Students, faculty and partners came together to celebrate the opening of a one-of-a-kind facility near the campus of Iowa State University on September 8, 2023. The Iowa State University KENT Feed Mill and Grain Science Complex has already made a significant impact on students, faculty and collaborators across the university and will set a new course for the state’s feed and grain industry.
Announced in 2017 and completed in 2023, the 47,000-square-foot complex includes a 100-foot-tall concrete milling tower and 40-foot-tall pelleting plant; 220,000 bushels of steel grain storage with handling and drying systems, and a warehouse. The Iowa Corn Education building includes a 50-person classroom, analytical laboratory and pilot plant for research and training.
The facility will be almost completely run by students who will learn the technical aspects of feed mill operation, as well as leadership and decision making that would typically only come in an industry setting. Feed produced at the mill will be used for university research projects, student-run farms and for commercial purposes. The grain science portion of the complex will receive harvested grain from university farms and nearby grain elevators as well.
“The Iowa State University KENT Feed Mill and Grain Science Complex is a unique project that sets Iowa State apart in the U.S. and around the world. It was made possible by collaboration and support of partners that can only happen in Iowa,” said Dr. Wendy Wintersteen, president of Iowa State University. "It will provide unparalleled opportunities for students and researchers and is a stellar example of bringing our land grant legacy to a modern world to benefit not only students, but also Iowa’s farmers and communities."
The complex fulfills the university’s vision to bring grain sciences, animal sciences, agricultural engineering and feed technology faculty, students and programs together in one facility. As part of the facility planning and development, the university created a new feed technology minor. Starting in 2019, students from multiple degree programs have been able to take specialized courses related to feed technology, become familiar with the grain and feed industries, and explore career opportunities in animal nutrition, feed formulation, and equipment engineering, design and service.
Funding for the $35 million facility came entirely from private donors, including KENT Corporation, Iowa Corn Promotion Board, Sukup Manufacturing Co., California Pellet Mill (CPM), Iowa Crop Improvement Association and many other generous donors.
Even before officially opening, the facility was used by engineering and project management classes, grain preservation and ag engineering classes will also utilize it for labs on grain drying, handling, processing and more.
"Feed and Grain Science are fundamental to the American and global food supply, which is thriving,” said Gage Kent, chairman and chief executive officer of KENT Corporation. "With this facility, we are providing best-in-class, hands-on training for the next generations of industry leaders, farmers, engineers and more. The decision-making opportunities students will gain at this complex will give them a jump start on their careers and help bring innovative ideas to reality quickly. We thank America’s Cultivation Corridor for providing key facilitation of the initial collaboration between KENT and Iowa State on this worthy investment, and for all of the partnerships that came together to make this resource possible in Iowa."
Continued innovation in the feed industry will benefit Iowa’s grain and livestock producers, as 25% of the state’s corn crop is fed to livestock and commercial feed consumption has doubled in the past decade.
The facility will also provide an opportunity for industry leaders and researchers from around the world to come to see in person the innovation that is happening in grain processing and animal nutrition.
Published September 2023.