The booklet "Põllumajandusuuringute Keskus ajas ja ruumis. PMK 20" (Agricultural Research Centre in time and space. ARC 20) has been compiled based on the reminiscences of current and former ARC employees. The premiere was held on 17th October 2019 in Saku during the ARC anniversary seminar.
In this booklet we provide an overview of the origins of the Agricultural Research Centre’s testing centres, laboratories and departments, when and with whom they were joined-separated.
Though today’s Agricultural Research Centre is five times younger than the Republic of Estonia, at the age of 20, the history of ARC units still goes back to the beginning of the last century.
In Estonia, cultivation has been practiced for millennia, starting with slash-and-burn cultivation and ending with multi-field systems today.
The last century was also revolutionary in Estonian agriculture: forage clover cultivation, scientific plant breeding and breeding activities in animal husbandry were started.
The first testing stations in Estonia were established at the end of the 19th century at the Estonian Farmers’ Society. When Estonia became independent, it was necessary to put the progress of agriculture on a scientific basis as soon as possible. The first field experiments were carried out in Kuusiku in Rapla already in 1909, when a steam plow was brought to Kuusiku. Active actions continued until land reform in 1919 and included the nationalization of large land properties, the establishment of state-owned reserve land and the foundation of new farmsteads.
After the land reform, the government-owned estate was established in Kuusiku, where extensive education and training of farmers in the surrounding area continued to show them new cultivation techniques.
After Estonia’s independence, it was necessary to re-establish the agriculture left overlooked in wars.
The establishment of a National Seed Control Station got on the agenda in the early 1920s due to the need to increase the seed and variety value of seeds and to prevent the sale and import of poor quality seeds.
Already in 1923, the new agency was able to compete with modern seed-testing centres in other European countries. In 1924, the Seed Testing Station became a member of the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA).
During the years 1940-1992, the testing and seed stations in the Soviet Socialist Republic of Estonia have had various rights and names, but the work has remained the same.
In 1958, the fertilizer requirement laboratory was established on the basis of the Kuusiku test station laboratory. Practical knowledge was acquired in the German Democratic Republic. This laid the foundation for the further development of the agrochemical service in Estonia.
In 1964, the National Laboratory of Agrochemistry (VAL) was established, which in 1980 was renamed as the National Chemization Station (VKJ).
In 1992, after the re-independence of Estonia, it was reorganized into the Estonian National Agrochemical Centre.
These testing and seed stations and laboratories are the predecessors of today’s Agricultural Research Centre.