|Delmarva Farmer, Special Report, August 6, 1991 Page 1|
50 Years and Counting…
The University of Delaware Research and Education Center marks a half-century of service to Agriculture
The Substation site, the former John A. Tyndall Farm, was purchases for $7,555
EDITOR'S NOTE: Much of the beneficiaries of a half century of
early history of the University of scientific investigation at the site.
Delaware Agricultural Experiment In celebration ofthefacility's50th
Substation (now the Research and anniversary, Dr. Donald F.Crossan,
Education Center) near Georgetown, former dean of the College of Agri-
Del., is unfamiliar to the farmers cultural Sciences, has compiled the
and consumers who are the current following history.
By D. F. CROSSAN
College of Agricultural Sciences
University of Delaware
1n 1941 the Delaware General Assembly passed "an act to provide for the establishment of an agricultural Substation for lower Delaware," as an annex to the University of Delaware's experimental farm in Newark. This act was the culmination of efforts begun in the fall of 1938. The nucleus for the Newark farm had been purchased 34 years before to provide for agricultural research of the Delaware Agricultural Experiment Station, a unit of the
College of Agricultural Sciences.
A paragraph from the station's 1940 annual report indicates there was a growing need for a southern Delaware location to assist in carrying out research projects. In that report, Dr. George Shuster, dean and station director, wrote:
Many investigations must of necessity be carried on in the midst of the enterprise concerned if results applicable to the local situation are to be obtained. This has been partially accomplished through coop-
eration with interested farmers, or
by the leasing of land. Other inves-
tigations, due to their fundamental
nature, must be carried on at the
Experiment Station where laborato-
ries, library facilities, greenhouse
facilities, and facilities for controlled
conditions may be available.
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The need to carry out experiments
"in the midst of the enterprise concerned" had become very evident. The soil types and environmental conditions of New Castle County vary enough to cause different results when the same experiments are carried out on the sandy soils of Sussex County.
Leasing land on private farms was expensive and then, as now, the Experiment Station had limited funds to spend on a wide range of problems. Siting research plots on private farms also made it harder to control experiments for reliable results. These circumstances led university trustees and representatives of farm organizations to seek state funds to establish an arm of the Experiment Station as a Substation in Sussex County. Gov. W. W. Bacon appointed a commission to look at available farm sites. The members were Harley Hastings of Laurel, Preston Townsend of Selbyville and Kenneth Kadow, a University of Delaware researcher.
They looked at 87 potential sites before arranging for the purchase, on August 30, 1941, of the 310‑acre John A. Tyndall farm at public auction for $7,555.
By the spring of 1942, an experimental peach orchard was planted. The Delaware Agricultural Experiment Station's annual report the following year notes:
Further developments at the Sub
station consist of an experimental
apple orchard, truck crop investiga-
tions, a nutrition‑disease unit for
poultry investigations, and facilities
for‑ investigations as to the feeding
and management of laying flocks. A
13 x 120 foot
brooder house was
By 1944 scientists reported significant progress at the new facility in research on disease control in potatoes, vegetable varieties, peach pollination, agronomic crops and insect control in vegetables. From subsequent reports of the mid‑ to late‑1940s, it is clear that the Substation had become well‑established as a research center.
In 1986, to better reflect its ongoing contributions to the region's changing agricultural economy, the university's Board of Trustees voted to rename the Substation the University of Delaware Research and Education Center.
Modern agriculture is a very complex and sophisticated business enterprise. Research at the Center today still encompasses some aspects of variety testing, vaccine evaluation, feeding trials and pesticide comparisons. But there also is significant research on sustaining agriculture using environmentally acceptable methods, in carrying out educational programs to assist in wise farm management decisions and in seeking out potentially new crops and marketing strategies.
Each year, several hundred meetings, conferences and seminars involving several thousand people are held at the research and education center. The Center continues to fulfill the original desires of the 1941 governor's commission to provide for agricultural research in southern Delaware. From the start, it also has provided important educational programs through the Cooperative Extension unit of the college and university.