Growing up on an Iowa farm, tractors and combines and plows are just a part of your life. Their constant thrum and the smell of diesel blends into the background. You don’t think about where those monster machines came from or who decided how a planter should fit together.
But a visit to the recently-opened Kinze Innovation Center will remind you just how much technology and creativity goes into one of Iowa’s oldest industries.
Kinze Manufacturing is an Iowa-based, family-owned company that started as Jon Kinzenbaw’s small-town welding shop and is now one of the world’s leading manufacturers of planters and grain carts. The Innovation Center is located at the company headquarters just off I-80 between Williamsburg and Ladora. If you’ve ever driven this stretch of interstate, you’ve probably seen their aerial agricultural “sculptures:” a grain cart stack and rotating planter.
Much like these sculptures, the exhibits inside the building are awe-inspiring to a wide range of visitors, from farmers who have been using Kinze machinery for years to those who don’t know the first thing about planting corn.
After a short video about the various inventions and patents created by Kinze – which will make you believe Jon Kinzenbaw has the most common sense of any person ever – you’ll get to browse the displays which include Kinze grain carts, plows, tractors and “Big Blue” – a massive, Kinze-designed twin engine tractor.
Kid-friendly interactive displays allow you to browse the company’s timeline, watch Kinze products in action inside a grain bin video dome and build your own Kinze grain cart – complete with a brontosaurus grain chute and monster truck wheels.
For the serious agricultural buffs, you can get an up-close look at Kinze’s grain carts and planters, check out the “Tractor of the Season” – a rotating display of antique tractors from Jon Kinzenbaw’s personal collection – and check out Kinze’s newest innovations like the autonomy project (or, what I call robot tractors).
The Kinze Innovation Center is free to visit and open Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call in advance to schedule group tours and tours of the entire Kinze factory.
Iowa Tourism Office