George Stanford, 64, a retired soil scientist with the Agricultural Research Center in Beltsville, died Wednesday at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring from complications of polycythemia, a blood disorder. He lived in Siver Spring.

Dr. Stanford was a senior research scientist at the center from 1965 until his retirement last year. He specialized in soil fertility and was credited with setting up and then supervising a group of research scientists whose work on nitrogen fertilizers was of international importance.

Born in Pierre, S.D., he graduated from South Dakota State University and earned a master's degree from Iowa State University. After serving as an Army infantry captain in Europe in World War II, for which he received two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star, he earned a doctorate in soil fertility from Iowa State.

Before joining Agriculture, Dr. Stanford taught at Cornell and Iowa State universities for several years. He also was chief of the Tennessee Valley Authority's Soil and Fertilizer Research Branch at Wilson Dam in Alabama. From 1960 to 1965, he was principal agronomist of the Hawaiian Sugar Planters Research Association, acting director of the Hawaii Agricultural Experiment Station and dean of the School of Tropical Agriculture in Hawaii.

Dr. Stanford, who lived in Silver Spring, sand in the choir at University United Methodist Church in College Park and with local barbershop quartets.

Survivors include his wife, the former Helen Miller of Silver Spring; two daughters, Barbara Banks of Honolulu, and Janet Clark of Washington; three sons, Philip, of Miami, Ronald, of Takoma Park, and James, of Washington, and five grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions in his name to the Alumni Achievement Foundation, Memorial Union, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, 50011.