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Jan 27 2014

From the Vaults: When Kudzu Was a Rotation Crop

Kudzu a benefit?

N. C. State’s Special Collections Research Center holds reports, periodicals, and other publications featuring research conducted at N. C. State University. Many highlight advances the university and its affiliates have made in agricultural procedures and technology.

Among items in the University Archives, however, are some oddities such as “Kudzu in Rotation with Corn and Small Grain.” This 1953 report, written by faculty members of the Department of Agronomy and published by the North Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station, recommended use of kudzu for erosion control and soil fertilization for corn and small grain production. At that time the plant was cultivated for benefiting crops and forestry, but today it is considered a weed and an invasive species.

It is now known that kudzu spreads rapidly and is problematic to control. It is capable of killing plants and even trees by blanketing them and depriving them of sunlight. In the 1950s kudzu was recommended for crop improvement, but today’s agriculturalists, farmers, and weekend gardeners, with a little twenty-first century hindsight, know it has the opposite effect.

The Department of Agronomy was an early unit within N. C. State’s School of Agriculture (later renamed College of Agriculture and Life Sciences). This department was the ancestor of today’s Department of Soil Science and Department of Crop Science.  Many N. C State faculty members in the agriculture programs conducted research through the North Carolina Agriculture Experiment Station, which later became the Agricultural Research Service.

This report and numerous others are part of the University Archives.  It was digitized as part of Cultivating a Revolution, a project of the NCSU Libraries to digitize archival materials pertaining to the modernization of agriculture throughout North Carolina. The project was funded in part by a grant under the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).