The Pisa branch of the ISE is made up entirely of what was originally the Institute for Soil Chemistry (ICT), founded in 1969.
In fact in the late 1960s it became clear that complex systems, like the soil , could only be studied through an interdisciplinary approach. So the need to deal with the numerous issues regarding the chemical, biochemical and physical processes responsible for maintaining an adequate level of fertility in agricultural soil was resolved by creating an institute that would integrate skills from the fields of chemistry, agricultural sciences and biology.
For many years the ICT was the only institute in the Italian National Research Council that carried out wide-ranging research on the soil. The areas studied grew in relation to new studies at a national and international level, so that environmental issues then gained more focus than the original agricultural topics.
The ICT ceased to exist in 2002 when it joined other institutes studying environmental issues and gave life to the ISE within the framework of a more general reorganization of the Italian National Research Council.