Skip Navigation


Manhattan Plant Materials Center (KSPMC)
Serving areas in the States of Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma

Established: 1936
Size: 169.5 acres
PMC Operation: NRCS
Land Ownership: NRCS

Image of KSPMC technician starting the prescribed burn of a forb interseeding study plot.The Manhattan Plant Materials Center (KSPMC) develops plants and new plant technologies for America’s heartland. The Center offers services to a diverse region of the heartland including northeastern Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, and northern Oklahoma. The Center is located on sandy loam soil in the Kansas River Valley, southwest of Manhattan, Kansas. The primary objective of the Center is to develop plant materials and technology for conservation innovation.

Plant and technology development objectives of the KSPMC include water quality and soil health improvement, wildlife and pollinator habitat improvement, erosion protection, and plant development/seed production. The Center’s primary studies include work on the effects of seed quality and planting methods in native species stand establishment/enhancement, cover crop species performance, and varietal differences among cereal grain type cover crops.  The Center develops management and cultural techniques necessary for the establishment and acceptance of promising plant materials by the conservation community. The staff also produces limited quantities of breeder class seed and plants to stimulate commercial production of its releases.

The Manhattan Plant Materials Center has developed 30 improved conservation plants, including varieties of big bluestem, Indiangrass, switchgrass, sideoats grama, purple prairie clover, and little bluestem.



  • Multiple statistically sound studies to address field office identified needs for regionally relevant guidance on cover crop species performance, seeding rate and establishment methods. These studies will provide conservation planners the foundation they need to deliver the best possible advice and guidance to NRCS customers and Farm Bill Program participants in pursuit of their soil health and sustainability goals.


  • The KSPMC is evaluating methods to optimize the success of establishing forbs in existing grass lands.  This effort includes both management of the existing vegetation as well as seeding methods and treatment of the forb seed prior to planting.


  • The KSPMC hosts prescribed burn training for NRCS Rangeland Specialists to obtain the required certification to plan prescribed burns, a management practice that is vital to the ecology of the locally abundant but nationally scarce tallgrass prairie found in the Flinthills region of Kansas.


  • The KSPMC is expanding its production of difficult to obtain yet critically important forb variety releases to support the expansion of pollinator habitat in the surrounding region.
  • KSPMC developed germination and propagation methodology for the federally threatened native plant species Mead’s milkweed. KSPMC worked with USFWS Marais des Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge to increase the Mead’s milkweed population in Kansas.
  • Improving stand establishment and drought tolerance in sand bluestem through technology transfer in the Crop Science journal article Field Emergence and Plant Density of Sand Bluestem Lines Selected for Increased Seed Germination.

Manhattan Plant Materials Center
3800 S. 20th St.
Manhattan, KS 66502-9535
Phone: (785) 539-8761
Fax: (785) 539-2034