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The Good Seed Train

The North Dakota Agricultural College was born in March 1890 when the governor approved a bill calling for its establishment. The land grant college opened its doors in January of 1892 with a president, three faculty members, and 123 students. Classes were held in six rooms rented from Fargo College. The first agricultural experiment station had been established two years earlier, and it was now incorporated into the program at NDAC.

Many North Dakota farmers and ranchers were skeptical about what “college boys” at the experiment station could do for agriculture. It didn’t take long to find out. The “college boys” went right to work researching ways to address agricultural problems. Under the direction of Professor Harold Bolley, the students came up with new methods to address problems like plant diseases and irrigation.

Bolley had to find ways to get these answers out to the farmers and ranchers of North Dakota. One way was mail. North Dakotans would send their questions to Bolley -- sometimes with bug or plant samples.

But Bolley also wanted to reach out on a personal level. On this date in 1906, The NDAC Good Seed Train was getting ready to pull out of the station. The planned itinerary had the train spending an hour in each of fifteen towns over the course of two days. Farmers and ranchers could view exhibits on the train and interact with Bolley and his students. The program would focus on the selecting, grading, and testing of seed grain.

Today, the experimental station is still going strong. It consists of seven extension centers throughout the state, with the main station at NDSU. 20,000 acres are devoted to the work.

In September 2018 the Local Foods and Outdoor Spaces presentation offered tours of the NDSU Research and Demonstration Gardens, including a tractor tour of the fruit and vegetable research area. Attendees learned about disease management and using rye as a companion crop with soybeans. Keith Peltier of the State Board of Ag Research and Education says, “You can’t spend a better dollar of state money than you can on ag research.”

Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher


Hope Pioneer. “The Seed Train.” 15 March 1906. Hope ND. Page 1.

NDSU Library. “Fargo: Its History and Images.” https://library.ndsu.edu/fargo-history/?q=content/north-dakota-agricultural-college-ndsu  Accessed 2/15/2019.

Facebook. “North Dakota Ag Experiment Station.” https://www.facebook.com/NorthDakotaAgExperimentStation/  Accessed 2/15/2019.

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