The creation of several research Sections devoted to specific scientific objectives was based at that time on the different Chairs occupied by young Professors that recently arrived to the University of Granada (Sciences and Pharmacy Faculties). In 1946 the two first Sections, as devoted to Chemistry-Physics and Agricultural-Chemistry, were created under the lidership of Profs. Dr. Enrique Gutierrez Ríos and Dr. Angel Hoyos de Castro, respectively. These two Sections were dependent on the Patronato Alonso de Herrera and were linked to the Institute of Edaphology and Plant Physiology of the CSIC in Madrid. Two additional Sections were added in 1949, as focussed on Soil Microbiology and Plant Physiology, under the direction of Profs. Dr. Vicente Callao Fabregat and Dr. Luis Recalde Martínez, respectively.
In 1951 the first structure, the basis for the future EEZ, was completed with the incorporation of a new section devoted to Analytic Chemistry under the direction of Prof. Dr. Fermín Capitán García. To bring together the different Sections dispersed among distinct Faculties of the University of Granada, in 1950 the CSIC acquired one building, later known as Casa Blanca (White House) and its surrounding ground of about 2250 m2 located next to the currently known as Cervantes Avenue. This building started being operative in 1953 and was fully occupied by the Sections mentioned above during 1954. Two years later, the EEZ emblematic building, known as Casa Amarilla (Yellow House), was acquired for both laboratory establishment and administrative purposes.
The first Director of the EEZ as Institute of the CSIC was the Prof. Enrique Gutierrez Ríos who remained in his position until 1957. A new Section named Mineralogy of Clays, with Prof. Juan Luis Martín Vivaldi as Section Head, was added to the Research Structure of the EEZ in 1957. Prof. Angel Hoyos de Castro was the Director of the Institute from 1957 to 1961. In 1958 the new Section of Animal Physiology was created under the supervision of Prof. Gregorio Valera Mosquera. This was a very important decision in the future development of the EEZ since animal studies extended the original aims on plant and soil research. In 1961 Dr. Luis Recalde Martínez was appointed Director of the Institute and remained in Head position until 1979. During this period the structure of the EEZ was enlarged with the incorporation of two new Sections, one devoted to Mineralogy of Soils, with Prof. Miguel Delgado Rodríguez as Head, and the second to Agrometeorology, supervised by specialists from other Organisms. A Section of Statistic coordinated by Prof. Dr. Alfonso Guiraum Martínez was also established based on a Service previously created in 1957. The early Sections that were created throughout the history of the EEZ changed with time and new Sections start to function in 1970: Biochemistry, with Prof. Federico Mayor Zaragoza as Section Head, and the Laboratory of Botany, with Prof. Fernando Esteve Chueca as Supervisor. The construction of a new building known as Casa Roja (Red Building) began in the early 1970s, became operational in 1976 and remains nowadays as one of the most important laboratory buildings at the EEZ. Prof. Dr. Manuel Lachica Garrido was the Director of the EEZ from 1979 until 1983 and, based on the directions of the CSIC, the former Section were re-organized into Structural Units. Nine of these Units were established: Physical-Chemistry and Mineral Geochemistry, Edaphology and Botany, Plant Physiology, Agricultural Chemistry, Phytopathology, Microbiology, Plant Biochemistry, Animal Physiology, and Analytical Chemistry. Under the Direction of Prof. Lachica the EEZ celebrated its XXV anniversary in 1980.
Prof. Dr. Julio Boza was the following Director of the EEZ from 1983 to 1989. In that period the CSIC began to redefine its research lines and its objectives focusing more on the biological aspects (Animal, Plant and Microbes) than on edaphic studies. Prof. Dr. José Miguel Barea Navarro was Director of the Institute from 1989 to 1998. In this period the internationalization of the research carried out by the institute took place and several research groups of the EEZ managed to obtain grants from the different programmes developed by the UE, and that allowed the strengthening of the scientific structure (personnel, equipment and publications). The nine Structural Units were re-organized into five Departments: Agroecology and Plant Protection; Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology of Plants; Soil Microbiology and Symbiotic Systems, Animal Nutrition, and Earth Sciences and Environmental Chemistry. Prof. Juan Luis Ramos Martín became Director of the EEZ in 1998 and remained in his position until 2007. In 1999 the Unit of Animal Nutrition moved out from the central location of the EEZ to a new building constructed at Armilla, a little town close to Granada. In 2002 different emblematic buildings were renewed and the construction of a new Casa Blanca replacing the former one started. This new building was inaugurated in May 2005, together with a new Auditorium. Coinciding with these events, the 50th anniversary of the EEZ was celebrated with the assistance of the CSIC President, Prof. Carlos Martínez and Prof. Federico Mayor Zaragoza, ex-Director of the UNESCO. New greenhouses were also constructed replacing the old ones and other buildings were adapted for new uses as the Library, additional laboratories, plant growth chambers, kitchenette, etc. This period of the EEZ can be considered one of the most unrestrained for both infrastructure and the incorporation of scientific personnel, mainly based in the development of the strategic plan 2005-2009 enforced by the CSIC. In the frame of this strategic plan, the EEZ was again reorganized on March 2007 in the following departments: Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology of Plants; Microbiology of Soil and Symbiotic Systems; Environmental Protection; and Environmental Geochemistry. In addition, the Department (Unit) of Animal Nutrition started its development to become in the future an Institute within the EEZ structure. On the other hand, the Environmental Geochemistry department was planned to move out of the EEZ, and join the Instituto Andaluz de Ciencias de la Tierra to develop a new independent Centre devoted to Earth Sciences Studies.
Prof. Dr. Nicolás Toro García is the current director of the EEZ from March 2007. Since then he is in charge of the development of the current Strategic Planning 2005-2009 as well as responsible of the proposal of the next one that will extend from 2010 to 2013. In this new Strategic Planning (2010-2013) the EEZ will be structured on the basis of the Departments of Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology of Plants; Microbiology of Soil and Symbiotic Systems; and Environmental Protection, while the Department of Animal Nutrition will pursue its development as a new Institute with its own strategic plan, but integrated in the structure of the EEZ. At present, new infrastructure is being added to the EEZ, i.e., a laboratory building is being constructed that should be occupied by the department of Microbiology of Soil and Symbiotic Systems in early 2009; a cafeteria is also being built, and the building already occupied in Armilla by the Animal Nutrition Department will be expanded.
The research objectives of the EEZ fit well among those considered as priority by National Scientific Research and Technology Programmes, EC programmes, Basic Science Research Programmes, Regional Government Research Plans and Strategic Research Plans of the CSIC.
On 4 may, 2015, the EEZ celebrated 60th birthday.