Columbia, MO

Historic Sanborn Field at the University of Missouri is associated with the discovery of medicine that helped millions

CJ Coombs
View of Sanborn Field from the adjacent Bond Life Sciences Center on the University of Missouri campus.Iwtwb8, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

In 1964, the Sanborn Field located on the campus of the University of Missouri in Columbia (MU), Missouri was named a National Historic Landmark.

Having been established in 1888, it was the first place in the United States meant to measure erosion and run-off for different types of crops and practices in agriculture. The work performed here helped to establish policies for soil conservation.

Sanborn Field is on the east side of MU's campus. This land was purchased for the campus by the state in the 1870s. It's about seven acres.

It is the oldest completely organized soil and crop experimental field in the United States. (Source.)

Brief history

Interestingly, the field was established by Dean J.W. Sanborn. His goal was to understand the significance of manure as fertilizer. He also wanted to understand crop rotation. In 1914, there was more focus on chemical fertilizers.

How do you recover exhausted soils? The study of how to manage agricultural lands is ongoing. Of more interest is the fact that in 1945, in one of the Sanborn field plots, a sample of soil brought about the discovery of Chlortetracycline which was a tetracycline that was revealed.

To help push the field of agriculture forward and provide practical answers and recommendations to Missouri farmers, Sanborn and his colleagues used the field to demonstrate the value of crop rotations and manure in grain crop production. (Source.)

The antibiotic, aureomycin, was developed from the use of growing Timothy grass on a plot. This is known to be one of the tetracyclines to be revealed in 1948. It was discovered by American plant physiologist Benjamin Minge Duggar (b. 1872, d. 1956). He was 76 when he made this discovery.

Duggar was a botany professor at the University of Missouri from 1902 to 1907. He studied at several schools. He was an acting professor of biological chemistry at Washington University Medical School. He was also the vice president of the Botanical Society of America from 1912 and 1914.

Duggar was on a quest to find organisms that could treat infections. Aureomycin could treat up to 90% of bacteria-caused infections in people. There is a historical marker in Prairieville, Alabama dedicated to him.
Benjamin Minge Duggar (b. Sept. 1, 1872, d. Sept. 10, 1956).Find-a-grave upload by Lucy and Chris.

Aureomycin, although effective in the 1980s, isn't as widely used today because a lot of bacteria strains developed a resistance to it. But in its prime, it could be taken orally and was effective against diseases that weren't responding to other antibiotics. It was effective against the Rocky Mountain spotted fever that was transmitted by a tick.

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Multi-genre writer and indie author with a BA in Eng Journalism & Creative Writing. My working career has been in law firms. Thinker, giver, and lover of life and retired early to be a writer. Born into Air Force service life, life has taken me to Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, art, reading, history, true crime, travel, and research.

Kansas City, MO

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