Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

headline bar
Celebrating Over 90 Years of scientific excellence in agricultural sciences and human nutrition

Photo: Construction of poultry houses, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace is instrumental in overseeing extensive land acquisition and construction at Beltsville.

46 major buildings and numerous greenhouses are constructed on 12,671 acres.
Return to top of page Photo: Poultry Research Lab under construction, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, 1935 Research projects at the Animal Disease Experiment Station in Bethesda, Entomology and Plant Quarantine Station in Takoma Park, and Arlington Farms Experiment Station in Arlington are moved to Beltsville.
Return to top of page Photo: Aerial view of Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp,  Beltsville Agricultural Research Center The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) constructs 21 buildings; 79 miles of roads, trails, and bridges; erects 242 miles of fences; lays 126 miles of water, sewage, and drainage pipes; landscapes 500 acres; and moves 78,000 trees and shrubs.
Return to top of page Photo: Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Workers, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center Many Government agencies begin as part of USDA and are located at Beltsville: Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Biological Survey of the Department of the Interior, Forest Service, and Soil Conservation Service.
Return to top of page Photo: Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Workers, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center In later years, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Office of Naval Research, Department of Commerce, University of Maryland, and Howard University had research projects on USDA land at Beltsville.
Return to top of page Photo: Housing for Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Workers, Beltsville Agricultural Research Cente National Bureau of Standards establishes in 1933 a radio station (WWV) in Building 452 to study radio wave transmissions.
Return to top of page Photo: Laboratory researcher, Beltsville, ca. 1935 In 1935, the Bankhead and Jones Act is passed by Congress. This act results in a change in the research approach of USDA. Significant new funds are available to "conduct research into the laws and principles underlying basic problems in Agriculture in its broadest aspects."

Because of this Act, many research projects at Beltsville change from a very applied to a more basic approach. These projects received about a 10% increase in funding.
Return to top of page Photo: Researcher and worker with lilies in greenhouse,  Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, 1940s Significant contributions to landscape and ornamental plant improvement are made. Releases from the 1930's onward include the first dwarf Easter lilies, the first summer blooming dahlias and chrysanthemums.
Return to top of page Color Photo: Red maple tree Other releases included cold-hardy crapemyrtles, as well as improved carnations, ornithogalums, amaryllis, viburnums, red maples, elms, magnolias, hollies, pyracanthas, and many other plants.

Cultivar development continues today as consumer preferences change.
Return to top of page Photo: Blindfolded subjects participating a taste panel, 1930s After demonstrating the role of vitamin A in maintaining sight, researchers determine adults should consume a minimum of 5,000 to 6,000 International Units of vitamin A per day.
Return to top of page Photo: Beltsville small white turkey, 1940s In response to the need for a smaller, meatier turkey, scientists begin developing a new type of bird. By the late 1940's, the Beltsville small white turkey, which averaged 8-10 pounds with a high percentage of breast meat, begins showing up in stores.

This turkey line is part of the pedigree of nearly every turkey sold in the U.S. today.
Return to top of page Photo: Weighing chicks,  Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, 1930s Vitamin B12, is shown to be essential for egg production and the survival of newly-hatched chicks. This discovery alone increases the hatchability of eggs from 65% to the current 85%, providing an annual savings of 600 million eggs valued at $60 million.

A vaccine is developed to prevent hog cholera, a disease that costs producers more than $100 million a year. By 1978, hog cholera is eradicated in the U.S.
Return to top of page Photo: Vaccinating calf,  Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, 1930s The first successful vaccine is produced to immunize cattle against brucellosis, a disease that can also infect humans.

Phenothiazine, an effective and economical drug for removing many worm parasites from horses, swine, sheep, goats, and poultry, is discovered.

Last Modified: 9/20/2013