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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Third Building Renovated at Beltsville Agricultural Center / October 29, 1996 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

Third Building Renovated at Beltsville Agricultural Center

By Don Comis
October 29, 1996

BELTSVILLE, Md., Oct. 29--A newly renovated research facility focusing on environmental issues such as the Chesapeake Bay cleanup will be dedicated at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, October 31, at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC).

After presentations in the auditorium of Bldg. 003, a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at the refurbished Bldg. 001 housing some of the Center's Natural Resources Institute and Plant Sciences Institute laboratories. Guided tours will follow.

"We will group together those labs concentrating on ways to keep fertilizer and pesticides out of the Chesapeake Bay," BARC director Darwin Murrell said. "Also, the building will house state-of-the-art instruments such as the analytical equipment that detects pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables," he added.

The renovation is a second milestone in BARC's 10-year modernization plan begun in 1988. In 1992, the center dedicated two other upgraded buildings, the Administration Bldg. 003 and another for Natural Resources Institute laboratories.

"Building 001 was completely gutted and transformed from a 1940's vintage building to a facility that meets today's OSHA safety standards," said Murrell. "It will have computerized plant growth rooms and very specialized labs."

The building will primarily house the Environmental Chemistry, Soil Microbial Systems and Weed Science laboratories, consolidating scientists who collaborate on projects such as the one on sustainable agriculture. This project, begun in 1993, is aimed at finding farming techniques that better protect air, soil and water quality, including that of the Chesapeake Bay area.

Scientists in the three labs, which include chemists, microbiologists and weed researchers, also coordinate research in other programs such as:

  • The development of composts from urban, rural and industrial wastes, including drywall and wood scraps from construction sites. [Click here to read more about this research in a story titled, "Trash or Cash Commodity?" published in the July 1996 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.]

  • The cleanup of sites contaminated by toxic metals and organics. This includes "green remediation" or the use of plants to clean soils.

Murrell said that consolidating the scientists will result in cost savings from shared equipment and other efficiencies in research operations. "It will enable them to collaborate more effectively on environmental and sustainable agricultural research projects," he said.

USDA officials, Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, Md., and guests will attend the opening.

Started in 1910, the center has the largest number of agricultural researchers in the country. With 800 scientists and technicians and a total of 1,500 employees, BARC is "known worldwide for the diversity of its research and scientific accomplishments," Murrell said.

Contact: Darwin Murrell, Area Director, (301) 504-6078; fax (301) 504-5863

Last Modified: 4/18/2014
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