The Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station

The Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station (AAES) was formally established in 1888 following passage of the Hatch Act of 1887, which provided federal funding to assist in the operation of state-based agricultural experiment stations by land grant universities. The University of Arkansas Board of Trustees jump-started the process in May 1886 by inaugurating “experiments in scientific agriculture and horticulture” on University property by the Professor of Chemistry. Thus, the AAES hit the ground running with research not only in Fayetteville, but also on rented “branch station” land in Newport, Pine Bluff, and Texarkana. By 1906, research on at least nine other “branch stations” was reported along with cooperative work with the new state-supported agricultural schools at Russellville and Monticello. 1906 also saw the AAES organize its research disciplines into departments.

The AAES established the Main Station in Fayetteville in 1919 while carrying out research in 41 of the state’s 75 counties. The system of main station and permanent branch experiment stations was authorized by the General Assembly in 1923 with funding provided in 1925. By 1927, the first three Branch Experiment Stations at Stuttgart, Hope, and Marianna were opened, and eleven more have been added over the ensuing ninety years, along with eight diagnostic centers.

A huge step forward for agricultural research in Arkansas came with the creation of the Division of Agriculture in 1959 as a separate institution within the U of A System.  Responsibility for AAES research and Cooperative Extension Service educational programs was transferred from the Fayetteville campus to the new “statewide campus” allowing for intense focus on the state’s largest industry.  With this arrangement, the spirit of the agricultural land grant mission in Arkansas of teaching, research, and extension became shared between the new Division of Agriculture and the University of Arkansas and other campuses.  For the past sixty years, there has been an intertwining in both practice and impact with many AAES research scientists holding Cooperative Extension Service appointments and serving on the teaching faculty at university campuses.