K-State, Compass Minerals Sign Research Agreement

Partnership aims to accelerate plant nutrition technologies to improve grower practices in Kansas.

Published online: May 03, 2018 News
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Kansas State University and Compass Minerals Plant Nutrition are joining forces to explore innovative plant nutrient products, technologies and opportunities to influence and advance grower practices and grower efficiency.

Compass develops and manufactures a diverse, global portfolio of innovative plant nutrition solutions. The company’s comprehensive product line allows growers to apply plant nutrition in whatever form delivers it most effectively, with products that range from dry powders and granular forms to water-soluble applications. The company recently signed a master research agreement with Kansas State University. This agreement lays the groundwork for future collaborations by providing standard contract terms for research projects. 

“We are excited to partner with Compass Minerals Plant Nutrition in the development and support of innovative nutrient products that will benefit Kansas agriculture,” says Gary Pierzynski, department head and university distinguished professor of agronomy at Kansas State University.

Pierzynski says agronomy researchers are interested in working with the company in two ways. One is to pursue basic research that will lead to the development of new products comprising the next generation of more efficient nutrient products; the other is to evaluate existing and new products under Kansas conditions and with crops grown in Kansas
“Our partnership with Compass is another example of K-State working with the industry to help farmers be more efficient, sustainable and profitable,” Pierzynski says.

Compass Minerals Plant Nutrition, a division of Compass Minerals, headquartered in Overland Park, Kan., finds value in partnering with the university to further its ongoing research and development efforts. The company recently opened a North American Innovation Center in the Midwest Bioscience Research Park in Stilwell, Kan., which is dedicated to the development of plant nutrition technologies. The company also has a center in Iracemopolis, Brazil, which opened in 2017. 

“Our goal is to directly influence farmer growing practices through science,” says Ryan Bartlett, vice president of innovation and product development at Compass Minerals. “In the world of agriculture research and development, the lion’s share of funding has consistently gone toward advanced breeding techniques, developing transgenics and crop protection products. With the help of K-State, we’re working to compound the gains realized with those innovations by developing similar advances in plant nutrition.” 

Kansas State University emphasizes industry collaboration and has seen an 80 percent increase in the number of industry-funded projects in the last five years. According to Peter Dorhout, vice president for research, the university strives for a nimble approach to project engagement by creating enduring, strategic alliances through master agreements.

“Our record of negotiating master agreements with industry demonstrates our commitment to making it easier to do research with direct applications to promote economic growth in Kansas and the surrounding region,” says Dorhout.

Ganga Hettiarachchi and Dorivar Ruiz Diaz, both agronomy professors at Kansas State, look forward to working with Compass. Hettiarachchi said she values the opportunity to integrate basic and applied research to find solutions for sustainable agriculture and food production systems.

“This may lead to new innovations that help improve and manage soil fertility,” Hettiarachchi says.

Ruiz Diaz says Kansas State offers nationally and internationally competitive researchers with well-developed networks to disseminate information. 

“K-State has a strong working relationship with farmers and agronomists through K-State Research & Extension, and with the common goal of implementing the right technology while maintaining sustainability and soil quality,” he says.

Compass Minerals Plant Nutrition will be one of several companies featured at the 2018 K-State Research Showcase, which will provide prospective industry partners an opportunity to connect with researchers. The event will be May 16 at K-State Olathe; find more information or register at k-state.edu/researchshowcase.