Our History

Over a century ago, the agriculture industry was one of the largest in New York. On June 26, 1880, the New York State Legislature passed an act “for the purpose of promoting agriculture in its various branches by scientific investigation and experiment”. Thus, Cornell AgriTech - then known as the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station - was established.

E. Lewis Sturtevant, our first director, set us on the path of scientific discovery and emphasized the importance of rapidly communicating results to benefit both farmers and consumers in New York. It started with 7 scientists living in the same building they used to conduct research on dairy products, horticultural production practices, and the evaluation of vegetable and field crop varieties. In 1887, the program expanded to include beef cattle, swine, and fruit varieties.

In 1923, we became part of Cornell University and our program expanded further to include research on crops for canned goods, nursery plants, and raspberries. By the end of World War II, all animal research was transferred to Cornell’s Ithaca campus, and we became a true horticultural research institute. During the late 1940s, new departments for chemistry, insects, food science, plant diseases, seed testing, and vegetable production were added to uphold our mission.

Today, Cornell AgriTech serves an evolving agricultural sector that remains an economic engine for New York, valued at over $36.7 billion annually. The campus has grown as times have changed, encompassing 900 acres of land planted to test plots, orchards, and vineyards. New programs have been added to serve the state’s grape and wine industries, hop producers, bioenergy crop production, food entrepreneurs, and farmers facing crop pests and diseases. Over 300 researchers, including faculty, staff, and students, work to safeguard New York’s production of fruits and vegetables, develop new crops, enhance food safety for consumers, and promote economically viable farming solutions. We grow just about everything here, and we welcome you to grow with us.