The Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (IAS) was established in 1992 as a unique research center within the CSIC mission in agricultural research. Its specific focus is the study of agricultural systems in Andalusia, such as dryland and irrigated herbaceous crops and olive orchards, in order to harmonize food production with conservation of natural resources and environmental protection. This was the mission statement presented by the IAS and endorsed by the CSIC at the time of its establishment, when conducting research oriented towards the economic and social needs of the region was identified as a major goal.

Now, almost 20 years later, the thrust of the IAS, outlined in Action Plan 2010-13, focuses on such objectives as undertaking strategic analyses of resources to improve the sustainability of agriculture; investigating and comparing options for exploiting these resources sustainably and economically; and optimizing resource use while minimizing environmental degradation.

Spearheading these objectives are 36 researchers in the Departments of Agronomy, Plant Breeding, and Crop Protection. They are part of a total staff of 202, including administrative and service employees, technicians, and researchers at pre- and post-doctoral levels.