UA 5.8




1.0 linear feet (1 records center box) electronic records


The Department of Plant Science offers programs in agronomy, horticulture, and landscape architecture. The collection is composed of administrative records and publications generated by the Plant Science Department, including correspondence, class notes, pamphlets, reports, posters, and programs.

Historical Note

The Plant Science Department was formed in 1969, when the Agronomy Department and the Plant Pathology Department were combined. Ten years later, entomologists joined the department when the Entomology and Zoology Department was eliminated. The history of the Plant Science Department, then, is really the history of these three departments.

Instruction in agronomy was a core part of the South Dakota State University curriculum from the outset. In 1888, the first agronomy crops were sown with the assistance of the Agricultural Experiment Station, establishing a pattern that continues to this day. In 1897, when departments were formally organized, agronomy coursework was found in the Geology and Agronomy Department. By 1902, agronomy had achieved its independence from geology and an independent department was formed. Through the years, the department strengthened and expanded, developing strong areas of research and teaching in plant breeding, crop and soil science, and seed varieties, among others. Different faculty had different interests, but the overall work of the department remained mostly unchanged until it joined with plant pathology.

The plant pathology department followed much the same pattern as the agronomy department. Through the years, research in plant pathology as conducted through the Agricultural Experiment Station and courses were taught, although the department went by a number of different names. In the earliest years, courses were taught in the Botany Department. In 1911, the name changed to Botany and Plant Pathology, where it remained until 1918. From 1918-1923, the department was Botany and Plant Diseases, from 1924-1928 Botany and Plant Pathology, 1928-1950 Botany, Plant Pathology and Bacteriology. Finally, in 1950 the department became known as Plant Pathology.

The Entomology and Zoology Department was a department from 1920-1979. Courses were taught in those subjects from 1887, however, and scientific investigations in those areas were performed at the Agricultural Experiment Station from 1888. Initially, the administration of the Entomology and Zoology Department fell under the General Science Division, but in 1925, it moved to the agriculture division. In general, instructors in these subjects were sparse, but courses continued to develop. From 1938-1963, wildlife and wildlife management classes were taught through the department, but eventually they separated into their own area. The fate of the entomology and zoology subjects was not as good, however, and in 1979, the department was dissolved. The entomologists went to the Plant Science Department, and the zoologists moved to biology.

The department was merged with the Department of Horticulture, Forestry, Landscape and Parks in the summer of 2011. The expertise of the faculty and staff span the fields of: agronomy, entomology, genetics/plant breeding, horticulture, landscape architecture, plant pathology, plant physiology, soil science, and weed science. The department offers undergraduate programs leading to a B.S. in either: Agronomy, Horticulture or Landscape Architecture; and at the graduate level, M.S. and Ph.D. training in Agronomy or Biological Science. Plant Science has a robust research program that consistently ranks at, or near, the top of departments at SDSU for research expenditures and productivity.

The department is housed in six buildings across campus. These buildings provide research and teaching laboratories, greenhouses, seed house facilities and access to the functional genomics core facility. The on-campus facilities also include the SDSU Seed Testing Laboratory, SDSU Plant Diagnostics Clinic, Seed Certification, and Foundation Seed Stocks Division, which we operate as services for the public. In addition, we conduct research at 3 research farms near campus and 4 research stations across the state. The Field Specialists are housed in 6 regional extension offices across the state. The latest addition is the new McCrory Gardens Education and Outreach Center.

Content Notes

This collection is composed of departmental records and publications of the Plant Science Department. Folders contain pamphlets, reports, posters, programs, and computer media. Also included are correspondence and a list of Agronomy personnel for 1968-69. An item of note is a book of notes for a soils class from the early 1930's, which belonged to a student by the name of Paul Brown.

SDSU Archives and Special Collections

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South Dakota State University Archives and Special Collections, Hilton M. Briggs Library, Brookings, South Dakota.


Copyright restrictions apply in different ways to different materials. Many of the documents and other historical materials in the Archives are in the public domain and may be reproduced and used in any way. There are other materials in the Archive carrying a copyright interest and must be used according to the provisions of Title 17 of the U.S. Code. The Archive issues a warning concerning copyright restrictions to every researcher who requests copies of documents. Although the copyright law is under constant redefinition in the courts, it is ultimately the responsibility of the researcher to properly use copyrighted material.