Research at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) began with the founding of the UP College of Agriculture (UPCA) in 1909. The UPCA was at the forefront of agricultural research, experimenting and generating knowledge on tropical agriculture when at that time, it was acknowledged there was virtually none.

When the UP College of Agriculture opened its doors to its first batches of students, the administration led by Dr. Edward Bingham Copeland saw that local information on agriculture was very limited, much needing in-depth studies necessary in order to support instruction.

Thus, in 1915, the College opened an agricultural experiment station starting with little resources, except for land and some implements. Even so, the College, by 1917 already possessed more than 2000 biological specimens, a nucleus herd, and had introduced large quantity of plants from other areas, complementing its vast collection of almost every economically important crop in the Philippines.

Act 2730 enacted by the Philippine Legislature in February 1918 formally established the College Agricultural Experiment Station with an appropriation of P 125,000. With these funds, the College was able to buy research inputs such as additional land, animals, and constructed laboratory buildings and a barn.

The College had become well-known in scientific and academic communities even before World War II, when UPCA had already developed numerous and improved crops and livestock such as animal breeds.

By 1951, five years after the war, most of UPCA’s physical assets, except the biological collections and library have been restored. By then, the Central Experimental Station did notable projects in applied research: artificial breeding through artificial insemination, finding better varieties of economic crops, determining fertilizer needs of crops under different soil and climatic conditions, looking for control of disease and pests of crops and domesticated animals, developing improved feeds for livestock and poultry, adapting small tools for farms and homes, answering pressing public questions regarding farm finance, marketing and distribution, irrigation and drainage, and utilizing agricultural products and by-products for industry use.

But owing to the close relationship of the College and its staff and Cornell University, a contract for further technical assistance between the University and Cornell was drawn. Guiding this endeavor was Jacob Gould Shurman, President of Cornell University from 1892 - 1920, and was the Chair of the First US-Philippine Commission in 1899. Thus, in July 1, 1952, the first contract between the UPCA and Cornell was signed. It would be the first contract to rebuild the College’s physical plant and strengthen its faculty and ultimately usher partnerships between the two institutions until 1960.

By 1960, 90% of all agricultural research in the Philippines was being conducted at the UP College of Agriculture.