Agricultural experiment station
||The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (December 2010)|
An agricultural experiment station (AES) is a scientific research center that investigates difficulties and potential improvements to food production and agribusiness. Experiment station scientists work with farmers, ranchers, suppliers, processors, and others involved in food production and agriculture.
Station scientists study biological, economic, and social problems of food and agriculture and related industries in each state. They investigate such areas as crop variations, soil testing, livestock, processing and animal technology, and other advanced technology in food and agriculture. They also work with specialists called extension agents. These specialists help inform famers about developments in agriculture. Most agricultural experiment station scientists are faculty members of the land-grant universities.
In Canada, about 50 per cent (1988) of the experiment stations are controlled by the Canadian government. The Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa is the headquarters of the federal system. Private industries, universities, and agricultural colleges control the remainder of the stations. Each province has a number of provincial stations. The University of Saskatchewan has extensive agricultural experimental land.
Japan has five agricultural experiment stations of Independent Administrative Institution of National Agriculture and Food Research Organization, former national stations, and many other prefectural stations all over the country.
Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research in Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire, is a leading UK agricultural experiment station owned by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board and operated by its Potato Council division, it engages in a wide range of research disciplines impacting upon crop storage for the British potato industry, including confidential contract research and development.
The Hatch Act of 1887 authorized the establishment of an agricultural experiment station, to be affiliated with the land grant college of agriculture, in each state (7 U.S.C. 361a et seq.). Research done at these stations underpins the curriculum of the colleges, as well as the programs of the Cooperative Extension System.
The United States of America has more than 50 stations (1988), run by about 13,000 scientists (1988). Each state has at least one main station, usually located at and associated with a land-grant university. Many states have branch stations to meet the special needs of different climate and geographical zones in those states.
The United States Department of Agriculture also directly maintains several experiment stations, including the Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in Maryland and the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station near Dubois, Idaho. The Beltsville station contains the main building of the National Agricultural Library. The United States National Arboretum in Washington, DC is a division of the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center.
The U.S. experiment stations are state institutions. However, the federal and state governments cooperate in funding the research done at the stations. The states provide about 60 percent (1988) of the government money. Additional income comes from grants, contracts, and the sale of products. The stations receive a total income of more than $1 billion a year.
U. S. Virgin Islands
The University of the Virgin Islands maintains an experiment station  on the island of St. Croix, working on agroforestry, aquaponics, biotechnology, forage agronomy, and tilapia farming, among other areas of research.
In 1786, Comte d'Angiviller, acting for Louis XVI of France, acquired 366 merino sheep from Spain and began an experimental program of adapting the species to France at the farm attached to Château de Rambouillet. As a result there is the branch of merinos called Rambouillet sheep.
A precursor to the agricultural experiment station was the botanical garden. For example, Christian Gottfried Daniel Nees von Esenbeck founded the Botanische Gärten der Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn in 1818. With need for animal nutrition, scientists such as Karl Heinrich Ritthausen turned to biochemistry to investigate the comparative nutrition from grains and pulses.
And, 1899 act for prefectural agricultural experiment stations supported prefectural movement to establish agricultural experiment stations all over Japan.
John Bennet Lawes, with the help of Joseph Henry Gilbert, established one of the oldest agricultural experiment stations in the world: Rothamsted Experimental Station, located at Harpenden in Hertfordshire, England, was founded in 1843. This establishment was where Ronald Fisher was inspired to important advances in the theory of statistical inference and genetics.
The movement to establish agricultural experiment stations in the USA can be credited to Samuel William Johnson who taught the first course in biochemistry. The development was recounted by William Cumming Rose:
- In 1875, through Johnson’s influence, the Connecticut Legislature made a small appropriation to aid the cost of a two year program of agricultural experimentation, to be conducted by Wilbur Olin Atwater at Wesleyan University, in Middletown, Connecticut. Atwater had received the Ph. D. under Johnson’s direction… Two years later, the State Legislature approved the establishment of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station on a permanent basis, and Johnson became its first director… At the start, it was housed in twos rooms on the lower floor of Sheffield Hall of Yale University. Later, … moved to a building of its own on Huntington Street in New Haven.
The Bussey Institution at Harvard University (since 1871) and the Houghton Farm at Cornwall, New York (1876–88), were privately endowed stations. By 1887 fourteen states had definite organizations and in thirteen others the colleges conducted equivalent work.
Federal aid for state experiment stations began with the Hatch Act of 1887. The Hatch Act authorized direct payment of federal grant funds to each state to establish an agricultural experiment station "under direction of" its land-grant college. Land-grant colleges had been established under the Morrill Act of 1862. The aid was increased by the Adams Act (1906) and the Purnell Act (1925). The provisions of the original Hatch Act and of later legislation providing increasing funds were combined in the Hatch Act of 1955.
The McIntire–Stennis Act of 1962 authorized forestry research studies at experiment stations. The federal government takes part in the experiment station program through the Cooperative Extension Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The department coordinates research activities among the state stations.
- Benaki Phytopathological Institute
- Agricultural University of Iceland
- Potato Council Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research (CSR) facility
- CRS Report for Congress: Agriculture: A Glossary of Terms, Programs, and Laws, 2005 Edition - Order Code 97-905
- Research & Public Service. Rps.uvi.edu. Retrieved on 2014-02-12.
- William Cumming Rose (1969) Recollections of personalities involved in the early history of American biochemistry, Journal of Chemical Education 46:759 to 63
- Dictionary of American History by James Truslow Adams, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1940