Until the eighteenth century in Padua the cultivation and study of plants were initially the exclusive responsibility of the Botanical Gardens, founded back in 1545.
A place to support the teaching of agriculture, the agricultural garden was created two centuries after the botanical gardens, and was always completely detached from it. Pietro Arduino, a botanist, ideally joined the two gardens: first “gardener” and then “guardian” of the Botanical Gardens, in 1761 he became the first teacher to cover the new professorship ad rem agrariam and from 1766 he was also the first director of the Agricultural Garden.
The need to provide university courses in agriculture responded to contingent demands and to an attempt to renew the University of Padova, threatened by the growing numbers of universities in Europe. To be competitive, the university had to equip itself with new structures and experimental spaces, offer modern and applicative courses, and it had to do it in Italian, no longer in Latin.
In 1766 the University Reformers granted Arduino the necessary funds to build within the sixteenth-century walls, in Borgo Santa Croce, a first small Agricultural Garden equipped with few rural tools and a couple of animals. The space reserved for crops was expanded on several occasions, encompassing some neighbouring fields and reaching over 5 hectares.
The Napoleonic unification of the Kingdom of Italy provided the ideal terrain for the circulation of new ideas in the agricultural field and therefore the research benefited from it. With the return of Veneto to the Austrians and the transfer of the garden management to Luigi Configliachi, experimentation was almost completely abandoned in favour of teaching practices and already widespread crops. The formal abolition of the Agrarian Chair in 1870 determined a definite loss of interest from the academic world. In the early 1900s, the agricultural garden was destroyed and left semi-abandoned.
The new site of the agricultural garden was built in the Portello area. The new site was directed by Leopoldo di Muro, professor of economics and valuation, and later by an engineer, Guido Ferro, then rector of the University of Padua. Only in 1946 did the agrarian faculty reappear in Padua. In the 1990s, teaching and experimentation were transferred to a more suitable area in size and vocation, i.e. the new Agripolis Campus in Legnaro.