Agricultural Experiment Station
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Agricultural Experiment Station
a scientific research institution that conducts experiments under conditions close to production conditions in order to develop scientifically sound methods of raising agricultural crops and livestock on farms in a given region.
The first agricultural experiment stations appeared in 1835 in Great Britain (the Rothamsted Experimental Station founded by J. B. Lawes) and France (Pechelbronn Station founded by J. B. Boussingault). In 1852 an experiment station was founded in Möckern, Germany (near Leipzig). The first agricultural experiment station in Russia, the Bogodukhovo Station in Orel Province, was established by the Free Economic Society in 1886 on the country estate of I. N. Tolstoi. Its program of activity was worked out by a special commission, whose members were A. V. Sovetov, V. V. Dokuchaev, A. I. Voeikov, P. F. Barakov, and F. N. Korolev. The station’s activities included studying soil and meteorological conditions, conducting field experiments with fertilizer and soil tillage, and testing farm machinery. Also in 1886 the Soteshinskaia (near the Novo-Aleksandriia Institute of Agriculture and Forestry) and the Nemerchenskaia (in Podol’sk Province) experiment stations were established with private capital. In 1888 the Zapol’e Experiment Station (in Luzhskii District, St. Petersburg Province) was organized; in 1895 it was placed under the jurisdiction of the Department of Land Cultivation and, therefore, is considered the first state agricultural experiment station in Russia.
In 1913 there were 44 experiment stations in Russia. A number of them, such as the Shatilovi, Bezenchuk, Viatka, Saratov, and Kharkov stations, played a major role in the development of the agricultural sciences and in the dissemination of the scientific principles of land cultivation and livestock raising in the country. Great contributions to the development of experimental work were made by such scientists as D. I. Mendeleev, A. N. Engel’gardt, K. A. Timiriazev, V. V. Viner, P. A. Kostychev, V. G. Rotmistrov, B. N. Rozhdestvenskii, P. N. Konstantinov, D. N. Prianishnikov, V. R. Vil’iams, and A. G. Doiarenko.
After the Great October Socialist Revolution, the further development of scientific research institutions, including agricultural experiment stations, was planned. In 1974 there were 432 stations. There are three types: sectorial, multisectorial, and experimental breeding. The sectorial experiment stations deal with livestock raising or land cultivation. They are usually managed by all-Union or regional sectorial institutes (245 stations) or by higher educational institutions (25 stations). Sixty-eight sectorial stations are independent.
The multisectorial experiment stations are represented for the most part by state oblast and krai experiment stations that serve the sovkhozes, kolkhozes, and other agricultural enterprises of a given oblast or krai. There are 87 such stations. In oblasts with all-Union or regional institutes the functions of the oblast stations are assigned to the institutes. The role of oblast experiment stations includes the scientific substantiation of the principal directions of development and specialization of the oblast’s agricultural production. The oblast stations recommend crop rotations, develop comprehensive mechanized procedures for the manufacture of plant and animal products, and work out the economic problems of agriculture in the oblast. The oblast stations expand on the research results of institutes and sectorial stations by applying them under local conditions. They are managed by oblast administrations of agriculture. The oblast stations make known the latest scientific advances and introduce them into production.
There are seven experimental breeding stations in the USSR. Their role is to develop new crop varieties.
Another type of agricultural experiment station is the machine-testing station, which tests tractors and other farm machinery and gives them state evaluations. Such stations are managed by the Soiuzsel’khoztekhnika Association.
Agricultural experiment stations consist of sectorial and functional divisions and laboratories. They have at their disposal experimental farms for conducting experiments and demonstrating progressive methods of production management. They also may use test sites at sovkhozes and kolkhozes.
The research conducted at agricultural experiment stations consists primarily of field experiments, although laboratory investigations are also pursued. Production experiments, which are conducted at experimental farms and at sovkhozes and kolkhozes to check and expand on research results, play a major role in the work of an experiment station. Such experiments represent the first stage for the introduction into production of a new procedure or a new variety of plant or animal.
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N. I. VOLODARSKII