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ARS Home » Office of Communications » Timeline » 1990chron

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

Chronological history by decade from the creation of USDA in 1862 until 2012

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History of Research at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Agricultural Research Service
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1860s 1870s
1880s 1890s
1900s 1910s
1920s 1930s
1940s 1950s
1960s 1970s
1980s 1990s





Oatrim fat replacer for food developed from soluble oat fiber and natural enzymes.

Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act passed.

Technique developed to grow taxol-producing cells in tissue culture.

Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act passed.

Africanized honeybees entered the U.S.

Demonstrated that genes could be infected using a commercially available inoculation device dubbed "gene gun"

Developed test to rapidly diagnose citrus blight.

With CSREES, launched MSEA (Management Systems Evaluation Area) projects to develop multi-scale farming systems for improved water quality.

With NRCS, designed criteria for soil and water conservation structures, such as vegetative waterways to protect millions of acres from runoff damage.


Rely soft white club wheat released; main club wheat cultivar in the U.S. since 1996.

Ranger Russet potato released.

Discovered first-ever homeobox—region of a gene that enables it to control other genes—in plants.

Patented new soybean inoculant--live, nitrogen-fixing bacteria--that increased soybean yield up to 2.9 bushels per acre. (more)

Shasta viburnum released.

Diana hibiscus released.

Released Nitrate leaching and Economic Analysis Package (NLEAP), field-scale computer model for predicting potential nitrate leaching


Entire sequence of one out of 16 chromosomes of a yeast identified.

Generated molecular probes to detect citrus canker disease.

SoilGardTM, the first commercial biocontrol agent for soil-borne diseases, developed in cooperation with industry.

Identified and cloned genes responsible for antibiotic production in soil bacteria responsible for take-all decline.

First sensitive and specific test for Babesia equii antibody developed.

Patented test to differentiate strains of citrus tristeza; a virus that can kill trees.(more)

Eskimo viburnum released.

Galaxy magnolia released.


First genetic map of blueberry constructed.

Developed paper from chicken feathers.

Showed that deficiency in either selenium or vitamin E can trigger a mutation in a normal benign human virus; first report of a specific nutritional deficiency permitting a nonvirulent virus to become virulent. (more)

Discovered that latex from guayule does not contain the allergens found in latex from the Brazilian rubber tree.

Potomac pear released.

Developed remote-sensing technology to measure surface soil moisture, temperature, and other landscape characteristics.


Fantesk invented; an inseparable mixture of starch and oil.

Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) method of measuring antioxidant capacity automated.

Developed method to genetically modify Brucella abortus Strain 19, to differentiate between naturally infected and vaccinated animals.

First genetic linkage maps of cattle and swine constructed.

First sensitive and specific test developed for malignant catharrhal fever in sheep.

Black emerald grapes released.


First complete genome sequence of a microorganism described.

Little Giant processing blueberry released.

Conducted extensive outdoor tests with PAM, polyacrylamide powder, showing its efficacy in preventing irrigation water from carrying away soil particles as the water flows down a furrow and leading to widespread use.

First two postharvest biofungicides registered with EPA—ASPIRE and BIO-SAVE 11—based on ARS research.

Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation completed. (more)

Valley Forge and New Harmony elm trees released; tolerant to Dutch elm disease.

Experimentally infected cattle with transmissible mink encephalopathy and scrapie agents.

Dwelley, Sanford, and Myles chickpeas released; resistant to ascochyta blight.

Four water-quality assessment models delivered to NRCS, which developed a comprehensive database/interface system. These models set the standard for resource predictions for over a decade.

Root Zone Water Quality Model (RZWQM) made publicly available. Today the model is used around the world for aiding soil and water management.



Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act established the Environmental Quality Improvement Program and other conservation programs.

Amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act passed.

Isolated and developed DNA test to identify bacterium that caused swine diarrhea.

First sensitive and specific test for anaplasmosis antibody in cattle developed.



Cloned a plant-derived gene for resistance to a plant virus, the "N" gene.

"Dolly" cloned from an udder cell of an adult sheep.

Phytoplasma discovered as the infectious cause of commercially desirable free-branching growth habit in poinsettia.

Developed technique for large-scale extraction of limonoid glucosides from citrus. (more)

Trailblazer alfalfa released.



Bacterial microbe mixture PREEMPT developed for competitive exclusion of Salmonella.

Method developed to recycle chromium-containing solid waste from leather production.

First genetically engineered vaccine for shipping fever in cattle developed.

First effective lure for German yellowjacket and golden paper wasps developed.

Discovered that dogs are a definitive host for Neospora.

First sensitive and specific test to detect Babesia caballi antibody in horses developed.

Gene-based test for Johne's disease in cattle developed.

Bluebyrd plum released.



Executive Order 13112 on Invasive Species signed. (more)

Modified live-bacterium fish vaccine approved; protects young channel catfish against enteric septicemia.

USDA helps develop P Index, a tool for guiding phosphorous management in order to reduce eutrophication.

Unique plants found for removal of toxic trace elements from contaminated soils and water, as well as for metal recovery.