the wheats generated in this period were of relevance for both Uruguay and Argentina. Reports from 1920 to 1924 indicate that one-fifth of Argentina’s wheat surface was based on seeds selected by the works of Boerger and Klein in La Estanzuela.

In 1937, the Russian botanist and geneticist Nikolai Vavilov visited Dr. Boerger in La Estanzuela.

The Estanzuela under the direction of Dr. Boerger attempted to reflect in his organization with the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Breeding Research of Münchenberg (Germany). The Kaiser Wilhelm Institut was a scientific organization with similar aims to its predecessor after World War II, the Max Planck Society. In the period that Albert Boerger assumes as Director the Kaiser Wilhelm Institut für Züchtungsforschung was a scientific center of worldwide recognition, for example was its Director Erwin Baur, now recognized as the father of plant virology. Boerger aimed to create a research center with capacities to establish links of scientific / technological cooperation with practical agriculture, and transfer the transfer to producers to universities. Characteristic that would change in the work of the Estanzuela after its death in March 28, 1957, when the experimental station changed its name to Center of Agricultural Research Dr. Albert Boerger in 1961.


  • Experimental Station “Dr. Alberto Boerger” INIA La Estanzuela, de INIA, Department of Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay.
  • Square “Dr. Alberto Boerger”, Artigas avenue, Colonia del Sacramento, Department of Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay.
  • School Nº 55 “Dr. Alberto Boerger”, Colonia del Sacramento, Department of Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay.
  • Colony of farmers “Dr. Alberto Boerger”, Department of Paysandú, Uruguay.


  • Boerger, A. 1924.Los trabajos fitotécnicos realizados en el Uruguay y su influencia en el desenvolvimiento económico del Río de la Plata (The breeding work carried out in Uruguay and its influence on the economic development of the Río de la Plata). Sociedad Rural Argentina, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • Boerger, A. 1931. Ganadería versus Agricultura. Contribución al estudio de las fuerzas productoras del país, emprendido por la Comisión Agronómica de Economía Nacional(Livestock vs. Agriculture. Contribution to the study of the productive forces of the country, undertaken by the Agronomic Commission of National Economy). University of Republic, Montevideo, Uruguay.
  • Boerger, A. 1933. La cultura Latina de Goethe en la formación de su personalidad. Con motivo del acto de Homenaje a Goethe, realizado en ocasión del primer centenario de su fallecimiento, en el Servicio Oficial de Difusión Radioeléctrica (SODRE)(The Latin culture of Goethe in the formation of his personality. On the occasion of the act of Homage to Goethe, realized on the occasion of the first centenary of his death, in the Official Service of Radio), Montevideo, Uruguay.
  • Boerger, A. 1939. La Rotación. Problema fundamental de una agricultura estable considerada a través de veinticinco años de experimentación en La Estanzuela (Crop rotation. Fundamental problem of a stable agriculture considered through twenty-five years of experimentation in La Estanzuela). Faculty of Agronomy and Veterinary of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • Boerger, A. 1940. Conferencia: Las perspectivas del cultivo triguero en el Brasil (Conference: The perspectives of the wheat crop in the Brazil). Segundo Congreso Rio Grandense de Agronomía en Porto Alegre, Brasil.
  • Morrison, B.Y.1945. Investigaciones Agronómicas: Por Alberto Boerger (Agronomic Research: By Alberto Boerger). Montevideo, Uruguay: Casa A. Barreiro y Ramos S. A. 3 Vols. 2, 250 pp. 1943. En Castellano, Agron J 37: 76–7. [1]
  • Boerger, A. 1948. Conferencia: El ideario de Larrañaga naturalista, desde el punto de vista de la Biología Moderna (Lecture: The ideology of Larrañaga naturalist, from the point of view of Modern Biology). Exposición de Homenaje al Sabio Uruguayo, Pbro. Dámaso Antonio Larrañaga, en ocasión del primer centenario de su muerte, Montevideo, Uruguay.
  • Bonfanti, D. 2010. Desde la disconformidad eufórica hasta el pesimismo melancólico. Elites, Estado y técnicos extranjeros en los procesos de innovación agrícola en el Uruguay de los centenarios (1910–1930)(From euphoric discontent to melancholy pessimism. Elites, State and foreign technicians in the processes of agricultural innovation in Uruguay of the centenaries (1910–1930)). Revista Encuentros Latinoamericanos, nro.10/11, año IV, diciembre de 2010. [2]
  • Alberto Boerger en Uruguay (Albert Boerger in Uruguay). [3]
  • Harwood, J. 2012. Capítulo 4: Success breeds trouble: the controversy over public-sector breeding 1902–1933. En: Europe’s green revolution and others since. The rise and the fall of peasant-friendly plant breeding. Routledge Explorations in Economic History Wearset Ltd. [4]
  • INIA. 2009. Evolución Institucional. Antecedentes Institucionales Pre-INIA (1914–1989)(Institutional evolution. Institutional Background Pre-INIA (1914–1989)). Revista INIA 19, 4 – 10. [5]
  • MEC, 2011. Alberto Boerger. Las Calles del Bicentenario 1811–2011 (Alberto Boerger. The Streets of the Bicentennial 1811–2011). [6]
  • Olivero, R. 2013. Centenario de la Estación Experimental Bernardo Rosengurtt. [7]
  • Wieland, T. 2009. Autarky and Lebensraum. The political agenda of academic plant breeding in Nazi Germany. Journal of History of Science and Technology 3. [8]

Other links[edit]

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