About Indiana Corn and Soybean Innovation Center

The Indiana Corn and Soybean Innovation Center at Purdue University, a 25,500-square-foot facility at the Agronomy Center for Research and Education (ACRE), opened in fall 2016 and is one of the nation’s first and largest field phenotyping facilities.

This research facility is open to Purdue faculty, staff, and students and features state-of-the-art technologies for plant processing, seed analysis, threshing and shelling, advanced sensing, and data management. Purdue researchers from the college of Agriculture and Engineering have come to depend on the facility, with nearly 40 labs now using the shared space.

The facility is made possible in part by significant funds from Indiana farmers through the Indiana Soybean Alliance and Indiana Corn Marketing Council. This investment creates a platform for STEM education, bringing together engineers, aviation scientists, computer scientists and agronomists to apply their knowledge to the most pressing problems in plant sciences in the most difficult and important environment – the field that impacts our entire food production system.

While the genetic background of plants may be known, the environment varies and will cause difference in physical plant characteristics. Billions of measurements on crops grown at the center are gathered from drones and advanced sensors to quantify physical characteristics such as canopy area, plant height, and photosynthetic activity. That data is then transferred by fiber-optic cable to the University’s high-performance computing facilities for analysis.

Plant breeders can use this insight to develop crop varieties that better withstand environmental stresses, have improved nutritional attributes, and produce greater yield, among other important characteristics. The Indiana Corn and Soybean Innovation Center is a testament to opportunities that arise when farmers, academic researchers, industry leaders, and other stakeholders work together in partnership to develop new ways to sustainably feed more than 9 billion people projected to inhabit the planet by 2050.

Facts

  • First facility of its kind at an American university
  • $15M automated field phenotyping facility
  • 25,500 sq. ft. building is located on Purdue’s Agronomy Center for Research and Education (ACRE), a 1,408-acre research station
  • 5,000 sq. ft. high bay space with 25 ft. clearance for sensor and phenomics tool development
  • Data transfers directly back to Purdue campus through 10Gb per second fiber optics – nearly 1,000 times as fast as the average internet connection in the US
  • Capable of producing 10 Terabytes of data a week – that’s comparable to 40 days of video or 17,000 hours of music!
  • A large fleet of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) for field remote sensing
  • PhenoRover, semi-automated and ground-based sensor platform to measure variation in crop performance
  • 200 ft. main hallway used to calibrate sensors
  • 13 threshing and shelling lines, providing optimal efficiency during peak seasons