Indiana Crop Beefs Up Testing Power

Demand for new trait testing and more lead to expansion.

Published on: Aug 8, 2007

The Indiana Crop Improvement Association will soon add another 6,500 square feet of space to it's Indiana Crop Information and Seed Technology Center. The board of directors for the organization made it official by voting their stamp of approval just last week.

Once housed in a tiny facility on US 52 on the south side of Lafayette, Indiana Crop Improvement Association moved to a new, much larger facility several miles further south, on Stockwell Road in Tippecanoe County, several years ago. The current facility is just a couple miles from the site of the 2001 Farm Progress Show at Lafayette- the last Farm Progress Show held in Indiana.

The new addition will house the Genetics Lab, the Bioassay Herbicide Testing Department and the Cold Testing Department. It will also provide for a new Sand Germination Testing Area and will increase warehouse space.

Once heavily involved in checking germination for smaller seed companies selling public varieties, especially of wheat and soybeans, ICIAs role has shifted over the years. They still offer that service and also do field inspections, but their labs are also becoming more popular for testing for genetic purity and identification, trait validation, fertile/sterile testing and non-GMO testing. The biggest area of growth in samples requested to be run and one fo the drivers behind the need for more space is ICIAs Genetics Program.

Rick Vierling, associated with ICIA, says that the increased testing capacity will also allow them to do tests they couldn't do before. One new program ICIA offers is Forensic Seed Services. It may not have the glamour of Miami: CSI or Without a Trace, popular TV programs that feature forensic science at work solving crimes, but it's becoming of increasing importance to the seed industry, officials note. This is an industry that's handling an incredibly larger inventory of specialized products than in earlier times. One relatively small seed corn company alone sold some 80 different products in '07.

"Mistakes happen," Vierling says. "But the ability to definitively identify the root cause will prevent them from happening again."

Indiana Crop Improvement Association uses ISO 9001-2000 Certified testing procedures in its labs to guarantee that tests are conducted correctly. ICIA also boasts the first Registered Genetics Technologist in the country on its staff. Learn more at: www.indianacrop.org.