UIHistories Project: A History of the University of Illinois by Kalev Leetaru
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Morrow Plots

The Morrow Plots are the oldest continually used experimental agricultural fields in the United States and also the first soil experimental plots by a United States college. They are also the second oldest in the world, second only to the Rothamsted Field, founded in 1843 in England. [1] They were founded in 1876 by Manley Miles, a professor in agriculture, and George Morrow, the first dean of agriculture at the University. The 5 acres were originally divided into acre plots by Miles, while Morrow eventually converted the fields to 1/20 acre plots, following the lead of the British. [2] Only 3 of the 10 original plots survive, with the observatory claiming 2 plots in 1895 and five others being given back as grassy areas in 1903. [3] Little has changed since 1903 [4] and over almost 150 years of use, the plots have provided invaluable data on the effects of crop rotation, natural soil nutrient depletion, and effects of various man-made and natural fertilizers on crop yield.

The remnants of the fields, now located at Gregory Dr. at Matthews Ave. in Urbana, were designated a National Historic Landmark on May 23, 1968. [5] The fields are still actively used, and "corn samples are taken to measure yield each year. A small sample of corn from each plot is saved for future analysis. The remaining corn is brought out to the South Farm and stored in our grain bins until it is marketed". [6]

Although popularly credited with forcing the Undergraduate Library to be built underground in 1969, in fact, the Campus Master Plan, which required a large open plaza on that end of campus, was an equally deterministic factor. In fact, at the 1969 dedication proceedings for the Library, the need to "maintain the open appearance of the mall" was cited as a primary reason for the decision to build underground. [7]




[1] < http://agronomyday.cropsci.uiuc.edu/2001/morrow-plots/>
[2] Campus Landmarks Brochure
[3] < http://agronomyday.cropsci.uiuc.edu/2001/morrow-plots/>
[4] < http://agronomyday.cropsci.uiuc.edu/2001/morrow-plots/>
[5] <
http://tps.cr.nps.gov/nhl/detail.cfm?ResourceId=781&ResourceType=Site>
[6] < http://web.library.uiuc.edu/ugl/qb/qbfull.asp?qno=10318&num=Question+4+of+4+that+match+search+criteria:>
[7] University of Illinois Archives, Building and Statue Dedication Programs: RS 2/0/808
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