Iowa State University

Manjit Misra, Seed Science Center, (515) 294-6821
Denis McGee, Seed Science Center, (515) 294-7560
Steve Jones, News Service, (515) 294-4778


AMES, Iowa -- More than $550,000 in gifts from United States seed companies will help fund an addition to the Seed Science Center building at Iowa State University.

The 1,600-square-foot addition will house a high-tech seed training, demonstration and conference facility. The $660,000 project also includes a remodeled seed health testing laboratory and classroom.

"The new training facility will be fitted with modern computer and communications technology and serve as the hub of our educational activities that benefit the U.S. seed industry, international clients and public agencies," said Manjit Misra, Seed Science Center director.

Twenty-four seed companies, several seed associations and some individuals contributed to the project.

"It's quite impressive that the entire seed industry really got behind the fund-raising effort," Misra added.

Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. provided a $100,000 gift and a $150,000 matching grant for the project. The other lead donors are Dekalb Genetics Corporation, Asgrow Seed Co., Northrup King Co. and Ciba Seeds. Additional large donors are Lynks Seeds; Cargill Seeds; Corn States Hybrid Service, Inc.; Golden Harvest Seeds, Inc.; Gustafson, Inc.; Land O'Lakes, Inc.; and Petoseed, Inc. ISU's College of Agriculture has contributed $100,000 to the project.

The Iowa Seed Association, the American Seed Trade Association, the Iowa Crop Improvement Association and the Committee for Agricultural Development also endorsed and contributed to the project, Misra said.

The improvements are needed, Misra said, to help the center's faculty and staff meet the growing need for research, training and seed health testing.

"Demand for seed health testing by Iowa and U.S. companies wanting to export seed is expected to rise significantly due to increased regulations worldwide," said Denis McGee, a seed pathologist at the ISU center.

McGee said he is aware of only one other U.S. facility that conducts as broad a range of seed health tests as the ISU laboratory. He believes that the ISU center, which does about 3,000 seed health tests annually, conducts more than any other U.S. laboratory. The center also conducts tests for seed purity and germination for companies from all over the U.S. and Canada.

Seed Science Center staff are working with officials from other nations to standardize seed health tests. Seed health requirements are different in many nations, Misra said, and standardized tests would allow U.S. companies to more efficiently export seed.

"Improved facilities will help us to increase the competitiveness of the U.S. seed industry in world markets," Misra noted.

Iowa State has been conducting seed research and testing since 1890. The center's seed laboratory is one of the world's largest, Misra said, testing about 50,000 samples annually from more than 300 plant species. In addition, the center hosts workshops, training seminars and other continuing education programs each year for seed industry employees from the U.S. and several other nations.

ISU is one of only a few U.S. universities to offer an undergraduate seed science degree program. Master's and Ph.D. programs also are offered.

A groundbreaking ceremony will be held on June 14 with construction expected to be completed in early 1997.

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