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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

ARS 50th Anniversary Celebration

Logo Image for "A R S : The Future Grows Here"Agricultural Research Service
50th Anniversary

Local Event

Southern Plains Area
Conservation and Production Research Laboratory,
Bushland, TX


Conservation and Production Research Laboratory
Bushland, Texas

BUSHLAND -- The USDA-ARS Conservation and Production Research Laboratory, located less than a mile west of Bushland is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the USDA Agricultural Research Service "The Bushland facility dates to decades earlier," said Dr. R. Nolan Clark, Bushland Laboratory Director. "In 1934, when skies over the nation's capital were first darkened by dust, Congress began legislation that led to our lab's founding."

By 1936, federal funding for wind erosion research in the Texas panhandle was in place, and land was purchased in Potter and Randall counties. A local committee formed to set up the facility was composed of H. H. Finnell, Denny Hill and Dr. Horace Grub from the USDA Soil Conservation Service and assisted by U. S. Rep. Marvin Jones, Extension agent Art Bralley of Potter County, and Dr. C. J. Whitfield of the Soil Conservation Service in Dalhart.

Land west of Bushland was chosen because it represented the fine-textured soils of the southern Great Plains and was severely eroded. The first experiments were conducted at the laboratory in 1938.

Back then, the site was called the Amarillo Experiment Station and staffed by Whitfield, director; and researchers Hugh Poterfield, soil erosion; C. E. Van Doren, dryland production; and David Reid, small grains breeder. During World War II operations were reduced to a standstill. After the war, several new scientists were added to the staff and the research program was greatly expanded to include machinery, irrigation, entomological, fertility and weed control.

Throughout its history as a joint state and federal location, Bushland scientists of USDA's Agricultural Research Service and the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station have worked side by side in cooperative studies and research activities.

In 1959, an Amarillo Business Men's Committee worked to secure funds to expand facilities at Bushland. A new office and laboratory building was completed in 1961. Later expansions have included a plant and soil processing building and water laboratory. Also added were a 350-head research feedlot and the Kenneth Porter wheat seed processing and greenhouse complex.

"People driving by our facilities may not be aware of the lab's origins or our history," Clark said. "But, our research has always been focused on the farming and ranching practices that dominate the High Plains."

Over the years, research at Bushland has included dryland farming practices, irrigation engineering, water conservation and management, small grain breeding, grain sorghum improvement, sunflower improvement, sugarbeet production, soil fertility, livestock and range management, animal health, groundwater recharge, grass establishment, weed control, entomology, and climate.

Current studies also include conservation tillage and residue management, irrigation management, crop water use, plant pathology, beneficial insect control, wheat breeding, animal nutrition and health, dust and ammonia emissions from feed yards, food safety, and renewable energy technologies.




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Last Modified: 9/8/2015