HISTORY OF THE INSTITUTE OF FORAGE CROPS – PLEVEN
The Institute of Forage Crops – Pleven was established in 1954 by Decree No. 4903 of December 24 of the Council of Ministers as the Central Research Institute for Forages, with headquarters in Pleven, for complex scientific and scientific-applied research in the field of forage production. Kocho Karadjov was appointed as executive director.
A report by the Russian professor M.P. Elsukov, director at the time of the Kormov Institute, located near Moscow. After monitoring and researching the conditions for the development of agriculture in Bulgaria in 1953, he wrote a report in which he reasoned and convincingly recommended the Ministry of Agriculture to establish a zootechnical faculty or a scientific research institute for forages, indicating its location – the city of Pleven – a region with highly developed livestock breeding (homeland of the Gray Iskar cattle, the Pleven blackface sheep breed, Danube and Pleven horse breeds), as well as an area with suitable soil and climate conditions for intensive forage production.
The newly established Forage Institute began intensive research work with annual and perennial grass and legume forage crops, grass mixtures, succulents and root crops, and scientific research also covered the problems of improving natural pastures and grasslands. Scientific developments are aimed at current issues related to the selection of new varieties and hybrids of forage plants, the technologies of cultivation, harvesting and preserving of forage and animal nutrition. A marketing process of new forms of service and implementation of global agricultural practices has started.
The first experimental activity was carried out in 1955, and for this purpose two experimental fields were set aside – the 1st experimental field „Komudara“, with an area of 280 ha, and the 2nd experimental field near the village of Krushovitsa, with 200 ha of flat land, which still exist today, but with a smaller area. Until the construction of the new building in 1972 (where the staff is currently housed), The Institute was housed in the building of the Institute of Viticulture and Winemaking.
During a long period that has passed until the present moment, the departments to which the Institute was subordinated and its names have been repeatedly changed, while the directions of scientific experimental activity have been preserved. In 2000, the Institute acquired the name Institute of Forage Crops – Pleven (IFC), and the Soybean Institute, Pavlikeni, was added to it, thereby expanding the scope of researched forage crops.
In the following years, the Institute, with a well-prepared scientific personnel potential and management structure, played a remarkable role on a regional and national scale for the development of forage production in Bulgaria. During this period, the foundations of applied science were laid, the accumulated Bulgarian and foreign experience was evaluated, the first varieties of alfalfa (Pleven 1 and Pleven 6), forage peas (Pleven 4) and grasses were created, which until the 1980s occupy more than 90% of the land in the country. Technologies for growing and using these species are also one of the most valuable and sought-after developments in the country.
During the years of its development, twelve laboratories were created in the Institute, i.e. a comprehensive laboratory complex was built. He continuously supports the scientific developments and research carried out at IFC. After the establishment of the Institute, a Vegetation House was built to conduct scientific experiments under controlled conditions.
In 1963, with a decision of the Academy of Agricultural Sciences in connection with the specialization of scientific research institutes, the activity of IFC was directed primarily in the field of grass-forage production. The academic staff begins scientific activity on two main problems: „Development and implementation of industrial technologies and varieties to increase grass-forage production“ and „Conservation and preserving of green and waste roughage“. Over a long period of time, these problems have been solved on the basis of research projects and technologies, some of which still retain their relevance today and occupy a leading place in scientific activity.