Historical Highlights

A few of the highlights in Agronomy over the years.

Professor Holden establishes corn "gospel trains".Agricultural climatology, the first program in the nation is established.Agronomy Hall is built.1951 agronomy classEast addition to Agronomy Hall is built.

1862 – The Morril Act is signed by President Abraham Lincoln endowing Federal lands to establish a college of agricultural and mechanical arts in each state. On September 11, Iowa Legislature accepts the provisions of the Act, making Iowa the first state to do so.

1887 – The Hatch Act provides for the establishment of agricultural experiment stations and land-grant colleges.

1902 – Agronomy is taught for the first time

1903 – Professor and chair Perry Holden hosts a Farmer’s Institute at Hull considered to be the beginning of Extension. Later he establishes demonstration farms, club work for youth (which becomes 4-H) and forms the corn “gospel trains” that travel throughout the state  (photo)

1905 – First comprehensive report on Iowa soils is issued, emphasizing that different soil require different farming methods.

1907 – The first international student to receive a degree from ISU is in Agronomy

1912 – Agronomists set up the first long-term experimental plots south of Ames

1914 – The Agronomy Seed Laboratory is created

1922 – The corn breeding program begins

1933 – Henry A. Wallace (a 1910 graduate) is instrumental in the development of hybrid corn. He serves as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture until 1940 and is elected vice president of the U.S. with president Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941.

1943 – The first student-managed farm in the nation opens. The Ag450 Farm provides hands-on learning for students today

1945 – Agricultural climatology research, believed to be the first research program in the nation, is established

1948 – The North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station opens to preserve and distribute plant seeds gathered throughout the world.

1952 – Agronomy Hall was built

1956 – the Experiment Station’s Corn Insects Laboratory releases the first corn variety resistant to the European corn borer

1964 – Agronomy beings using audio-visual equipment for some course instruction.

1965 – Agronomy organizes the plant breeding symposium, attracting agronomy specialists from around the word.

1979 – the nation’s first extension climatologist is appointed in the Agronomy department

1982 – The east addition to Agronomy Hall is built

1991 – Walt Fehr (Agronomy) and Earl Hammond (food scientist) develop a soybean low in saturated fat that is recognized as one of the op 100 innovations in 1991.

1992 – Iowa State hosts the first International Crop Science Congress

1996 – the Student run organic farm opens along with the Plant Transformation Facility, which is the first public facility that inserts genes into the genetic material of corn and soybeans

1997 – the first organic crop specialist is hired at a land-grant university

1998 – the first online Master’s in Agronomy degree is offered

1999 – The department receives an endowment of $80 million, the largest private gift in Iowa State history

2001 – the first sustainable agriculture graduate degree program is established at a land-grant university

2006 – Agronomy faculty study alternative crops for fuel production