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The Institute of Plant Protection (IPP) was established by  Government Order No. 33 of 24 January 1951 to reorganize the State Research Institute of Rural Economy in Puławy and differentiate institutes specializing in agricultural science. Before World War II, the Department of Plant Protection of the State Research Institute of Rural Economy in Puławy  held a preeminent position in the national administration of plant protection research.  The above Department was divided among research centres located in Puławy, Bydgoszcz, Wrocław and Gorzów Wielkopolski. The aim of the research conducted at that time was to identify economically important diseases and their causal agents,  study their biology, and  develop control methods.

            The first directors of the Institute of Plant Protection were Zdzisław Dąbrowski, M.Sc. (1951–1953), Klementyna Stępniewska, Ph.D. (1953-1956) and Jerzy Obarski, Ph.D. (1956). Originally the Headquarters of the Institute was situated in Puławy, but then moved into Warsaw for administrative purposes. At that time in the country, a critical challenge was to eliminate the Colorado potato beetle (Leptinotarsa cecemlineata L.) – a new quarantine-restricted pest, which had spread successively from western to eastern Europe. As a consequence, cooperative research was undertaken with great urgency  to investigate  the biology, ecology and threat to the potato crop by the pest under Polish conditions, and to develop control methods. A special branch for Colorado Beetle Research and Toxicology was established in Pszczyna in 1951, and then moved to the Institute Branch in Sośnicowice near Gliwice. At the end of 1952, a special division for Colorado beetle research was also established at the Institute of Plant Protection in Poznań. In addition, a Field Station was established in the former estate of Count Dezydery Chłapowski in Turwia where in its Biocenotic Laboratory   studies were conducted on the migration of the Colorado potato beetle and pest control methods. Research conducted by this Station also covered overwintering, migration, and control methods of the beet leaf bug (Piesma quadratum Fieb.), dynamics of development of aphids and their natural enemies as well as the influence of mid-field afforestation on  useful fauna.

            At that time, the Institute of Plant Protection consisted of six scientific branches  and 25 research groups involved in plant protection and classified accordingly to their specialities, however, such administration of the Institute, involving scattered research groups with low staffing, resulted in some  collaborative limitations. As a result of collaborative consultation and discussion within various commissions of the Ministry of Agriculture, the headquarters of the Institute of Plant Protection was moved to Poznań by Government Order No. 232 of 25 October 1956. Władysław Węgorek, who was assistant professor at that time, was appointed as the director. Soon a Scientific Council was established with a membership of the most distinguished specialists and experienced plant protection researchers. A plan was developed for further reorganization of the Institute in anticipation of establishing  a  significant and competent scientific and research centre in Poznań, and leaving only a small number of satellite experimental stations. Therefore, many researchers moved from Puławy, Wrocław and Bydgoszcz to Poznań.

            The Institute began publishing its first post-war journal ‘Biuletyn Instytutu Ochrony Roślin” presenting the most recent results of studies  conducted at the Institute with the inclusion of Russian and English summaries. The first edition of – Recommendations for chemical control of diseases, pests and weeds in agricultural crops – was written and published in 1967.

            The first Plant Protection Conference took place in Poznań in 1961 at the initiative of Professor Węgorek, and provided a model for annual Scientific Sessions of the Institute of Plant Protection. The Sessions continue to the present (with the exception of Marshal Law in 1981). A wide range of conference participants is normally represented by distinguished specialists from national and foreign research centres, authorities, national office workers, and advisory services as well as individual farmers. In fact, the Scientific Session of the Institute are regarded as the Polish science congresses in the area of plant protection. The 50th. Jubilee Scientific Session of IPP – NRI was held in 2010.

            The significant effort and contribution of the Institute in preserving historic and invaluable structures and land are especially noteworthy and deserve great credit.  These include the palace of Dezydery Chłapowski in Turwia (current headquarters of the Polish Academy of Sciences) and the palace of General Jan Henryk Dąbrowski in Winna Góra. Recently the palace in Winna Góra has been sold, and only a part of arable lands used for field experiments is administrated by the Agricultural Experimental Station of the Institute.

            Prof. Władysław Węgorek, who was the founder  and director of the Plant Protection Institute, retired in 1988, after 32 years of building, organizing, and managing the Institute.  The subsequent director, Prof. Stefan Pruszyński, Ph.D., served in his managerial role at the Institute until 2006.  At that time, Prof. Marek Mrówczyński, Ph.D. assumed the current position of director.      

             In 1971–1990 the Institute was awarded  a leadership role  for the coordination and implementation of three successive Main Projects as well as the Central Research and Development Programme. During this period, a group of over 20 scientific-research centres from throughout Poland representing institutes of higher education and the Polish Academy of Sciences as well as  other research establishments met regularly at the Institute of Plant Protection in Poznań. Coordinated research and its implementation contributed to significant progress in plant protection research in Poland which attained a world-class level.

              Concurrently, the Institute became a centre for coordination of plant protection research conducted by the former states of the people’s democracies of Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, German Democratic Republic, Poland, Rumania, Hungary and the USSR with the creation of the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA). At the Institute, a special Working Group of Coordinating Centres of CMEA was established in 1972. This activity allowed the Institute to establish contacts with other comparable institutes in Central and Eastern Europe and consolidated its position as a leading or preeminent  institution in the field of crop protection in this part of Europe. At that time, the Institute partnered with other European research centres to develop the programme – “Developing  of new pesticides, biological and other plant protection methods, and a comprehensive study on their influence on the environment”. This programme was modified in 1986 as follows “Developing of  systems for pesticide use, biological plant protection products and  a comprehensive study on their influence on the environment”. Notably, 2038 papers were presented at a total of 158 scientific conferences, symposia, workshops under the aegis of this programme.

            At the beginning of the 1970’s, the Institute established a system for pesticide residue analysis as a response to the Resolution of the Council Ministers No. 64/70 of 18 May  1970,   which dealt with the administration of research in the area of toxicology, safe application of plant protection products, and residues of pesticides in food and the environment.  Despite the recent development of more advanced technologies, this system, using classical analytical techniques, has contributed significantly over many years to the management of pesticide residues. For 40 years, and in particular since 1996 as directed by the commission of Plant Health and Seed Inspection, the Institute of Plant Protection – NRI through its network of laboratories has been conducting a systematic monitoring of pesticide residues in samples of agricultural products, collected from the areas of application.  In 2006-2010 the Institute laboratories, jointly with the Veterinary Inspection, monitored pesticide residues in feedstuffs of plant origin. Since 1982,  monitoring of pesticide residues in surface and underground water has been also conducted. The activities performed by the laboratories of IPP – NRI are wide ranging and involve the entire area of the country. The research is conducted by the Department of Pesticide Residue Research, Laboratory of Pesticide Residue Research in Sośnicowice and  laboratories of the Regional Experimental Stations in Białystok, Rzeszów and Trzebnica. Validated analytical procedures are used for research in  laboratories that are  well equipped with modern measurement apparatus. The Polish Centre for Accreditation for management of testing laboratories meeting the requirements of the ISO/IEC 1725 has granted the Accreditation Certificate to the following Laboratories of Pesticide Residue Research: Department of Pesticide Residue Research in Poznań (No. AB 851), IPP – NRI Branch Sośnicowice (No. AB 440),  Regional Experimental Stations Białystok (No. AB 839) and Rzeszów (No. AB 1279). All the above mentioned laboratories are regularly subjected to international  validation tests to verify their competency and progress.  The Laboratories for Pesticide Residue Research of IPP – NRI participate in annual, mandatory proficiency tests for official laboratories  organized by the European Reference Laboratories (EURLs) on behalf of the European Committee. These proficiency tests are: EURL for Fruit and Vegetables in Almeria – Spain; EURL for Cereal and Feeding Stuff in Soeborg – Denmark; EURL for Single Residue Methods in Fellach – Germany as well as proficiency tests FPAS organized by  the Food and Environment Research Agency in York – Great Britain.  

            As directed by the Resolution of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of 13 June 2008 dealing with reference laboratories  for research on feedstuffs (Monitor No. 188, entry 758), the Department of Pesticide Residue Research of the Institute of Plant Protection – NRI was established as a national quality control centre for laboratories of the Veterinary Inspection in the area of pesticide residues in feedstuffs of plant origin. One of its functions is to conduct  validation tests for these laboratories in order to ensure adequate analytical quality control of  test results.

            As further evidence of competency in analytical research, the Department of Pesticide Analysis of IPP – NRI  Sośnicowice Branch was awarded the Certificate of compliance with the principles of Good Laboratory Practice No. 7/2008/DPL in the area of analysis of composition and physico-chemical properties of plant protection products. The Laboratory of Pesticide Residue Research of the Regional Experimental Station in Białystok also has been granted this Certificate (No. 3/2010/DPL) in the field of analytical research of pesticide residues which permits quality control testing for the purity of registered plant protection products.

In 2010, the Institute of Plant Protection – NRI celebrated the 60th anniversary of its founding. At present,  the Institute is an important centre for scientific work, implementation, extension as well as professional education in the general area of crop  protection.  For over sixty years, the Institute of Plant Protection has been  a leader in the development of crop protection technology, by establishing, organizing and implementing, among other projects:

  • monitoring systems for  pest and disease occurrence throughout Poland,
  • pesticide registration systems
  • monitoring of pesticide residues and analytical quality control of plant protection products
  • use of biological methods for crop protection
  • innovative plant protection programmes for cultivated plants against pests and casual agents of diseases.

 As promulgated by the Directive of the Council Ministers, the Institute of Plant Protection was given the  status of  National Research Institute (NRI) [Monitor of 21 April 2008 No. 66 entry 403]. The 2005-2010 long-term programme – “Protection of Cultivated Plants with the Consideration of Food Safety, Reduction of Yield Losses , and Threat to Humans, Farm Animals and the Environment” achieved by the IPP – NRI covered the most important strategic goals in the field of crop protection. The current long-term programme for 2011–2015 is a continuation of the above programme. The  results of the research conducted within this programme are utilized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Plant Health and Seed Inspection, and agricultural extension and producers. The Institute is well equipped with modern equipment for conducting research in the scope of molecular biology and pesticide residues, and  has  two modern  microscopes: Scanning Electron Microscope and Transmission Electron Microscope.

      The Research Centre for Quarantine-Restricted, Invasive and Genetically Modified Organisms of the Institute of Plant Protection – NRI  initiated  its activities in 2009. Its work involves interdisciplinary research on quarantine-restricted and invasive organisms as well as on potential use of genetically modified organisms. The Centre is a modern, unique facility in Poland which meets the highest standards of phytosanitary safety (SL 3) as defined by the Directive of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of 28 June 2004 (Monitor No. 158, entry 1660) and EPPO standard PM 3/64(1). The facility meets Level II/III isolation requirements for research with genetically modified organisms defined  by the Directive of the Environment Minister of 29 November 2002 (Monitor No. 212, entry 1978).

     Since 1 January 2010, the Institute has been participating in a programme financed by the Operational Programme – Innovative Economy (OPIE). Within the framework of this programme, the Plant Disease Clinic was established,  as the only such  facility  in the Republic of Poland.

      The Scientific Council of the Institute of Plant Protection – NRI is authorized to award Ph.D. and Assistant Professor degrees of agricultural sciences in the fields of plant protection  and agronomy as well as applications for awarding the title of Professor. The Scientific Council has awarded a total of 88 Ph.D. and 45 Assistant Professor degrees, and recommended 27 applications for title of Professor.

      The Institute employed 343 workers as of 31 December 2010. Currently, the staff of the Institute is represented by 115 scientific researchers 12  professors, 13 ass. professors, 53 Ph.D. (doctors),  36 junior assistants and 137 engineers and technicians. The 92 remaining employees represent those in  finance department, administration and technical service.

     The Institute of Plant Protection – NRI together with the Committee of Plant Protection  of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Polish Society of Plant Protection is  a co-editor of two scientific journals: Journal of Plant Protection Research (a quarterly in English) and Progress in Plant Protection/Postępy w Ochronie Roślin (a  yearbook  – containing four volumes in Polish). The Institute also publishes IPP – NRI Dissertations (serial publishing) and numerous professional and popular scientific periodicals.

      According to performance metrics established by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education in Poland for a score based categorization of research institutions for 2005-2009, the Institute of Plant Protection – NRI  was awarded first category A.

      Extensive information on the history and activities of  the Institute is available in commemorative editions presented below.     

                                                                                           Stefan Wolny, Ph.D.


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