Research has been a major part of the Texas A&M mission since 1887, when the Hatch Act provided federal funds to the land-grant colleges to create agriculture experiment stations. Though nearly 90% supported by the state, there is still funding coming from federal sources to support research.
When the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas was first founded, the school did not offer any agriculture classes. Like many of the land-grant colleges throughout the country, A&M was struggling to maintain enrollment. The agriculture colleges were criticized for not giving the students the training they needed to return to their family farm. Many graduates were not returning to the farm at all.
Farmers had little incentive to adopt the new, intensive farming methods taught by the A&M, since there was plenty of farm land and no solid research behind those methods. The Hatch Act of 1887 created the Texas Agriculture Experiment Stations to provide that research.
In 2008, the name was changed to Texas AgriLife Research. Dr. Elsa Murano, at that time President of Texas A&M, felt the new name better reflected the agency message “Agriculture is Life”, while stressing that the work being done was research, rather than just experiments.
In 2012, at the recommendation of Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp, the “A&M” was added to Texas AgriLife’s name to present a direct association between the agency and the university.
Texas A&M AgriLife Research is today the state’s premier research and technology development agency in agricultures, natural resources and life science. Research is conducted on all the A&M System campuses as well as at AgriLife’s fourteen research and extension centers. More than 500 projects are conducted each year system-wide.
Within the Soil and Crop Sciences Department, faculty research includes projects in plant genetics and breeding, bio-energy, turf ecology, ecosystems, molecular and environmental plant science, water management and hydrology, water uses and quality, and food science and technology.