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125 years of agricultural progress

125 years of agricultural progress
Since 1889, the Agricultural Experiment Station has served Oregon and beyond

Agriculture is a landscape, an industry, a way of life, and a measure of civilization. Agricultural research keeps these things—the land, the people, the industries—healthy and productive. In Oregon, agricultural research spans the state from the Pacific coast to the intermountain West. It helps fuel the state’s $5.4 billion agricultural industry, helps feed the world’s 7 billion people, and helps conserve the world’s marine and land resources. It’s a big job.

On Feb. 25, 1889, legislation was signed that established the Agricultural Experiment Station (AES) at what would become Oregon State University. Research began in the rich Willamette Valley and grew, in time, to address problems specific to all kinds of agriculture in both urban and rural settings, and to embrace the natural resource base from 11 branch stations across the state.

In this issue of OAP, we explore contributions and discoveries made by each of the branch stations; in the Summer 2014 OAP, we’ll look at some of the important research programs affiliated with AES. The timeline tracks some of the milestones of agricultural research in Oregon.

1. OSU Seafood Laboratory is located on the Astoria waterfront, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Columbia River. It is part of the Coastal Oregon Agricultural Research Center. AES researchers in Astoria focus on seafood-related research, incorporating improved quality, seafood safety, and value-added products. The worldwide Surimi School is also headquartered here.

2. Food Innovation Center is located in the heart of the Pearl District in downtown Portland, where AES researchers work with food producers, processors, marketers, and entrepreneurs to advance Northwest foods. Research and outreach includes product and process development, packaging engineering, and consumer sensory testing.

3. North Willamette Research and Extension Center is located in the heart of one of the most productive agricultural regions in the state, and in one of the most populous. AES and Extension faculty serve seven counties from their Aurora location, focusing on the region's most important crop systems: nurseries and greenhouses, fresh vegetables and specialty seed crops, berries, Christmas trees, and small commercial farms. In addition, they conduct the state's only IR-4 Pesticide Registration program working with agricultural crops throughout Oregon.

4. Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station – the first marine experiment station in the nation – is located at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, and at OSU’s Seafood Laboratory in Astoria. AES researchers in Newport focus on marine fisheries management, resource dynamics, ecology, economics, genetics, marketing, and sustainability, as well as on aquaculture, cetacean conservation, and pinniped ecology. Their collaborators include government agencies, the fishing and seafood industry, and local communities.

5. Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center serves Jackson County and the Rogue Valley with an interdisciplinary team of research and Extension scientists. Their expertise covers a wide range of topics, including food, nutrition, healthy aging, natural resources, commercial tree fruits, and winegrape production.

6. Klamath Basin Research & Extension Center, located in Klamath Falls, is a trusted resource for research and education working cooperatively with the communities of Klamath County. Research and Extension ranges from agricultural production and alternative crops to healthy people and communities.

7. Central Oregon Agricultural Research Center is located in Madras, Oregon (Jefferson County). This puts the facility at the center of 60,000 acres of irrigated crop land and in the center of central Oregon seed production. High value, specialty crops provide the core of this progressive agricultural community.

8. Mid-Columbia Agricultural Research and Extension Center, located in Hood River, combines research and Extension for the economic, social, and environmental benefit of the mid-Columbia region and the state. AES scientists at MCAREC specialize in research important to pear, cherry, and apple growers, including application of Integrated Pest Management strategies.

9. Columbia Basin Agricultural Research Center (Sherman) has research facilities in Pendleton (Umatilla County) and in Moro (Sherman County). Scientists at both locations specialize in research and extension work important to the production of field crops on 2 million acres in north-central and northeastern Oregon, particularly the production of wheat and rotational crops such as barley, legumes, and canola.

10. Columbia Basin Agricultural Research Center (Umatilla) has research facilities in Pendleton (Umatilla County) and in Moro (Sherman County). Scientists at both locations specialize in research and extension work important to the production of field crops on 2 million acres in north-central and northeastern Oregon, particularly the production of wheat and rotational crops such as barley, legumes, and canola.

11. Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center serves nearly 500,000 acres of irrigated agriculture in Oregon and Washington's Columbia Basin. Research at HAREC emphasizes identification of new crops and production practices, and plant breeding and varietal evaluation, including nutritional contents, integrated pest management of insects and insect transmitted diseases, plant disease control, and environmental issues. In addition, an emphasis on stream ecology investigates aspects related to salmon.

12. Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center (Burns) has research facilities in Union and in Burns, both part of cooperative research with USDA-Agricultural Research Service. Both sites focus on rangeland ecology and restoration of wildlands, environmentally compatible livestock systems, and forage crops. The research program integrates research about beef cattle, rangeland, watersheds, and wildlife in two distinct ecoregions: the sagebrush-steppe of the Great Basin (at the Burns site) and inland coniferous forests (at the Union site).

13. Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center (Union) has research facilities in Union and in Burns, both part of cooperative research with USDA-Agricultural Research Service. Both sites focus on rangeland ecology and restoration of wildlands, environmentally compatible livestock systems, and forage crops. The research program integrates research about beef cattle, rangeland, watersheds, and wildlife in two distinct ecoregions: the sagebrush-steppe of the Great Basin (at the Burns site) and inland coniferous forests (at the Union site).

14. Malheur Experiment Station is located on 117 acres of row-crop land between Ontario, Vale, and Nyssa. Local farmers asked Oregon State College to establish an experiment station in Malheur County in 1942. Since then, AES researchers have focused on row crops, small grains, alfalfa, and native plants. Special emphasis is on issues associated with onions, sugar beets, and potatoes, major crops in the region.