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University Farm

Illinois State University maintains a university farm to support teaching, research, and outreach activities of the Department of Agriculture. Illinois State University Farm is located near Lexington, Illinois approximately 18 miles northeast of Normal.

Current enterprises at the University Farm include corn, soybeans, alfalfa, swine, beef, and sheep. The farm currently has eight full-time employees in addition to numerous student employees.

Hands-On Experiences for Students

The main goal of the University Farm is to educate students. This is a critical function of the farm due to the limited farm experience of many students. Even though most of today's students won't be farm owners, hands-on-farming experience is an important part of their education and preparation for careers that directly relate to the production sector of agriculture.

Virtually all agricultural and agribusiness majors use the farm as part of their course work.

The University Farm also offers many employment opportunities for students. The farm manager, Russ Derango, is responsible for hiring and supervising student workers. Interested students may contact him at: (309) 365-2211.



The farm expands the Department's capability to do quality research. The amount of external funding generated to do research has increased and greater diversity of research projects will lead to more alliances with external partners, which in turn will lead to improved employment opportunities for graduates.

Several private companies have shown interest in collaborating in research in the new facilities.  Expanded industry linkages will be good for the industry, the University, the department and our students.



Composting at the University Farm provides a method of converting urban landscape waste into a product that is useful for both agriculture and urban uses. Adding urban landscape waste to animal manure allows waste streams from separate environments to produce useable compost. Click here for more information about composting at the University Farm, nutrient analysis of the compost, as well as useful brochures and video on composting.


Benefits to the Community

Research in waste management strategies benefits not only the school but also the community. The University Farm composts virtually all manure produced on the farm to reduce odor and environmental impact of livestock waste. Illinois State has developed partnerships with commercial enterprises to make the compost available to the public for use in lawns, gardens, and flower beds. 

The University Farm supports corporate educational initiatives. State Farm Insurance Company has used the farm to educate employees to conduct safety audits on farms. Crop protection companies such as Pioneer/DuPont and Mycogen/Dow use plots at the farm to educate employees about new products and weed identification. Several companies cooperate with the University Farm to demonstrate seed varieties and host field days for employees and customers. (The Peoria Journal Star, August 2001)

Opportunities for Alumni

We look forward to showing off the Lexington farm to alumni. Please stop by the farm if you are in the area.

Alumni partnerships are important to the future of the farm. Continuous needs for maintaining and upgrading the farm will be a never-ending cycle. Alumni or others interested in naming opportunities should contact Dr. Robert Rhykerd for further information.


Take Interstate 55 to the Lexington exit (exit 178). Proceed towards the town of Lexington (traveling east). At the stop sign, turn left. You will then be traveling north on County Highway 23. Travel over the interstate and take the next right. Follow this road to the new farm. (approximately 1/4 mile) The Lexington farm site is approximately 15 minutes from Normal.

See this location on the campus map.

Illinois State University

Department of Agriculture
Normal, Il 61790-5020
Phone: (309) 438-5654

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