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Jan 31 2013

Agricultural Research Stations, Then and Now

Contributed by Kristi Krueger.

Field days were regular events that allowed interested parties to tour the research being done at the research stations.

There are currently 18 North Carolina Agricultural Research Stations.  Back in 1955, there were 16.  Why so many?  Promotional pamphlets for stations from 1959 provide some explanation. This one for the Piedmont Research Station notes that in order to advise farmers across North Carolina, research has to be conducted in different spots to account for the state’s diverse geography.

Piedmont Research Station brochure

It’s interesting to compare the list of stations now and then, and think about how they have changed. For instance, the 1959 pamphlet on the Sandhills Research Station focuses on work with peaches, with a mention of apples and grapes.  The current Sandhills Research Station website still lists an emphasis on peaches, but also describes research with turfgrass, ornamental plants, field crops, and a variety of berries.

Part of letter informing women that shorts are fine for the field day!

Glancing through a folder of correspondence on the Research Stations from 1954-1960, one learns a little about their community. The superintendents of all the research stations convened for periodic meetings.  A 1959 memo from then Director of the Test Farms Division, Cecil Thomas, relates some of the details for a meeting that was to take place over several days in August.  At this meeting, the attendees were invited to bring spouses and children.  Good news on the second page for ladies.  “The management says the wearing of shorts by the women is permissable.”

Tidewater Research Station Field Day

If you’d like to read more about the NC Agricultural Research Stations, many more documents from the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering are available here as part of the Cultivating a Revolution Digitization Project.