The WinField United Innovation Center — a new epicenter of research that will help give farmers more and better tools to grow crops more sustainably — opened Sept. 27 in River Falls, Wis. The 55,000 sq. ft. facility replaces the 6,000 sq. ft. WinField Product Development Center & Spray Analysis System.
The new facility will enhance WinField United's $50 million annual research commitment to helping farmers grow food more sustainably and productively as they work to feed a growing world population. This research will help farmers precisely and responsibly apply crop protection and nutrient products exactly where they're needed in the field.
"The WinField United Innovation Center further strengthens our research and development capabilities and our reputation as a leader in 21st-century agribusiness and innovation," said Chris Policinski, president and chief executive officer of Land O'Lakes Inc., WinField United's parent company. "The research and testing performed here will enable more targeted applications of crop protection products, which benefits both applicators and farmers. It also helps move the industry forward to achieve greater sustainability in land, water and air quality."
The increased space brings greater capacity to conduct product research on a variety of agricultural products, including adjuvants, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, plant nutrition and performance solutions and seed treatments.
A key piece of the innovation center is the Infinity Group, a spray application laboratory with some of the most advanced capabilities in the world. The Infinity Group uses state-of-the art technology, such as a wind tunnel, to evaluate the entire application process, including crop protection and adjuvant formulations, tank mixes, nozzle performance, spray characterization, drift and droplet deposition and plant uptake. Testing is performed in the laboratory and in both controlled and in-field environments. In the wind tunnel, spray application variables are tested using non-invasive diagnostic approaches to precisely measure droplet size and velocity.
"Before we bring products to a farmer's fields, we make sure they work in our fields first," said Mike Vande Logt, WinField United executive vice president and chief operating officer. "All of our products are developed with farmers top-of-mind. We apply the latest best practices in our research approach and have backed our commitment with a significant monetary investment in our new center. Our product development process is a stamp of approval that represents the comprehensive, rigorous, proven method we use to bring products and technologies to market."
WinField United said it is thrilled to continue creating innovative, quality products that deliver value to farmers through our commitment to excellence in data, science and technology and to be doing so in the River Falls community.
The center has a significant history in River Falls, enjoying a 27-year partnership with the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. It has hired interns and full-time employees from the university over the years and conducted a variety of research and field trials on university land. Land O'Lakes also has a significant presence in Wisconsin, employing 812 people at 14 locations throughout the state.