Yanco Agricultural Institute was founded in 1908 as the Yanco Experiment Farm when the NSW Department of Agriculture purchased 323 acres of North Yanco Station from Sir Samuel MacCaughey. Three years later a further 1500 acres was purchased, and smaller land parcels were purchased from adjoining properties between 1911 and 1920 to bring the Experiment Farm to its current area of 813 hectares. Accommodation for 18 apprentices was constructed soon after Yanco Experiment Farm was established.
In May 1928 the property was transferred to the Child Welfare Department and became a home for delinquent boys, the Riverina Welfare Farm. Further accommodation facilities were erected to house a total of 128 boys. The Department of Agriculture continued to conduct crop trials on the property during this period.
In 1942 the Riverina Welfare Farm ceased operation and the boys were transferred to Gosford. The property then became POW Camp 15, which eventually held over 700 Italian prisoners of war. The farm was still managed by the Department of Agriculture and the Italian POW interns provided labour for one of the largest vegetable production units in Australia that contributed to the Allied war effort. The property was handed back to the Department of Agriculture in 1947 and renamed Yanco Experiment Farm.
Between 1948 and 1951 the farm was used partly for the training of returned soldiers under the Commonwealth Rural Training Scheme.
The property was renamed Yanco Agricultural Research Station in 1961, and was subsequently renamed Yanco Agricultural Institute. Education has been a major focus of Yanco Agricultural Institute since its inception. A number of post-graduate students, from Honours to PhD level, are co-supervised by research staff at the Institute.
In 1961 it was decided to establish an agricultural college on the site, and Yanco Agricultural College commenced operations in 1963 with a full initial intake of 38 students studying a 42-week Farm Certificate Course.
The number of courses offered and the number of enrolments increased over the years as the college expanded and more student accommodation became available, and in 1980 the name of the college was changed to Murrumbidgee College of Agriculture. The college continued to offer residential courses in agriculture until the full-time youth education ceased operations in 2003.
The Murrumbidgee Rural Studies Centre took over the short courses previously offered by Murrumbidgee College of Agriculture, and is now the Yanco Campus for Tocal College continuing to provide a wide range of courses to farmers, consultants and other members of the community.