With the most recent information regarding COVID-19, the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum and State Archives are closed to the public until further notice. Interpretive centers/buildings at state historic sites will open on May 23 with the exception of the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historic Site opening on June 15. Learn more

SHSND Home Archives State Agencies Agriculture Research Extension Centers

OCLC WorldCat Logo

Digital Horizons

2019-2021 Blue Book Cover

Federal Depository Library Program

Chronicling America

Archives - State Agencies - Agriculture Research Extension Centers

[Authorized:  NDCC Chapter 4-05]

The Agricultural Experiment Station was established in 1890 (S. L. 1890, Ch.160) at the North Dakota Agricultural College (renamed North Dakota State University). The purpose was to conduct research over a wide range of agricultural topics, including production transportation, marketing of agricultural products, development of improved seed strains, breeding of livestock and poultry, conservation and use of soil and water resources, farm economics, and plant and animal diseases. The Agricultural Experiment Station consisted of nine branch stations (or substations) located throughout the state with the Main Station located on the campus of North Dakota State University. It was administered jointly by the director who is also Dean of the College Agriculture and the State Board of Higher Education. Many of the research projects conducted by the Agricultural Experiment Station were coordinated with agricultural experiment stations in other states and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

After creation of the Main Agricultural Experiment Station in Fargo in 1890, branch stations were authorized, each with an area of research specialization. The irrigation station established in 1893 in Edgeley is the only one to close (1969). Others include an agriculture and grass experiment station in Dickinson, 1905; an irrigation and dry farming station at Williston, 1907; a grass experiment station at Langdon, 1907; an agricultural experiment station in Mandan, 1909; a sheep operation in Hettinger, 1909; the North Central Experiment Station at Minot, 1945; the Agronomy Seed Farm near Casselton, 1949; the Carrington Irrigation Branch Station, 1957; and the Central Grassland Research Station near Streeter, 1979. The total acreage of the nine branch stations and the Main Station compromised approximately 17,136 acres. Property of all of the branch stations except those in Carrington and Streeter was donated to the state by local communities. 

In 1926 legislation allowed the North Dakota Commissioner of Agriculture to authorize and establish Mandan as a dairy and livestock station in connection with the USDA Great Plains Experiment Station (Federal Law 1926, Ch.769). Developed on the grounds of the State Reform School (Youth Correctional Center) it operated in association with the NDSU but under the direction of the State Board of Higher Education. 

In 1949 the Agronomy Farm at Casselton was established to produce foundation seed and cooperate in research efforts with the Experiment Station scientists at the NDSU station. The North Dakota Crop Improvement Association contributed funds for this effort. Money for the Agronomy Farm came from the sale of certified seed.

In 1957 the Carrington branch station opened and focused on traditional agricultural enterprises and irrigation studies. Later it expanded to bison nutrition and feedlot management. 

In 1979 (S. L. 1977, Ch. 49) the Streeter Central Grassland Research Extension Center started with the objective of increasing the range-carrying capacity to native ranges. Called the Missouri Coteau Region of North Dakota, the station is bordered by the Missouri and James Rivers.

In 1981 the Agricultural Experiment Station sought substation status for research efforts on unique land reclamation problems caused by oil or coal exploration, mining, or production. In 1983 the Land Research Reclamation Research Center opened, supported by energy impact funds and headquartered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Northern Great Plains Station near Mandan.  It closed in 1995 (S. L. 1995, Ch. 54).

In 1989, the Legislature defined more clearly the name “Agricultural Experiment Station” (S. L. 1989, Ch. 34). The Main Station at North Dakota State University served as the administration center for all research conducted by the Main Station and the branch stations. The branch stations were renamed Research Extension Centers (S. L. 1989, Ch. 34). The focal point of the centers was productivity of agricultural products, conservation, preservation, sustaining agriculture, technology, and soil research. Each center conducts research specific to their geographic location. 

In 1997 (S. L. 1997, Ch. 50) the Legislature created the State Board of Agriculture to oversee finances, produce annual reports, disseminate information, and craft policies. The Board consisted of fifteen members including the NDSU President, the Vice President of Agricultural Affairs, the administrator of the Agricultural Experiment Station, five members appointed by the Ag Coalition, five appointees from the Extension Services multi-county program units, two representatives of the Research Extension Centers, and two ex-officio non-voting members.

The 2005 Legislature (S. L. 2005, Ch. 59) renamed and changed the composition of the Board.  Known as the State Board of Agriculture Research and Education, the Board functioned within the policies of the State Board of Higher Education and was responsible for budgeting and policy making associated with the Agriculture Experiment Station and the NDSU Extension Service.   Thirteen voting and four ex-officio non-voting members serve the Board. Voting members include the NDSU President or his designee, five chosen by the Ag Coalition, five appointed by the Extension Services multi-county program unit, and one legislator from each political party.  The four ex-officio non-voting members include the NDSU Vice President of Agricultural Affairs, the Agricultural Experiment Station administrator, the Commissioner of Agriculture, and the NDSU Extension Service director (S. L. 2005, Ch. 59) [NDCC 4-05.1-16 and NDCC 4-05.1-19].

Funding for the Research Centers comes from state appropriations and sale of seeds and other agricultural projects generated by the centers and deposited into an agricultural research fund. (S. L. 1997, Ch. 50 and S. L. 1999, Ch. 21). In 2001 the law expanded the use of the research fund for administrative expenses (S. L. 2001, Ch.58).

The Agricultural Experiment Station and Research Centers, as part of NDSU’s College of Agriculture, fall under the jurisdiction of the State Board of Higher Education. Through an integrated and coordinated research program, the Agricultural Experiment Station acquires and provides information on crops, ranching, marketing, transportation, conservation of soil and water resources, and farm economics. Reflecting environmental differences across the state, the Centers study their impact on crop selection and performance. Results affect contemporary farming and ranching practices.


1890       Agriculture Experiment Station established at the North Dakota Agricultural College (NDAC) in Fargo and administered by the Dean of Agriculture at NDAC, and the State Board of Higher Education.

1891       Agricultural Experiment Station is located on campus.

1893       First substation (branch) becomes operational at Edgeley. Citizens donate a quarter-section of land.

1905       Dickinson substation established by Legislature to conduct research in the production of beef cattle and swine, and share research about rangeland and adapted species.

1907       The Legislature (S. L.1907, Ch.23) approved of establishing demonstrations farms at 24 locations throughout the state. They were discontinued in 1923 (S. L. 1923, Ch. 5). 

1907       Langdon substation was established (S. L. 1907, Ch.120).

1907       Williston substation established S. L. 1907, Ch.122) to give emphasis to irrigation and dry farming.

1909       Hettinger substation established to develop technology relevant to sheep production.

1909       Legislature approved substation at Harvey. It was vetoed because appropriation exceeds revenue (S. L. 1909, Ch.111).

1909       Agricultural Experiment substation at Mandan approved by the Legislature. It also was vetoed because the appropriation exceeded revenue of state (S. L. 1909, Ch. 112).

1912       Great Northern Plains Experiment farm was formed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The land adjoins the State Reform School. 

1926       North Dakota Commissioner of Agriculture is authorized to establish a dairy and livestock experiment farm in connection with the USDA Great Northern Plains Experiment farm (Federal Law 1926, Ch. 769).

1939       Substation at Hettinger closes.(S. L. 1939, Ch.185).

1944-1945       Substations at Hettinger, Langdon, Edgeley re-established (S. L. 1945, Ch. 41).

1944-1945       Dickinson substation expands (S. L. 1944-1945, Ch. 44).

1945       North Central Agricultural Experiment Station established near Minot (S. L. 1945, Ch. 48) focuses on crop production.

1949       Agronomy Seed Farm (Casselton Seed Increase Farm) at Casselton established by a fund drive sponsored by North Dakota Crop Improvement Association.

1957       Carrington Irrigation Branch Station opens.

1960       North Dakota Agricultural College renamed North Dakota State University.

1969       Substation at Edgeley closed.

1979       Central Grassland Experiment Station with headquarters at Streeter is established. 

1981       The Agricultural Experiment Station sought substation status for research efforts on unique land reclamation problems caused by oil or coal exploration, mining, or production.

1983       The Land Reclamation Research Center opens in Mandan supported by energy impact funds.

1989       Agricultural Experiment Station substations (branches) designated as Research Extension Centers, and Superintendents are called Center Directors (S. L. 1989,  

1997       Agricultural research fund established (S. L. 1999, Ch. 21).

1995       Land Reclamation Research Center in Mandan closes.

2001       Board of Agriculture and Education may use research fund for administrative expenses (S. L. 2001, Ch.58).

2009       The State Legislature appropriated funds to defray expenses for the Main Research Center, Branch Research Centers, Northern Crop Institute, Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute, and the Agronomy Seed Farm (S. L. 2009, Ch. 48).
2011       An amendment to the Code concerned the Northern Crop Council and a provision for contingency funding.  Additionally appropriations were established for the Main Research Center, Branch Research Centers, the Agronomy Seed Farm, Northern Crop Institute, and the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute  (S. L. 2011, Ch. 19).

2013       Appropriated funds were included to defray the expenses of the Main Research Center, Branch Research Centers, Northern Crop Institute, Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute, and the Agronomy Seed Farm.  Funding was also provided for a State Water Commission study and a Legislative Management report. Sections were amended concerning the duties of the State Board of Agricultural Research and Education (S. L. 2013, Ch. 51) and authorization was given for the conveyance of real property owned by the State for purpose of the Branch Centers located in Ward and Williams counties (S. L. 2013, Ch. 67).


31193    Administrative Files, 1938-1980
31194   Reports and Studies, 1931-1970
31195   Regional Cooperative Project Files, 1951-1973
31201   Closed Federal Grant Files, 1938-1978
31202    Board of Higher Education and NDSU President Files, 1940-1970
31203   Legislative Files, 1957-1967, 1977
31204   Wheat Seed Research File, 1961-1970
31205 North Dakota Agricultural College. College of Agriculture Administrative Files
31206   U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative State Research Service Files, 1963-1973
31207   North Central Agricultural Experiment Station Director’s Association Files, 1941-1970
31208    Agriculture Experiment Branch Station Files, 1940-1980


Gray, David P. Guide to North Dakota State Archives, 1985.
North Dakota Century Code 4-05.1 to 4-05.1-22.
North Dakota Secretary of State Blue Book; 2001-2003, pages 572-573 2009-2011.
North Dakota Session Laws.
Research Center Websites

612 East Boulevard Ave.
Bismarck, North Dakota 58505
Get Directions

State Museum and Store: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. M-F; Sat. & Sun. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
We are closed New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.
We are open 8 a.m.-noon on Christmas Eve.
State Archives: 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. M-F, except state holidays; 2nd Sat. of each month, 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
State Historical Society offices: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. M-F, except state holidays.

Contact Us:
phone: 701.328.2666
email: history@nd.gov

Social Media:
See all social media accounts