Approximately ten miles west of the Texas A&M University campus, just across the Brazos River, you will find the Texas A&M Farm Services Department.
Farm Services is an independent department under the direction of Alfred Nelson. The department works closely with the Soil and Crop Sciences, as well as other agriculture departments. The 1,500 acres managed by Farm Services provide a place for professors and students to conduct outdoor research.
Farm Services primary role is to provide infrastructure for the various research projects. They own the large equipment necessary to perform the primary tillage and to build the seed beds. They maintain the irrigation system to insure that water pressure is available when needed. Project coordinators have the option of purchasing items such as fertilizer, pesticide and herbicides through Farm Services.
All services are provided at a cost. Each project is billed monthly, with all funds generated being used to purchase and maintain equipment and to compensate student workers.
The current headquarters was built in 1983, consisting of the main office and three other buildings. Since then five more buildings have been added, including a maintenance shop, chemical storage facilities, tractor sheds and a small lab/storage building.
Originally, the Farm Services Department headquarters was housed in a small cinder block building on Agronomy Road. At that time the department managed 500 of the 3,200 acres of Brazos River bottom land owned by Texas A&M University.
That land was purchased from four neighboring farm families in the 1940s, with one deed signed on June 6, 1944 – D-Day. Originally, it is said to have been used to produce food for the campus commissaries. With the limited refrigeration at that time, it was necessary for the college to grow vegetables and beef to feed the cadets. The A&M Farm remained in production agriculture until 2000, at which time the administration decide to abandon the cash crops and focus on research.
At that time, an additional 1,000 acres were added to those already managed by Farm Services. With the exception of the 200 acre pecan orchard, the remaining acres were leased for several years, before being turned over to the Animal Science Department in 2005.
There are currently eighteen Soil and Crop Sciences research projects being conducted at Farm Services. These projects include cotton, sorghum and wheat breeding, weed science, soil fertility and crop physiology. Research is also being conducted in the entomology, horticulture, plant physiology and Bio/Ag engineering.
“They do research here for anything that has to do with row crops, for any department,” Nelson stated. “It is a never ending quest. We are always looking for higher yields, better quality and better methods.”