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About the Center

Tidewater AREC


The Virginia Tech Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center (Tidewater AREC) will pursue a vision of excellence through:

  • conducting and publishing unbiased research that addresses specific needs in production of economically important food and fiber crops with emphasis on profitability, production efficiency, product quality and safety, and soil, water and air quality protection;
  • conducting and publishing unbiased research that addresses specific needs in commercial swine production with emphasis on profitability, production efficiency, animal welfare, environmental protection and pork quality;
  • recruitment, training and graduation of Ph.D. and M.S. graduate students in these discipline areas so that these individuals are fully prepared to help meet a critical need for agricultural scientists in the future;
  • integration of research-based knowledge into Extension programs, publications, electronic media, diagnostic tools, recommendations and guides that effect change and generate positive impact in production of food and fiber crops and commercial swine production;
  • serving as a base for technical specialists and advisors that support Extension Agents, industry consultants, producers, commodity groups and agricultural organizations and agencies;
  • generation of extramural funding to support these mission components through writing and achieving grants that address specific as well as integrated, interdisciplinary issues;
  • and, provision of land, facilities, and equipment that allows faculty and staff to pursue and achieve these mission components while fostering an environment that promotes effective collaboration of faculty, staff and graduate students stationed at Tidewater AREC, at other ARECs, on campus and at other institutions.


The Virginia Tech Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center will be recognized for excellence in discovery, development, evaluation and extension of technical information critical to profitability and sustainability of field crop agriculture and commercial swine production in the Commonwealth of Virginia and beyond.

History of the Tidewater AREC

The Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center started with one person, 20 acres of rented land, a mule, and a tiny white frame two-room building. It has grown to 24 full time employees, 412 acres of land, and 33 buildings and other structures. This off-campus field station of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VPI & SU) began operation on April 6, 1914 near the town of Holland in southeast Virginia as The Nansemond County Experiment Station. The name was later changed to Holland Experiment Station and then Tidewater Field Station. Numerous name modifications have occurred over the years with Tidewater remaining constant as this is the principle area of Virginia served by the center. The present name, Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center, represents its dual research and extension role. As the result of a state appropriation of approximately $3,500, Mr. E. Taylor Batten, an agronomy graduate of Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute (currently VPI & SU), was hired as the first superintendent. During the early years of the center, Mr. Batten worked single-handedly or sometimes hired local labor to assist in conducting field experiments on peanut, corn, soybean, and cotton. One of the important buildings at the center that houses graduate student and technician offices, a peanut quality laboratory and scientific literature is affectionately named “Batten Hall” by the faculty and staff at the center.

Since these early days the people, equipment, methods and programs at the Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center have changed dramatically. But the underlying mission established by Mr. Batten’s vision remains the same: to enhance efficiency and profit potential in the production of food and fiber in the Commonwealth, and to do so in a manner that protects the environment and the public good. Applied science based research in production of cotton, corn, peanuts, soybeans, small grains, swine and other crops is conducted under the leadership of six agricultural scientists and a host of skilled technicians and staff. In addition faculty based at the center carry Extension specialist appointments and support Extension agents, agricultural producers and agribusinesses through educational programs, production recommendations and critical information for decision making.