Then and Now

Historical image of tractor in Jordan Soil Fertility plots looking toward Tyson Building. PHOTO: COURTESY OF PENN STATE LIBRARY ARCHIVES


By the time this picture was made in the 1950s the Jordan Soil Fertility Plots, laid out by Dr. W. H. Jordan in 1881, were the oldest extensive fertility plots in North America. Until 1939, there were 144 1/8-acre plots in 4 tiers of 36 plots where corn, oats, wheat, and mixed hay were studied. Results were published to help farmers in Pennsylvania and across the United States determine the best lime and fertilizer conditions for growing crops profitably. 

While those particular field experiments ended in 1957, helping agriculture stay healthy and profitable continues. The landscape has changed and the Jordan Plots are now home to the Millennium Science Complex, Eisenhower Auditorium, and the Thomas Classroom Building. But amid these changes the college remains committed to conducting research in a wide range of areas and bringing results to the people, industries, and governments so they can continue to make decisions that help ensure agriculture remains strong—today and tomorrow.