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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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ARRA - Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Beltsville, Maryland

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Link to ARS Recovery Act Info.

Link to USDA Recovery Act Info.

Link to White House's site.

Photo: Cow

Scientists with ARS's Animal Improvement Programs Lab, at Beltsville, Maryland, have estimated the genetic merit of millions of cows.

Beltsville Agricultural Research Center
Beltsville, Maryland

  • Scope of work under Recovery Act

Amount: $10 million

Repair of critical deferred maintenance including replacement of boilers, electrical and steam distribution system serving campus research facilities.


September 2010 – Construction contract awarded for $3,1 million to replace the boiler systems in Boiler Plant 014.

Construction Photos

Research at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center

The Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC) is one of the largest agricultural research locations in the world. The discoveries, products and knowledge that have flowed from BARC researchers have been staggering and invaluable.

BARC scientists have discovered not one but two forms of life: the 1971 discovery of viroids and 1972 discovery of spiroplasmas. Both of these made the top ten milestones for the past 100 years of plant pest and pathogen research.

Researchers at BARC work in every facet of agriculture from lab to farm to your dining room table.

Just a few of the contributions from BARC:

Milk production is much less expensive today because of the BARC dairy herd improvement program that began keeping detailed records of milk output and other characteristics used to decide breeding choices. During the first 10 years, this led to an average yearly increase in milk production per cow from 5,354 to 6,637 pounds. Today, milk production of cows has increased more than fourfold as a result of this program.

The BARC Human Nutrition Research manages the "What We Eat in America" survey that monitors the foods consumed by the American population and estimates nutrient shortages and excesses. Recently, this research has shown that added sugars and solid fat are replacing fruits, vegetables, and milk in the diets of preschool-age children, a finding that will help researchers identify certain nutrient shortages and develop interventions to improve their diets and health.

The selective herbicide 2,4-D was developed at BARC. It remains one of the most effective and safest broadleaf herbicides available.

Portable scanners designed at BARC in Maryland are making it possible to more thoroughly inspect the 8 billion chickens processed each year at U.S. poultry plants. The devices use digital cameras, similar to those found in satellites, to capture images at different wavelengths of chickens as they speed along assembly lines. The cameras can spot impurities on about 180 chickens per minute, picking up signs of disease that pose safety risks or mar a bird’s market appeal.

BARC Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory scientists have developed effective, organic-produced grain production systems for the mid-Atlantic region. By increasing the rotation length and diversifying the crops grown in organic rotation, these new systems have reduced weed competition and increased corn yields by 30 percent while reducing soil erosion.

Researchers at BARC's Soybean Genomics and Improvement Laboratory used the recently released soybean genome to develop a system to test genes in soybeans associated with resistance to nematodes, pests costing tens of billions of dollars in crop losses each year. Already, the discovery has reduced the number of nematodes, which is increasing soybean producer profits and supporting the U.S. agricultural economy.

BARC researchers are also helping us understand climate change. A technique for preserving and photographing frozen material developed at BARC is being used to probe the anatomy of mites, the water in western snow packs, and the underpinnings of climate change. Scientists use it to examine snow crystals in western snow packs, which inform predictions about spring runoff levels. They also can study the crystalline structure of dry ice or frozen carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a significant greenhouse gas, and studying its structure could offer clues about its impact on changing climates.

A microbe discovered by BARC scientists in Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains kills some of the nation’s most destructive agricultural pests. The bacterium, Chromobacterium suttsuga, produces multiple toxins that control Colorado potato beetles, corn rootworms, gypsy moths and other pests that cost farmers almost $3 billion a year. The microbe, found in soils with decomposed hemlockleaves, can be applied to soils, plants and seeds.

Research highlights and impacts.

Project Photographs Before Construction

Repairs to be done in Beltsville Repairs in Beltsville
Repairs needed in Beltsville  


Project Photographs During Construction

During construction photo at the BARC location. During construction photo at the BARC location.

Last Modified: 7/26/2016
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