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One-of-a-kind seed processing center will aid researchers, breedersOne-of-a-kind seed processing center will aid researchers, breeders

Purdue's new Indiana Corn and Soybean Innovation Center includes a world-class seed processing lab for small-plot programs.

Tom Bechman 1

August 11, 2016

3 Min Read

There are many ways to speed up plant improvement. One is to gather more data and study how genetics and environment interact. Another is to speed up and streamline the seed harvesting and processing capabilities for small-plot seed that must be hand-harvested and hand-processed.

Jason Adams, manager of Purdue University’s new Indiana Corn and Soybean Innovation Center, says this addition to the Purdue Agronomy Center for Research and Education fulfills both functions. Other articles have put the spotlight on the center's equipment that collects data in the field. Here’s a closer look at the new facility's state-of-the-art seed processing lab.


If you are a plant breeder and must harvest inbred plots by hand, you also must process them by hand. It’s a painstaking, time-consuming process, especially if you have to bag the seed yourself and dispose of the crop residue left behind. Plant breeders and researchers doing harvesting and processing by hand at Purdue will no longer be slowed down by those obstacles, Adams says.

“Our people were working in older buildings, often not in the best of conditions, and we wanted to develop a facility that would allow them to be comfortable and productive,” he says.

Custom design

Ten shelling units are available in the new facility. That alone is a plant breeder or researcher’s dream. Many times they don’t have access to nearly that many machines, no matter where they work. If they wait for machine time, it can slow the process.


The people who designed the seed processing lab literally went anywhere someone was using an innovative piece of equipment or had a reputation for a good facility. They picked up ideas wherever they could find them.

“When it came to getting leftover residue away from the machines and out of the building, there wasn’t a system out there that did exactly what we wanted,” Adams says. So they found a company that agreed to build a system for them.

Residue moves through a collection system that takes it outside the seed processing lab to a grinder. At the same time, dust collectors inside the lab suck up dust from harvesting and feed it out, as well. “The plant breeder or researcher simply puts the ear or stalks in, and then gets his or her seed back in a bag,” Adams says. “Everything else is taken care of for them.”

Next step

Once the plant breeder or researcher has the seed from the small plots, it goes into a different room for conditioning and preparation for planting next season. The Indiana Corn and Soybean Innovation Center also has state-of-the-art capability for applying seed treatments as desired.

Not all the equipment is in place yet in some parts of the building, Adams says. Eventually, color sorters and other equipment will speed up the process and make it more efficient at the same time.

“Our staff working with small grains used the facility this summer,” Adams says. Once a few bugs were resolved, it worked great, he concludes. 

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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