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College of Agriculture

Research Strengths

Animals and Animal Systems

Certain aspects of beef, dairy and swine research at Kansas State University hold national or international reputations as leader. In fiscal year 2014, expenditures in those three areas include:

  • Beef cattle -- $10.2 million
  • Dairy cattle -- $3.0 million
  • Swine -- $6.2 million

The Beef Cattle Research Center conducts research to improve management practices for efficient production of safe, high quality beef products.

Researchers in the swine nutrition group are conducting studies to improve diets, a science so exact that even a 1 percent improvement in feeding efficiency can translate to $100 million of added profit to the industry.

Also, pet food is an emerging area of expertise. Kansas State University faculty lead numerous studies that will help fuel the state’s $7 billion pet food industry.

Angus cattle
Food Science, Food and Feed Safety, and Grain Science

The university’s excellence in food science and safety was a key component for the planning, funding and construction of the Biosecurity Research Institute (BRI), a biosafety level 3 research facility.

BRI supports comprehensive ‘farm to fork’ infectious disease research programs that address threats to plant, animal and human health.

The Food Science Institute provides research and technical assistance for the food industry. The Institute organizes the research of approximately 57 faculty from five colleges and 13 departments. Their areas of expertise include

  • food chemistry,
  • food microbiology,
  • food safety,
  • veterinary medicine,
  • cereal science,
  • dairy science,
  • meat science,
  • food service,
  • sensory analysis,
  • food engineering,
  • human nutrition, and
  • product development.

The Department of Grain Science and Industry is the only place in the United States that offers college degrees in baking, feed, or milling science and management. Students and faculty provide research, testing and training that help them develop relationships with companies nationwide.

The Cargill Feed Safety Research Center is a biosafety level 2 facility in which researchers conduct important studies that help to increase the safety of stored grain products.

Petri dish 

Plants and Plant Systems

Kansas State University research in plant production and protection includes fundamental genetics; plant growth; physiology and development to harvesting; pests and diseases; storage; and adding value to crops.

Wheat and grain sorghum are key areas of research. In fiscal year 2014, expenditures for what were $14.7 million, and expenditures for sorghum reached $7.4 million. Kansas routinely ranks first among all states in wheat and grain sorghum production and exports.

The university supports wheat breeding programs in Manhattan and Hays, and has strong partnerships with USDA/ARS scientists. The Wheat Genetics Resource Center maintains a gene bank on 2,500 wheat species accessions. The Center’s scientists conduct genetic studies of the physiological, quality and yield traits of wheat.

The U.S. Agency for International Development has validated Kansas State University’s work in these areas, having awarded Feed the Future Labs that focus on wheat genomics; sorghum and millet; and post-harvest losses.

The Fungal Genetics Stock Center recently located to Kansas State University. The Center has extensive holdings of genetically characterized Neurospora mutants and 10,000 knock-out deletion mutants, as well as molecular genetic tools for working with plant pathogens, industrial fungi, model organisms and human pathogens.

Field of wheat