The Kansas Wheat Innovation Center was built by the Kansas Wheat Commission, through the Kansas wheat checkoff, to get improved wheat varieties into the hands of farmers faster. It represents the single largest research investment by Kansas wheat farmers in history. The Center was built on land owned by Kansas State University; the Kansas Wheat Commission has a 50-year lease on the property.
Construction on the $15 million Kansas Wheat Innovation Center began in October 2011 and the facility was completed in November 2012. An additional four greenhouse bays were completed in spring 2018.
The Kansas Wheat Innovation Center represents the state’s single-largest, farmer investment in wheat research. The office space is anchored by the Wheat Growers Board Room. When a sliding wall is opened, the Kansas Wheat Spokesperson test kitchen turns the board room into a classroom. The center also includes 15,000 square feet of state-of-the-art laboratory space, where Heartland Plant Innovations conducts research dedicated to new genetic traits and technologies for wheat.
The KWIC features about 48,000 square feet of space, including:
15,000 square feet of research laboratories. One current occupant of lab space is Heartland Plant Innovations, where researchers are developing doubled haploid wheat lines, which enable pure lines of wheat to be developed quickly, reducing the time needed to create wheat varieties by about 50%. The laboratory section features 13 environmentally controlled growth rooms, in which young plants can be grown in a controlled environment. The laboratories include space that is being used by K-State’s Wheat Genetics and Genomics Resource Center and General Mills.
22,750 square feet of greenhouses. Eight greenhouse rooms are used to grow out wheat plants in the doubled haploid process. One of the rooms is air-conditioned, providing ideal growing conditions for wheat even in the hottest summer months. All eight units have automated controls for shade, ventilation and watering. The greenhouse portion of the building includes a headhouse in which soil preparation, potting and seed processing occur.
10,000 square feet of offices. The KWIC is home to several tenants: Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, Kansas Wheat Alliance, Heartland Plant Innovations, Earth's Harvest, the Kansas Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom and Dr. Jesse Poland of the Poland Lab for Wheat Genetics and Germplasm Improvement. The office portion features a boardroom, large meeting space/classroom and a test kitchen. There are 33 employees working at the KWIC.
The KWIC is also home of the world renowned Wheat Genetics Resource Center. The WGRC has established a national and international network to conduct and coordinate genetic studies in wheat. The WGRC has also been recently designated as a National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center. This is the first I/UCRC focusing on plant sciences. The NSF Center is a collaboration between private wheat genetics companies and public universities including K-State, Colorado State and Washington State. The goal is to leverage the wide genetic diversity of wheat to improve modern varieties.