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

















































































Lactase enzymes evaluated; provided basis for lactose-reduced dairy products.

Supreme Court ruled that microbes created by genetic engineering could be patented.

Term "transgenic" coined to describe mice that carried a new, recently introduced gene.

NW-63 small red bean released; most widely grown small red cultivar in the U.S.

Discovered that peroxide dissolves lignin in crop residue so that the digestive bacteria in livestock can reach the cellulose fibers.

System developed to hold, transport, and deliver broilers and turkeys from the farm to the processing plant.

Developed vacuum infusion process by removing citrus peel from fresh fruit. (more)

Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act passed.

CREAMS:A Field Scale Model for Chemicals, Runoff, and Erosion From Agricultural Management Systemspublished.(more)

Eurasian pine adelgid in Hawaii controlled using biological control. (more)

Marshall hard red spring wheat released.

Nosema locustae became the first protozoan registered as a microbial insecticide in the U.S.(more)

Foot-and-mouth disease vaccine developed; first effective subunit vaccine for any animal or human disease using gene splicing.(more)


Isolated antitumor agent sesbanimide from coffee bean seeds.

Developed method for vaccinating chicks against Marek's disease through the eggshell, demonstrating for the first time that resistance to disease could be established by that method.

Determined that locoweed poisoning, in combination with high altitudes, could cause congestive heart failure in cattle.

Discovered plasmids that could be used to breed plants with desirable traits.

Cablegation developed; an automatic surface irrigation system that uses gravity to deliver water.

Columbia root-knot nematode discovered.

Lemhi Russet released; outyields Russet Burbank.

Developed techniques for the first commercial application of nematodes for control of carpenterworm in commercial fig orchards in California.

New infectious agent, "prions," discovered; proposed as cause of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy diseases.

Genetically engineered human insulin produced.

First genetically engineered crop plant developed (tomato).

Developed the tree-banding technique used by homeowners to prevent gypsy moth caterpillars from crawling up tree trunks. (more)

Polymerase chain reaction devised; replicates large quantities of DNA from a small initial sample.

Discovered "jumping genes," or moveable genetic elements.

Lemont rice released; one of leading varieties grown in Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

Controlled alfalfa blotch-leaf miner in the eastern U.S. using biological control.

First transgenic farm animals born (sheep and pigs).

Tracheal mite found in honeybees.

Alginate gels and granules from seaweed used to encapsulate chemical or biological pesticides.

Bozoisky Russian wildrye released; dominant variety in the West.

Hycrest released; first interspecific hybrid of crested wheatgrass.

Food Security Act established Conservation Reserve Program for highly erodible lands. (more)

DNA fingerprinting invented.

Hole in Earth's ozone shield discovered over Antarctica.

Chester thornless blackberry released; predominant blackberry of its type in the world.

Discovered rubisco activase; protein responsible for action of rubisco. (more)

Discovered that chemicals produced by aquatic microorganisms, geosmin and BIV, cause off-flavors in catfish.

Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) established; the world's most comprehensive database of agriculturally important plants.(more)

Starch-encapsulation technique for pesticides developed.(more)

Federal Technology Transfer Act passed.

First genetically engineered vaccine licensed by USDA, for pseudorabies in swine.

Synthesized pheromone from the papaya fruit fly as the first environmentally safe lure for females.

Discovered hormone PTTH that controls growth and molting in gypsy moth. (more)

Discovered that pyrrolizidine alkaloids--natural chemicals found in hundreds of plants--kill livestock by causing cumulative and irreversible damage to the liver.

Isolated and characterized the structure of insect neuropeptides.

Othello pinto beans released; dominated acreage in the U.S. and Canada from 1988 to 1997.

Developed sunflower hybrids that produce oil several times higher in oleic acid than traditional sunflower oil; provided genetic material to industry to create NuSun hybrids.

Conducted studies that led to Bacillus thuringiensisregistration as the first microbial insecticide for use on stored grain.

Developed Fast Africanized Bee Identification System (FABIS) to distinguish European honeybees from Africanized honeybees.

First 100-percent soybean ink developed in four colors.(more)

Released germplasm lines of sunflower with genetic resistance to all known races of downy mildew.

Developed microinjection technique to move a whole chromosome into a single cell of another plant.

Discovered that boron is a nutritionally necessary trace mineral.(more)

Fallglo tangerine released; Sunburst and Fallglo comprise most of the early season tangerine market in Florida.(more)

Virus genes transferred to chickens to impart resistance to avian leukosis virus.

First authorized release of genetically altered bacteria outdoors.

Varroa mites found in Wisconsin.

First patent for genetically engineered animal issued.

Madsen soft white winter wheat released; first winter wheat variety in the U.S. with resistance to strawbreaker foot rot.

Discovered that lactose significantly reduced Salmonella bacteria in infected chickens.

Proved that antibiotics produced by soil bacteria responsible for take-all decline.

Developed anaplasma probe used to detect infected ticks.

Fortune plum released.

Sparkleberry holly released.

Created first relatively inexpensive and safe soil monolith collection procedure for 70+ milligram soil monoliths for lysimeters.

1890 Initiative by USDA (more)

Successfully separated living sperm into male- and female-producing batches.

Water Erosion Prediction Project model developed.(more)

Waldo trailing blackberry released; first thornless trailing blackberry.

Identified a new parasite, Neospora caninum, as a cause of birth defects in cattle and sheep.

Isolated and cloned gene that triggers production of ACC synthase; modified gene to block ethylene production and delay ripening of tomatoes.

Ambersweet released; the first orange created by hybridization and selection. (more)

Discovered the hormone that controls sex pheromone production in moths.

Bounty peach released.

Blackhawk black bean released; the first bean completely resistant to anthracnose.

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