ARDEC was founded in 1993 in order to encourage cooperation between soils, crop and water research scientists in an integrated setting under common management. This concept began developing in the 1980s and became a reality in March of 1993. At that time, the field research stations were located at several different locations around the state, but with the foundation of ARDEC, they were all unified in one convenient location very near the main campus. The ARDEC facility has been designed to provide flexible common use areas for peak period needs and shared equipment for maximum resource use which reduces the unnecessary duplication of equipment between departments.
Plans were originally formulated in the late 1970s for the move of the Animal Sciences livestock facilities from Rigden Farm to land northeast of Fort Collins. Project construction began in 1998 and was completed in 2000 on the new livestock teaching and research facility that is adjacent to the main ARDEC facility. The facility was built with a central livestock handling system for movement of livestock from any barn or pen. In 2008, the livestock facility became integrated with ARDEC under the direction of the Agricultural Experiment Station.
ARDEC-South, the Horticulture Field Research Center which is located three miles south of the main ARDEC facility became integrated with ARDEC under the direction of the Agricultural Experiment Station in 2011.