Friday, September 28, 2012

Sesquicentennial Stories: The Promise of UK #126

Experiment Station Building (Scovell Hall)
The Kentucky Agriculture Experiment Station was established in Fayette County in September 1885, after President James Patterson and two Board of Trustees members attended a meeting in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in which representatives from state agricultural colleges discussed the need for scientific, experimental, and agricultural research. Roughly a dozen other state colleges had established experiment stations as part of their agriculture departments and Patterson urged that Kentucky follow suit. This trend preceded the official legislation passed by Congress in 1887, known as the Hatch Act, which called for every state to establish agriculture experiment stations associated with the state agricultural college, and provided federal funding for those experiment stations. Following this act, the experiment station became officially and legally known as the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station, federally funded, controlled by the state of Kentucky, and housed in the University of Kentucky Agriculture department.
Old seed laboratory general view of workers at the Experiment Station Building
 Less than a year after the experiment station was established, the Kentucky General Assembly enacted a law regulating the properties of fertilizers to be sold in the state, making the Experiment Station responsible for the analysis and labeling of the approved products. This was the first regulatory activity assigned to the Agricultural Experiment Station, but more responsibility would follow as other regulations were passed, so that by 1918, the Experiment Station was regulating fertilizers, livestock feed, seeds, nursery products, as well as foods and drugs.

Tobacco wagon at the Experiment Farm. 1899
Through its involvement with regulation, and also through the publication of bulletins explaining the results of research, the Experiment Station began to gain the trust and respect of farmers throughout the state. This relationship continued to develop and be maintained through the Experiment Station's involvement and partnership with the Kentucky Cooperative Extension service that operated at the county level.

Insectary at the Experiment Farm. 11/2/1908
 In 1910, the Experiment Station became part of the newly formed College of Agriculture of the University of Kentucky, being designated as the department for research and graduate work. The College of Agriculture also contained the Department of Agriculture, the teaching and undergraduate area, and the Department of Extension Work, the precursor to the Cooperative Extension Service. At its establishment, the Agricultural Experiment Station was given twelve acres at the edge of the campus to use as a research farm. When that land proved insufficient, the Experiment Station began purchasing additional land adjacent to the campus, growing to 230 acres by 1908 and approximately 580 acres by 1930.
 Also, the Experiment Station expanded into other parts of the state, obtaining two "substations" in 1925, one in Breathitt County in eastern Kentucky, and the other in Caldwell County in western Kentucky. A 600 acre farm in Owen County was obtained in 1955. Although most of the original farmland located next to the campus has been transformed into buildings, dormitories, and a football stadium, the Experiment Station continues to research on several farms in Fayette County, as well as the locations in Breathitt, Caldwell, and Owen counties, and a facility in Woodford County obtained in 1991.
Strawberry pickers at Boxwell Fox's place in Winchester. 4/24/1905
 Since its establishment, the Agricultural Experiment Station has researched ways to improve crops, prevent diseases in both livestock and plants, and analyze and improve soils across the state. During times of crisis, such as World Wars I and II and the Great Depression, Experiment Station research was essential to increasing food production and ensuring the survival of farmers and farms statewide.
June bug injury, grape. 8/5/1896
Additionally, the Experiment Station partnered with the U.S. Army Medical Corps and government organizations such as the TVA to provide research and technical advice and instruction. Over the years, tobacco research was and continues to be a major area of investigation for the Experiment Station. Today, other research areas include agribusiness, international trade, food processing, nutrition, community development, and the environment.

The reports may be researched on

The Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station (KAES) has been providing research results to farmers and residents for more than 130 years. With external grants and contracts now reaching over $31,000,000 a year, UK’s College of Agriculture researchers address problems of agribusiness, consumers, international trade, food processing, nutrition, community development, soil and water resources, and the environment with over 300 externally funded projects. The research continuum reaches from basic to applied science, with new fundamental knowledge as well as applied knowledge that has impacts on the lives of Kentuckians and people across the world.

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