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About Us

Our Mission

The mission of the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station is to conduct research that addresses the economic viability, environmental sustainability, and social acceptability of activities impacting agriculture, natural resources, and consumers in Colorado.


The Morrill Act of 1862 provided for public higher education by establishing colleges in every state and territory endowed through grants of public lands – thus, land grant institutions. The passage of the Hatch Act in 1887 provided research at these institutions by authorizing a state agricultural experiment station for each state to undergird the educational mission. State agricultural experiment stations are located in every state and territory, covering all the ecological, environmental and socioeconomic regions of the nation.

The Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station, an integral part of Colorado State University, was established in 1888 as a result of the Colorado General Assembly’s having ratified during the preceding year the provisions of the Hatch Act. State and federal funds support the research program of the CAES.

Colorado Agriculture

Colorado agriculture is as varied as the state’s climate and responsive to the different environments throughout the state. The irrigated and dryland farms, orchards, ranches and feedlots of Colorado produce a diverse array of crops and livestock. These enterprises require expertise in many scientific areas to enhance profitability, protect the environment, sustain our natural resources and improve the well-being of rural Colorado and all consumers.

CAES Chronology*

1862 The Morrill Act is signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln, establishing a national system of Colleges, devoted to agriculture and the mechanic arts and partially funded by federal land grants.
1870 Territorial Governor Edward M. McCook signs legislation designating Fort Collins as the site of Colorado’s Morrill Act College.
1876 Colorado becomes a state.
1877 The State Agricultural College of Colorado, governed by a State Board of Agriculture, is formally organized; the board institutes an experimental farm at the Fort Collins campus.
1879 Classes begin at the College.
1881 The Experimental Department, headed by Ainsworth Blount, is established at the College.
1887 The Hatch Act is passed by Congress. This legislation promotes agricultural research by supporting a system of State Agricultural Experiment Stations, most of which are associated with the Morrill-Act Colleges. Soon thereafter the Association of American Agricultural Colleges and Experiment Stations, composed of representatives from each state’s land-grant College and Experiment Station, is formed.
1888 An Agricultural Experiment Station is established at Colorado’s Morrill-Act College in accordance with Hatch Act provisions. It is based at Fort Collins, but operates regional sub-stations at Rocky Ford and Del Norte. Charles L. Ingersoll, the president of the College, serves as the station’s first director.
1890 The second Morrill Act becomes law, providing additional federal funding for the land-grant Colleges and establishing institutions of this kind for black students in southern states.
1891 Walter J. Quick, professor of agriculture at the College, succeeds Charles Ingersoll as director of the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station. In addition, a sub-station is established at Table Rock, Colorado.
1892 Alston Ellis, president of the College, concurrently assumes the position of station director.
1893 The Rainbelt sub-station is established at Cheyenne Wells in Colorado’s semi-arid eastern plains region.
1896 Problems emanating from the Panic of 1893 and a related national economic depression necessitate suspension of all sub-station work in Colorado except for limited activity at Cheyenne Wells and Rocky Ford
1899 Louis G. Carpenter, head of the College’s department of Civil and Irrigation Engineering, becomes director of the Agricultural Experiment Station.
1906 Congress passes the Adams Act, providing supplemental funding to State Agricultural Experiment Stations to support “original” theoretical research; heretofore, virtually all station investigations had had a practical application (i.e., solving an actual local problem).
1910 Regional sub-station work is resumed fully at Cheyenne Wells and Rocky Ford, and subsequently expanded to new installations at Fort Lewis, Austin, and Avon.
1911 Clarence P. Gillette, head of the College’s department of Entomology and Zoology, becomes director of the Agricultural Experiment Station.
1914 Congress enacts the Smith-Lever Act, establishing a federally coordinated cooperative extension service at the Morrill-Act Colleges. This legislation formally and tangibly acknowledges the Morrill-Act College’s threefold mission of teaching, research, and extension work. Moreover, it encourages station scientists to concentrate on experimental work.
1914 The USDA, in response to an appeal by local potato growers, establishes a research station in Greeley, to investigate diseases harmful to this commodity. In 1924, the College takes charge of this facility, and cooperates with the USDA in conducting various research programs. Early in 1968 CSU assumes exclusive control and renames the facility, the Northern Colorado Research-Demonstration Center.
1916 Research is instituted near Hesperus to test the adaptability of selected crops and forest trees to high altitude conditions. Scientific investigations at what will become the San Juan Research Center subsequently includes activity at the Yellow Jacket unit near Cortez (1962) and the Arriola unit (1976). Notable research activity include development of the San Juan Select pinto bean and drylands environmental impact studies related to the Dolores River Reclamation Project and the Animas-La Plata Project.
1917 The Colorado Seed Laboratory is established by the state legislature as a component of the station’s botany section, in order to certify the purity of existing seed and to conduct related research.
1917 The United States becomes a combatant in World War I.
1917 Home Economics section is added to Agricultural Experiment Station.
1920 Agronomy farm is established at USDA Horse Breeding project site, one half mile east of main campus.
1922 The Austin branch station (known as the Austin-Rogers Mesa unit after an addition in 1961) is established to conduct deciduous tree fruit research. Centers at Fruita (1952, 1964) and at Orchard Mesa (1961), furthering this work and irrigated field crops inquiries, eventually become the Western Slope Branch Stations.
1923 A Rural Economics and Sociology section is added to the Agricultural Experiment Station.
1925 Congress passes the Purnell Act expanding Experiment Station investigations into the areas of agricultural economics and rural sociology.
1933 Emil P. Sandsten, head of the department of Horticulture, becomes director of the Agricultural Experiment Station.
1935 Congress enacts the Bankhead-Jones Act significantly expanding federal support for Experiment Stations, but making most funding contingent on matching state appropriations and varying distributions to reflect a state’s relative percentage of rural population. This law also provides for a special research fund for the USDA to use in establishing and maintaining regional agricultural laboratories.
1939 Charles L. Kick, head of the animal husbandry department, becomes director of the Agricultural Experiment Station, but dies shortly after assuming office. Isaac E. Newsom, head of the pathology department, serves as acting director.
1941 The United States enter World War II.
1943 Homer J. Henney, dean of the division of agriculture, becomes director of the Agricultural Experiment Station.
1946 Congress passes the Research and Marketing Act in part to avert problems that had afflicted the agricultural economy following World War I. In addition to encouraging marketing research projects, the new law supports cooperative regional work (with a special administrative “committee of nine” to plan and oversee agreed upon investigations) and studies pertaining to rural society.
1949 The Mountain Meadow Research Center is instituted as a cooperative undertaking involving the College and the USDA’s Soil and Water Research Division. Work is headquartered at Grand Junction until 1969 when it is moved to Gunnison. Studies involving high altitude hay production, cattle growing, and poisonous range plants receive emphasis.
1950 After helping to operate a demonstration farm since 1940, the San Luis Valley Potato Improvement Association donates this facility, located near Center, Colorado, to the College. Subsequent research includes studies to develop new potato varieties, mechanize production, and compare center pivot sprinkler irrigation with more traditional flood and furrow methods.
1951 Sherman S. Wheeler, dean of the division of agriculture, becomes director of the Agricultural Experiment Station.
1952 Eastern Colorado Branch later known as Eastern Colorado Research Center near Akron is established.
1954 The Southeastern Colorado Branch, later known as the Southeastern Colorado Research Center, is established by act of the state legislature to conduct research on soils subject to wind erosion and associated management problems. This work begins on a 2,360-acre leased site of abandoned crop land at Springfield, Colorado. In 1966, an additional state-supported site (Plainsman Research Center) was established at Walsh, mainly to investigate the management of crops, soils, and water under pump irrigation in a hitherto drylands region.
1955 Congress passes the amended Hatch Act which consolidates the law of 1887 and all subsequent supplementary legislation.
1959 Agronomy and Animal Sciences begin move to Rigden Farm.
1962 Congress passes the McIntire-Stennis Forestry Research Act to encourage investigations involving forest regeneration and management.
1965 Congress orders that a part of Hatch appropriations be earmarked for studying ways to reduce the threat of pesticides to the environment (IR-4 Program: National Program of Clearances of Pesticides for Minor and Specialty Uses).
1966 Rue Jensen of the department of Bacteriology and Pathology becomes director of the Agricultural Experiment Station.
1969 Donald F. Hervey of the department of Range Science becomes director of the Agricultural Experiment Station.
1972 John Patrick Jordan, associate dean of the College of Natural Sciences and professor of Biochemistry, becomes director of the Agricultural Experiment Station.
1972 Congress passes the Rural Development Act “to consolidate federal loan, industrial assistance, health facilities, and waste management programs aimed at upgrading services in rural areas.” Essentially, stations are expected to find ways “of making rural areas more attractive to residents and businesses”.
1977 Congress passes the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Teaching Policy Act (NARETPA), which continues and increases federal support for existing research, extension, and teaching work at Morrill-Act institutions along with special research emphasis involving alternate energy sources, and poultry and livestock investigations. This measure also seeks to identify a common core of research initiatives and improve coordination among various agencies involved in creating and disseminating agricultural knowledge.
1977 President Jimmy Carter’s administration presents a “new agenda” for agriculture, emphasizing centralized administration of all federal programs, the small family farm, organic farming, nutrition studies, natural resource conservation, international agricultural projects, and farm labor. The traditional cornerstone of agricultural research, the augmentation of production efficiency, is accorded relatively less attention.
1981 Congress amends NARETPA of 1977 renewing programs of the original law for four years, but placing productivity maintenance and enhancement at the top of the list of “major needs and challenges” for the future. Many “new agenda” programs receive continued support, however.
1983 Robert D. Heil of the Agronomy department becomes director of the Agricultural Experiment Station.
1985 Congress amends NARETPA of 1977 providing a four-year renewal of the original law and emphasizing productivity (in response to the Food Security Act of 1985) and biotechnology studies.
1987 In response to encroaching urbanization of Fort Collins, a new 493-acre North Agricultural Campus (approximately eight miles northeast of CSU) is proposed for legislative funding.
1991 Helen F. McHugh is appointed Interim Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station.
1992 Charles W. Laughlin becomes director of the Agricultural Experiment Station.
1993 The Agricultural Research, Development, and Education Center (ARDEC)–formerly North Agricultural Campus–opens as a multidisciplinary agricultural center for instruction, research and outreach.
1994 Responsibility for off-campus research centers was transferred from the Departments of Soil and Crop Sciences, Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, and Range Sciences to the AES Director’s Office.
1996 The Southeastern Colorado Research Center at Springfield is closed.
1997 Lee E. Sommers, head of the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, becomes director of the Agricultural Experiment Station.
1998 Fruita, Orchard Mesa, and Rogers Mesa combined to form Western Colorado Research Center.
1999 Funding and construction of new ARDEC Animal Science teaching and research center opens.
2003 Mountain Meadow Research Center at Gunnison is closed.
2006 The Agricultural Experiment Station is reorganized and becomes a unit within the College of Agricultural Sciences
2008 The Plant Science and Animal Science units at ARDEC are integrated under AES management.
2010 The San Juan Basin Research Center at Hesperus is closed.
2011 The Western Colorado Research Center-Rogers Mesa at Hotchkiss is closed.
2012 The Horticulture Field Research Center is integrated into ARDEC under AES management.
2013 Craig Beyrouty becomes director, and Jeffrey Steiner becomes deputy director of the Agricultural Experiment Station.
2015 Ajay Menon becomes director; and Thomas Holtzer, head of the Department of Bioagricultural Science and Pest Management, becomes interim deputy director of the Agricultural Experiment Station.
2016 Eugene Kelly, head of the Department of Soil and Crop Science, becomes deputy director of the Agricultural Experiment Station and Associate Dean for Extension.
2017 Rogers Mesa facility reopens as part of the Western Colorado Research Center.
2019 The CSU Western Colorado Campus in Orchard Mesa and the CSU Arkansas Valley Campus in Rocky Ford open on existing university sites. The Western Colorado Campus, near Grand Junction, features two new facilities: a state-of-the-art branch of CSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories, and a second building housing the regional CSU Office of Engagement, CSU Extension, and Colorado State Forest Service, joining Agricultural Experiment Station staff already working there. The Arkansas Valley Campus in Rocky Ford is home to the southeastern Colorado branch of CSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories. The campus additionally co-locates CSU Extension offices for both Otero County and the southeastern Colorado region.
2020 James Pritchett becomes director of the Agricultural Experiment Station and dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences.


*compiled by James E. Hansen II, Department of History

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