The Laboratory was established in 1938 by the USDA Soil Conservation Service and the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station to address wind erosion problems in the Southern Great Plains. In 1953, control of the facility was transferred from the Soil Conservation Service to the newly created USDA Agricultural Research Service.
Early research involved stubble mulch tillage, water conservation, wind erosion control, wheat improvement, grass reseeding, and livestock management. The dominant soil on the Laboratory farm is Pullman clay loam, a moderately permeable surface soil underlain by a dense, very slowly permeable clay soil.
The climate is semiarid with highly variable rainfall. The annual rainfall is 18.7 inches, with 13.7 inches occurring during the summer growing season.
Current research programs are focused on sustaining production of high quality agricultural products, while improving the producer's profit margin and protecting the environment of the region. These programs include: irrigation equipment and management, evapotransporation, infiltration, conservation tillage, manure management, dust control, and renewable energies.