Research Centers Answer Food, Agricultural Questions ; Kidd: Talk with Experts about Planting Beds at Public Field Day July 30

The Topeka Capital-Journal, July 23, 2016 | Go to article overview

Research Centers Answer Food, Agricultural Questions ; Kidd: Talk with Experts about Planting Beds at Public Field Day July 30


Local Extension offices have been described as the go-to places when you have questions. Have you ever wondered where the agents at those offices get the answers to all the questions you ask? Good question. I'm so glad you asked.

Extension universities, including Kansas State University, began when the Morrill Acts were passed by Congress and became the law in 1862 and 1890. Under the acts, federal lands were granted to each state to develop and/or sell to raise funds to build "land-grant" colleges. In response to the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the colleges were to focus on teaching practical agriculture, science and engineering along with classical studies.

Historically, colleges were focused on abstract liberal arts, medicine, law and the ministry. Only the wealthy were able to attend Ivy League colleges. Land-grant colleges made education accessible to the average citizen.

Because farmers were unable to leave their farms for extended periods for classes, Congress and the colleges developed the Extension Service and used "county agents" to bring free education into local communities. Food and nutrition education was added to the curriculum, followed by the 4-H program for children.

Additionally, the need to research better ways of doing things came to the forefront in Washington, D.C. The colleges' focus was expanded, and research centers were established.

Kansas State University was founded in 1863 as a land-grant institution, the first in the nation, and has five formal research centers in Kansas manned by professionals. Several informal centers in the state are tended by Extension Master Gardeners.

Research in these centers, and in centers across the nation, provide answers to food and agricultural questions. The best trees, shrubs, turf, vegetables, farm crops and flowers for Kansas are determined at these centers. Numerous publications, plant lists and articles are generated from each of these sites.

The Extension offices have access to local and national Extension information, which is available to the public. Most publications are free of charge.

Here's a look at the research centers in Kansas:

- John C. Pair Horticulture Center, Haysville, south of Wichita.

The center's research emphasis is on evaluation of new varieties and production practices in food crops and ornamental plants. …

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