Tour groups can see how agricultural research facilities at Iowa State University in Ames and attractions in Des Moines showcase the latest technology.

When you think of farming, what comes to mind? If it’s not GPS systems, research analysis, state-of-the-art equipment and biotechnology, it’s time to change your mindset! Get ready to learn more than you thought possible about the food you eat. With the agricultural innovation coming out of Ames and Des Moines, this area claims to be the “bio headquarters of the world.”

Iowa State University in Ames is a key player in agriculture education. See for yourself on the BioCentury Research Farm, where you will learn about the integration of biomass production, harvest, storage and conversion into one complete system. You also get the opportunity to see on-site plots of biomass crops and biorenewable processing facilities.

Pay a visit to the ISU Meats Laboratory, a federally inspected facility where you can see the latest design in thermal process equipment. View an analysis of the physical and chemical properties of meat and observe the slaughter house floor where beef, pork, lamb and veal are all processed. An Iowa State University Animal Science Teaching Farms tour includes several farm sites used for hands-on classes and demonstrations of the production systems with livestock such as beef cattle, sheep and swine.

At Iowa State University Dairy, learn just how milk makes its way from the farm to your table. As part of Iowa State’s Live Green! Initiative, the animal farms, ISU dining and BioCentury Research Farm provide organic materials for the Iowa State Compost Facility, which generates approximately 2,000 tons of finished compost per year.

Iowa State University Ag Engineering and Agronomy (AEA) Research Farms host demonstrations focusing on a variety of perennial crops. Witness more than 1,200 acres of intensive plot research, plus corn, soybean, oat, sorghum and biomass perennial crop demonstrations. Iowa State University Horticulture Station has a broad variety of research on its extensive apple orchards, vineyards, fruit and vegetable plantings, turf grass research, ornamental plantings and a 15-acre lake.

Have your group see why Des Moines is leading the nation in both agriculture and biotechnology. The city is home to many world headquarters for agriculture and biotech companies—many of which offer group tours—and to a precision-farm learning center, Monsanto Learning Center, which is the only one of its kind in the world.

Des Moines is also home to TheWorld Food Prize. Conceived by Iowan Dr. Norman E. Borlaug (recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize), The World Food Prize honors individuals who have made vital contributions to improving the quality, quantity or availability of food. Explore exhibits at the Hall of Laureates, including The History of Agriculture Timelineand The Greatest Global Challenge: How we will feed nearly 9 billion people by the year 2050. While you’re here, enjoy gardens, murals, photo galleries and learn the awe-inspiring stories of Iowa’s world-renowned scientists and leaders who have been named World Food Prize Laureates.

Also in Des Moines isthe Downtown Farmers’ Market, ranked No. 2 in the nation. Iowa producers from 58 counties across Iowa offer fresh fruit, vegetables, wine, cheese, baked goods, meat and more every Saturday, May through October.