The Palmer Research Laboratory of the Alaska Agricultural & Forestry Experiment Station is to be renamed "Kerttula Hall" in honor of Senator Jay Kerttula on Friday, August 29, 4 pm, to celebrate agricultural research in Alaska and the efforts on its behalf by our state's longest-serving legislator.
The lab, constructed in the early 1980s, has served as a resource for researchers, farmers, dairy owners, ranchers, miners, the petroleum industry, and educators. It has provided analyses of soil samples to guide farmers in fertilizing their crops, and of forage samples to assist animal producers in their feed and nutrition regimens. In cooperation with the Alaska Division of Agriculture’s Plant Materials Center, the lab is used to analyze seeds and plant materials for market. Research and production in agriculture and natural resources have benefited from the work performed at the lab: potato and vegetable production; hay, forage, and grain production; beef and dairy cattle genetics and diets; and work on revegetation for the trans-Alaska pipeline, Prudhoe Bay oilfields, and Alaska mines.
Main desk, with entrance to lab off-photo at left. Phyllis Craig is at right. On the wall hangs the original framed artist's rendition of the then-proposed lab. Photo by Norman Harris.
The laboratory also supports new work in biofuels using Alaska woody and crop biomass. It is shared with University of Alaska and federal and state agency scientists working in animal biology, and serves as a teaching laboratory for graduate and undergraduate students. The laboratory has become an essential element in research, education, and outreach of the School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences and the Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. It is the source of critical support to farmers throughout Alaska, rural communities interested in food stability, urban and suburban gardeners, and the growing community of ‘farmette’ owners.
Interior of the lab. Photo by Norman Harris.
A lifelong interest in agriculture led Senator Kerttula to create the Alaska Division of Agriculture, and his desire to serve the agricultural industry in Alaska and in the Matanuska Valley led him to pursue funding for an agricultural laboratory. The Palmer Research Laboratory is a tribute to his understanding of the needs of the industry, so it is only fitting that the lab bear his name.