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

Former Dean

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.

Continued on Page 15

 

 


 

Continued from Page 1

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 
also constructed.

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.