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Farms & Research Reports

  • Map of Agricultural Engineering and Agronomy Research Farms

    This site was opened in 1964 when the Agricultural Engineering and Agronomy Farms were relocated from South State Avenue in Story County. The Iowa Crops and Soils Research Association, a group of Iowa agricultural leaders with on-campus leadership by Professor H.D. Hughes, was instrumental in acquiring the farmland.

  • Allee

    This farm was started in 1958 when George M. Allee bequeathed 160 acres to ISU.

  • Map of Armstrong Memorial Research and Demonstration Farm located in Lewis, Iowa.

    The Wallace Foundation was formed in 1990 to enhance agricultural research and education for southwest Iowa. The Armstrong Research and Demonstration Farm was established by a donation of 40 acres and the sale of 360 acres to the foundation by Gail and Glendale Armstrong in 1993.

  • Map of the BioCentury Research Farm located in Boone County, Iowa.

    The BioCentury Research Farm (BCRF) is the first-in-the-nation integrated research and demonstration farm devoted to biomass production and processing. Since opening in 2009, the BCRF has promoted and supported advanced research in the areas of biomass production, harvest, storage, transport, preparation, processing and analysis.

  • Map of Brayton Memorial Research Forest located in Delaware County Iowa

    The research forest was donated to ISU in 1949 by Emma L. Brayton. The university purchased an additional 10 acres in 1951.

  • Map of Central Iowa Research and Demonstration Farms located in Story and Boone Counties.

    Agricultural land owned by ISU and its affiliates provides room for future growth of research programs and the university’s infrastructure.

  • Map of Horticulture Research Station located in Ames, Iowa

    Horticultural field research has been active at Iowa State since the beginning of the institution. The work was moved to this site in 1967 from the former location at Sheldon and Knapp streets in Ames.

  • Map of McNay Memorial Research and Demonstration Farm

    The farm was established by a donation of 480 acres in 1956 by Harry McNay and his sister, Winnie. Additional land acquisitions allowed researchers to broaden the scope of the research conducted.

  • Map of Muscatine Island Research and Demonstration Farm located in Muscatine, Iowa

    The research farm was founded in 1935 on 63 acres leased from the Rock Island Railroad. In 1983, the association purchased 40 acres of this original tract and an additional 66 acres were added in 2002. In 2013, an adjacent 20 acres were acquired.

  • Map of Neely-Kinyon Farm located in Adair County

    The Wallace Foundation was formed in 1990 to enhance agricultural research and education for southwest Iowa. A donation of a 160-acre farm in Adair County by Wayne and Margaret Neely in 1994 established the Neely-Kinyon Research Farm.

  • Map of Northeast Research and Demonstration Farm Located in Floyd County, Iowa

    The association established the farm in 1976. In 2009, the Borlaug Learning Center building opened. It houses ISU Extension and Outreach and farm staff.

  • Map of Northern Research and Demonstration Farm located in Hancock County, Iowa

    The North Iowa Experimental Association, the oldest in Iowa, was formed in 1930 and purchased 93 acres. The Clarion- Webster Experimental Association was formed in 1952 and purchased 80 acres. In 1995, the associations merged.

  • Northwest Research and Demonstration Farm

    The association purchased two tracts, 37 acres in Lyon County and 75 acres in O’Brien County, in 1954. In 1989 and 1990, the organization purchased additional land, 60 acres in Lyon County and 152 acres in O’Brien County.

  • Map of Southeast Research and Demonstration Farm

    The association purchased the main farm in 1987. An adjacent tract was acquired in 2002.

  • Map of Western Research and Demonstration Farm

    The association purchased the farm in 1946. In 2002, an additional 40 acres was given to the farm.

Putting Researchers in the Field

Land, climate and agricultural enterprises vary considerably from one area of the state to another. To find solutions to problems in each area and to study the impacts of regional differences, the Iowa Agriculture Experiment Station puts researchers in the fields of research farms across Iowa. Farms near Ames are used for intensive studies and for teaching purposes.

More than 130 Iowa State faculty members use the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' farms for teaching, research and extension. A similar number of staff members are involved as project leaders and workers. Each year about 2,000 students receive hands-on education experiences at teaching farms, including a farm management course in which undergraduates manage a crop and livestock farm. About 15,000 people visit Iowa State’s Research and Demonstration Farms every year.

Soil and Climate: A Base for research

Iowa has about 20 major soil associations, or combinations of soil types. Soil types are repeated from field to field within a geographic region. Soil types may differ in topography, texture, drainage, acidity, content of organic matter and nutrients and susceptibility to erosion. These characteristics partly determine the farm enterprises and management practices most suitable and profitable in a particular area.

Average annual rainfall in Iowa ranges from less than 26 inches in the northwest to more than 34 inches in the southeast. Annual mean temperatures range from about 46 degrees in the northern tier of counties to 52 degrees in the southern two tiers of counties. There are about 40 more days of frostfree weather in southeast Iowa compared with northeast Iowa.


Scientists assess the influence of soil differences and climate on agricultural practices by conducting similar experiments at several research farms. Projects at research farms often continue for many years to observe fluctuations in environmental conditions and long-term trends.

Markets and resources also vary across the state. At research farms, researchers determine the profitability of an agricultural enterprise in a given area. The research also yields clues to the potential of new crops and practices that may diversify the agricultural base.


Local nonprofit associations of farmers and business people own or lease eight of the 13 research farms. The state owns the other five. In central Iowa, ISU affiliate organizations own land for research.

Associations and affiliates lease the research farms to the Experiment Station. Income from farm product sales is used to offset research costs. The Experiment Station assumes the remaining costs of operating the farms.

The Experiment Station also is active in partnerships with ISU Extension, USDA National Resource and Conservation Service, USDA National Soil Tilth Laboratory and several Iowa community colleges.


Area producers suggest local problems that need to be studied and often offer suggestions for improving research at the farms. Producers make their suggestions as members of local advisory committees. These committees meet at least once each year with county and area extension staff and ISU researchers. The committee members are liaisons between the university and other producers.

The Experiment Station publishes research results in annual reports. Extension specialists use the reports in meetings, pamphlets, news stories, information websites and broadcasts. Local farmers can observe experiments firsthand and learn about the latest findings at field days that are held at the farms.

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