When founded in the 1870’s, the science of soil and crops were under the department of Agriculture. By 1900, the Arkansas Industrial University was reformed into what is now the University of Arkansas. During this time of expansion, the Department of Agronomy was created encompassing multiple smaller fields in the Agricultural Department, including soil and crop sciences.
As an original Morrill Land-Grant School, the University of Arkansas has always been a critical part of agricultural life throughout the state. The Hatch Act of 1887 and the Smith-Lever Act of 1913 increased the resources as well as potential influence the Land-Grant Schools would have in their states. In the 1920's, the Extension Division of the University made it possible for research stations to become organized through the University, to “accomplish a goal for extending the University of Arkansas campus to the limits of the state." Although all connected to the University in Arkansas, the official home-office was in the state’s capital, Little Rock.
After its construction in 1926, the Department of Agronomy was housed in the Agriculture Building, and the department’s soils discipline remains there to this day. The main office of the department moved into the Plant Sciences Building, adjoining the Agriculture Building, after its completion in 1977.
The construction of the Altheimer Laboratory began in the late 1950’s, eventually becoming the home of crop physiology, weed science, and forage faculty offices, as well as increased greenhouse and laboratory facilities. Today the Altheimer Lab also houses the Division’s soil testing laboratory,
As our society has progressed through environmental, technological and environmental changes, so has our curricula. While originally comprised of basic sciences and agricultural production, it has now evolved to specialized and encompassing program including courses in chemistry, physics, genetics, cell physiology, weed science, and more. Through this gradual change and academic refinement, the Department of Agronomy was officially renamed the Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences in the late 1990’s.
The Department now has over 70 faculty and staff, 140 undergraduate, and 50 graduate students, and continues to grow annually. In 2005 the Department of Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences celebrated its 100th anniversary.