Transforming Agriculture, Perennially

Visit the Land Institute

Where We Are

Here is the Smoky Hill River watershed and rocks ranging from the Wellington Formation to the Dakota Formation.

Here is a grassland ecosystem, where diverse mixtures of perennial grasses and forbs co-evolved with humans and other animals through fire and grazing.

Here is land usurped from the Kaw, Pawnee, Osage, and other Indigenous peoples, whose ancestors farmed in the river bottomlands, who still exist and persist in dynamic relationships to their homelands, homelands which were also home to hundreds of thousands of bison, countless other mammals, reptiles, birds, invertebrates, all fed by the prairies that helped hold and build soils.

Here is grain agriculture and farming communities, including the city of Salina, Kansas, as a regional trading center, with Euro-American colonization and industrialization featuring widespread tillage into annual agricultural systems.

Here is The Land Institute, founded in 1976. Here we as agricultural researchers benefit from access to land, knowledge, and resources gained due to settler colonialism and other ongoing systems of oppression. Here we commit to responsibly repairing harm and building mutually beneficial relationships with members of the land community across the ecosphere.

Weekly Scientist-Led Tours

Fridays at 10:00am, March 1st-November 18th


What to expect: We offer weekly tours every Friday at 10:00 a.m.* The tour lasts approximately 60-90 minutes. Tours are led by a member of our research team and cover our seven research programs, history, and local and global impact. The guided walking tour meets at the main office before heading to the Wauhob Prairie Overlook of our research plots, then continuing through our campus to the research buildings and greenhouses.

Tours are free: to reserve a spot, please use the form above to let us know you’re coming so we can best accommodate your group. We are also happy to host large groups – our tour coordinator, Amanda Wagner, will contact you to ensure we can accommodate your group’s size and visit type appropriately.

Tour season: Our Friday tour series runs from March 1st through November 18th. *Please note: Tours are not available during major holidays, as well as the week before, the week of, and the week after Prairie Festival.

Field Trips: We’d love to host you and your students. For scheduling and details, contact Amanda Wagner at:


Marty Bender Nature Area

Beginning at Prairie Festival 2019, The Land Institute is pleased to officially welcome the public to visit our Marty Bender Nature Area. Located one mile north of The Land Institute’s main grounds, the 206-acre nature area features a three-mile-long trail through prairie and woods along the Smoky Hill River. The Land Institute also has several scientific research plots on the site. Additional features include art installations, plant and wildlife viewing, a tree swing and picnic area, scenic overlooks of the river and Salina region, and a community book share box.

With the generous support of private philanthropists, The Land Institute acquired the nature area property in 2002 from the trust of Oliver Haag. Farmers and ranchers used “Haag Place” in the past. In 2004, The Land Institute named the property in commemoration of Marty Bender, former energy scientist at The Land Institute, who was also a naturalist. In 2018, local volunteers and friends of The Land Institute designed and made the trail in collaboration with institute staff. In addition, they milled local Osage orange wood for benches and signage along the route. As a site for research, education, and community engagement, the nature area has since hosted events such as tours, community work days, and Ecosphere Studies workshops.

We post nature guidelines at the entrance. To share ideas, or to ask questions, contact

Trail Map

See a virtual tour of Marty Bender Nature Area

Prairie Festival

Our annual Prairie Festival is held the last full weekend of September at The Land Institute’s home place outside Salina, Kansas. It offers a unique opportunity to listen to presentations in the Big Barn and interact with some of the world’s most compelling authors, thinkers, artists, and advocates focused on agriculture, food, the environment, science, sustainability, and social and environmental justice.

In addition, our science staff provides tours and an in-depth update on our plant breeding and ecology work and partnerships. There’s excellent food (some featuring perennial ingredients), music, art, the Hedge Fire Circle, sunrise yoga, and always a few surprises. Keep an eye on our Festival page for upcoming speakers and registration (which usually opens in July).

Learn more

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