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NC Iowa Agronomy Connection Newsletter

Special Edition


ISU Research Farms - Special Edition

Did you know, in addition to the research farms and facilities located in and around Ames, Iowa State University has partnership agreements with several outlying research farms to conduct research at those farms? Did you know 8 of the outlying research farms are owned by research associations that are comprised of members that include farmers, individuals, ag businesses and employees and local citizens? This includes the Northern Research Farm at Kanawha. These outlying farms are strategically located around Iowa so research can be conducted in different soil associations and different climate parameters.  

While I want to focus on the Northern Research Farm, located at Kanawha Iowa, you can find information about all the research farms at the ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Research and Demonstration Farms web site. I also included a list of upcoming research association meetings below in Events. I would encourage you to attend one of the meetings and to become a member of your local research farm association. 

The Northern Research Farm is the oldest outlying research farm in the ISU research farm system.  It was formed in 1930 when American Crystal Sugar approached Charles Curtiss, director of the Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station and Dean of the College of Agriculture regarding the need for research to support sugar beet production and other crops in northern Iowa. The Kanawha Chamber of Commerce, local farmers and businesses in the area raised $12,000 and purchased 85 acres and built a lab and machine shed. This site is now commonly referred to as the "North Farm". Let me remind you this was quite the undertaking during the Great Depression! In May of 1931 the Northern Iowa Experimental Association was organized with the support of 350 shareholders. This became Iowa State University's first outlying research farm. In 1946, the Clarion-Webster Experimental Association was formed and in 1952 they purchased an 80-acre tract of land south of Kanawha. This is commonly referred to as the "South Farm". In 1995, the two associations consolidated and formed the North Central Iowa Research Association. This outlying farm is the smallest in size at 165 acres, but this farm has a mighty history, as it has served as the original model for the development of other association owned farms in the partnership with ISU. This model has also been used in other states and countries!

Where are we today?   

The Northern Research Farm is currently in the midst of a capital campaign to raise funds to build a new facility that will house the farm offices, a kitchen, restrooms, a small conference room, and mutil-use meeting/demonstration space and a shop. The capital campaign officially kicked off in June 2021 with the original goal to raise $500,000. Since that time, construction costs have increased and the board of directors continue to work to raise awareness of funds needed to support this capital campaign. Revised construction bids are currently being sought. At this point in time, just over $490,000 has been raised with a goal of completing the facility in 2024.

Why a new facility?  Much like other farms, more space is needed and the size of equipment has changed so adequate shop space is needed. In addition, the current farm facilities do not have meeting space to host farm events, field days, youth programming or Extension meetings. The goal is to expand the extension/outreach and research capacity of this farm to better serve the farmers and all people of NC Iowa.  

How can you help? Consider becoming a member of the North Central Iowa Research Association. It is $25 for a 3-year membership. Consider serving on the board of directors. The board of directors sets goals for future projects, oversees the fields days and serve as liaisons to local farmers and communities. Consider making a financial contribution to the capital campaign. The association provides three main ways you can financially support this capital campaign: 1) you can donate directly to the North Central Iowa Research Association, a 501(c)(3) entity (address below); 2) you can work through your local cooperative to give gifts of grain; 3) you can work through the ISU Foundation or 4) you can work with farm management to make an in-kind contribution of materials or services. Questions regarding support of this capital campaign can be directed to association president, Greg Guenther at 515-395-8257.  
North Central Iowa Research Association
310 S. Main St.,
Kanawha, IA 50447;

If you would like membership information or capital campaign information please reach out to me and I will provide additional literature. I hope to see you at the North Central Iowa Research Association annual meeting on Thursday, March 9, starting at 9 a.m. at the Red Shed in Clarion. Please see program and registration information in the graphic below. If you have questions about other research farm associations, also contact me and I will put you in touch with others who can answer your questions. 

Thank you for your support of this capital campaign! 

Conceptual design of the planned new extension and research facility at the Northern Research Farm. 

As a side note to this effort, the current farmhouse, garage, scale house/utility shed and scale are being sold at auction on March 15 at 5:30 p.m. to make space for the new facility. Auction information, building information and pictures are available through Hundertmark Auction Service.

March 2.  Southeast Iowa Agricultural Research Association Annual Meeting

March 9.  North Central Iowa Research Association

March 15. Northeast Iowa Agricultural Experimental Association Annual Meeting

March 15. Southwest Iowa Agricultural Research Association Annual Meeting.
Angie Rieck-Hinz
Extension Field Agronomist
Cell: 515-231-2830
Twitter: @nciacrops

 Cerro Gordo,
Franklin, Hamilton, Hardin,
Humboldt, Webster,
Worth and Wright Counties.

Past Issues of this Newsletter
Additional Resources

Integrated Crop Management 

Ag Decision Maker

Iowa Environmental Mesonet

ISU Women in Ag 
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