Cheerios manufacturer General Mills and South Dakota State University have opened a state-of-the-art oat variety development lab on campus focused on advancing the sustainability and quality of oats in the US.

 “Our company has made a public commitment to source 100 percent of our oats by 2020 from growing regions that demonstrate continuous improvement against industry-based environmental metrics,” says Jim Kirkwood, vice president and chief science and technology development officer at General Mills. “Having a venerable institution like SDSU as a partner will allow us to do more innovative oat breeding research in the labs and fields – and get us to that goal.”

The new facility includes labs, greenhouses and access to field trials. General Mills agronomists and plant breeders will work alongside the university’s plant science department comprised of plant breeders, grain scientists, seed experts, environmental scientists, field station managers and student researchers. Together, their efforts will focus on improving the nutritional qualities of oats; developing better performing oat varieties with higher yields; and helping farmers improve agronomy practices to increase sustainability.