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Title: ARS Timeline...144 Years of Ag Research

Chronological history by decade from
the creation of USDA in 1862 until 2000

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History of Research at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Agricultural Research Service
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Blue=USDA research accomplishment


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photo of potato plant

Potatoes are one of the world's top-four staple crops.



1860s 1870s
1880s 1890s
1900s 1910s
1920s 1930s
1940s 1950s
1960s 1970s
1980s 1990s




Of gainfully employed persons, 47.4 percent were engaged in agriculture. This was the first time that farmers were a minority.

Foot-and-mouth disease first reported in the U.S.(more)

Developed a middling purifier with a roller process for grinding to produce superior flour.

First systematized, synchronous meteorological report ever taken in the U.S. was read and transmitted by telegraph.

Illinois Warehouse Act regulated grain elevators.

Patent for cotton stripper granted.

Burbank potato produced, followed by many improved vegetables, fruits, and flowers.

Grasshoppers became a serious pest in the West.

The Washington navel orange introduced into California with trees secured from Brazil by USDA. (more)

Aberdeen-Angus bulls imported from Scotland.

Mennonites make first important introductions of wheat from Turkey into Kansas.

Pressure cooker invented; patents first granted in 1902, but not in general use until 1935.

Glidden barbed-wire patent granted.

Manufacture of oleomargarine began in the U.S.

Durra sorghum, known as Egyptian corn, introduced into California from Egypt. (more)

Mechanical refrigeration invented.

First state agricultural experiment station established at Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT.

First commercial feed mill established.

Telephone patented by Alexander Graham Bell.

Germ theory of disease verified.

Charles Darwin wrote the first complete analysis and description of hybrid vigor called Cross- and Self-Fertilization in the Vegetable Kingdom.

Desert Land Act encouraged development of irrigation in arid lands; offered land at 25 cents per acre if irrigated and cultivated for 3 years.

United States Entomological Commission established to study grasshoppers.

British traders sent seed of the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) from Brazil to Malaya; began Asian dominance of rubber market.

Milking machine invented.

Sugar beets cultivated successfully in Maine under a system of vertical integration.

An all-roller mill constructed in Philadelphia led the way to more efficient, cheaper, and cleaner milling.

First successful beet sugar factory in the U.S. built in California.

Formalized veterinary education began at Iowa State College, making it the oldest state veterinary college.

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Send comments or questions about this historical timeline to Sean Adams.