The Barnes-Aastad Soil and Water Conservation Research Association is a non-profit organization of farm managers and agri-business supporting the research mission of the USDA-Agricultural Research Service and the North Central Soil Conservation Research Laboratory in Morris, MN.
The Barnes-Aastad Association was officially started in 1959. A few years before that, a grass roots effort from mainly local Soil and Water Conservation District personnel, supported by business and political people, had garnered sufficient support to convince Congress of the need for USDA to establish the North Central Soil Conservation Research Laboratory, at Morris, MN, to address increasing concerns about soil erosion and related topics.
USDA-ARS (Agricultural Research Service) purchased 15 acres of land near Morris, on which to construct the laboratory buildings. But there was no land available on which to conduct long- term water run-off and soil erosion research. Since the Morris research program was part of a larger national study on soil erosion, certain criteria had to be met with respect to soil type, % slope etc. The Barnes-Aastad Association was thus formed as a non-profit organization for the purpose of purchasing land, which in turn could be leased, to the Research Laboratory for long- term field experiments. The Barnes-Aastad Association derives its name from Barnes-Aastad clay loam, the predominant soil type on the 130-acre farm that it purchased.
The Barnes-Aastad Association has faithfully supported the research program at the Morris lab by sending delegations to Washington, D.C. each year to express customer and stakeholder need for continued federally-funded agricultural research. Their efforts over the years were instrumental in securing expansions of our facility and broadening the scope of our research program according to high priority needs.
The Association membership consists of a cross-section of the agricultural community in west central Minnesota. They provide input to the research program, cooperate with on-farm experiments, and support various outreach activities. Membership is open to anyone with an interest in resource conservation, environmental protection and a stable rural economy. A life- time membership is granted with a one-time payment of $5.00.
Their business affairs are lead by a Board of Directors. They conduct an annual meeting at the Lab which consists of a business meeting, update on various research activities, capped off by a complimentary noon lunch.