Worth the wait

by Arvin Donley
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When the new O.H. Kruse Feed Technology Innovation Center at Kansas State University (KSU) in Manhattan, Kansas, U.S., opens its doors in the late spring of 2013, it will be the realization of dream that began before most of the students currently in the school’s feed science program were born.
“This feed mill has been on the wish list for more than 20 years,” Keith Behnke, a retired instructor in the KSU feed science program, told World Grain.
Behnke explained that the reason it took so long to get the project off the ground was that no public funding was available, putting the burden on private donors and the feed industry.
“We would go to major potential donors and they would ask what the state of Kansas was putting into the facility,” Behnke said. “When we told them they’re donating the land, that didn’t impress anybody.”
The project might still be on hold, Behnke said, if not for the federal government in 2008 choosing the KSU campus as the site for the new National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), to be built by the Department of Homeland Security. The Animal Science facility is on the site where the NBAF is going to be located. To make room for the NBAF, the Animal Science department feed mill, which like the current Grain Science department feed mill is well beyond its useful life, has to be torn down, Behnke said.
“The key to the whole thing as far as I’m concerned is that the Animal Science department needed a new feed mill and the Grain Science department needed a new feed mill,” Behnke said. “The dean of agriculture at the time, Fred Cholick, said it made good sense to build one mill to accommodate both the grain science and animal science programs and needs, and directed the departments to do that.”
“If we can combine our needs and our resources, then we can get a heck of a feed mill instead of two substandard feed mills. As a result, the state stepped up with $5.2 million, which is one-third of the cost of the mill.”
The state of Kansas, Kansas Bioscience Authority, Kansas State University and its College of Agriculture along with other donors are providing $10.3 million in funding required for the new facility. An additional $3 million worth of equipment is needed for the facility and the majority of that has been donated by industry partners.
Several years ago, the O.H. Kruse family of Goshen, California, U.S., provided the lead gift of $2 million to honor the company founder, O.H. Kruse, and to stress the importance of educating and preparing the next generation of feed industry professionals.
The decision to build a single facility and combine feed-related activities of the departments of grain science and animal sciences was made to gain efficiencies and synergies for the benefit of the teaching, research and outreach programs of both departments and the College of Agriculture.
“The facility will be jointly managed and will provide research diets and supplements for all university animal units as well as serve as a teaching platform for all students studying feed science and animal nutrition,” said Ken Ohde, head of the department of animal sciences and industry at KSU.
The facility will serve as the new home of the feed science and management program, which has provided nearly 700 graduates to the U.S. feed manufacturing industry during the 60 years since the industry helped establish the program at KSU. In addition, several thousand domestic and international feed industry professionals have participated in educational short courses and seminars provided by the program.
“The new feed technology innovation center is one of KSU’s top priorities as we work to become a top-50 public research university by 2025,” said KSU President Kirk Schulz. “We are enthusiastic about the new facilities, which will benefit the industry as well as our students.”

Fred Fairchild, professor in the feed science program and project manager, said feed industry equipment manufacturers have been very generous in supporting the project.
“All the equipment in the mill needed to either be bought or donated, and almost all of it has been donated,” he said. “We have received well over $2 million worth of equipment donated. We only have about $300,000 right now that we have to pay for.”
The facility, which stands 142 feet tall — twice as tall as the Hal Ross Flour Mill located next to it — will include a modern, automated 5-tph production and teaching feed mill and a biosafety-level 2 teaching and research feed mill, referred to as the Cargill Feed Safety Research Center. The center will be designed so that scientists will be able to not only safely work with low-virulence pathogens like salmonella in feeds, but also use the facility for other research, teaching and outreach activities. The research center will feature a 1-tph CPM pelleting system equipped with a Wenger High Intensity Pre-Conditioner, Loss-in-Weight feeder system and a Bliss counterflow pellet cooler.
“Once built, it will be the only facility in the northern hemisphere where you can intentionally infect feed with live pathogens such as Salmonella, ecoli or whatever, and then process it to see what it takes to kill it,” Behnke said. “Obviously there is a need for this. When we talk to folks in the rendering industry, they really want us to get this built so they have someplace to get this kind of work done.”
He also noted that it will provide companies that sell microbial control chemicals with a place to obtain data to support their product development.
“It’s the old cliché: ‘If you build it, they will come,’” Behnke said. “I truly believe that once we get this thing built and functioning, it’s going to be very active and in demand.”
Besides food/feed safety, the mill can also conduct research in critical areas such as energy efficiency, feed quality and nutritional performance.
“The new mill is designed to accommodate nearly any type of processing research and data acquisition that is need by an industrial client or university scientist,” he said.
The mill will house processing equipment that will allow in-depth teaching of operational principles. For example, the facility will have a full-sized Bliss Industries hammermill and a RMS three-pair high roller mill for grinding research, teaching and production.
The main mill tower will feature two different batch mixers: a 1-tonne Hayes & Stolz Twin Rotor and a 1,000-pound Scott Twin Shaft paddle mixer that can be used for mixing studies and to provide specialty feeds on demand.
Behnke said the most important aspect of the new mill, as opposed to the current mill located in Shellenberger Hall, is that it will be fully automated.
“We will be able to walk out there with students and give them a real life-like experience of process control at a fairly high speed,” he said. “In a good year, we can make about 500 tonnes of feed on the current mill on campus. In the new mill, we’ll have the capability of producing about 6,000 tonnes of feed. The students’ experience as far as operating close to full-scale equipment is going to be much better.”
Dirk Maier, head of the grain science department at KSU, said he expects enrollment to climb in the feed science program, which has been between 40 to 50 undergraduate students during the past five years, as the result of having this new facility.
“Among our three undergraduate programs (feed milling, flour milling and baking), the feed program, in my opinion, has the largest potential for growth in the coming three to five years,” Maier said.

Sufficient space has been designed into the facility to allow for future equipment additions.
“Some of the lines are being set up now so that we can add in different types of equipment,” Fairchild said. “We can plug in a piece of equipment, put it on line and test it out, then take it out and plug in a different piece of equipment.”
Similarly, a planned feed science and education wing that is to house laboratories, offices, meeting rooms and a state-of-the-art pet food research center will be part of a second phase of the project.
“One area that has not been addressed in our department over the years that has become a very lucrative field is the production of pet foods and pet food research,” Fairchild said. “We have put together a stand-alone minor in petfood production.”
In addition to the processing operations, the mill will also contain corrugated grain bins for ingredient storage and for conducting large-scale grain storage and quality preservation research. All hopper-bottom steel bins are being donated by SCAFCO of Spokane, Washington, U.S.
Fairchild said a 20,000-bushel-capacity bin is currently being installed next to the facility and eventually a second 20,000-bushel-capacity bin and eight smaller bins will be added. A separate fundraising effort is currently under way in partnership with the Kansas Grain and Feed Association to complete that part of the facility as a turnkey project.
The preliminary design and cost estimates for the new feed technology innovation center were provided by Younglove Construction, Sioux City, Iowa, U.S. McCownGordon Construction, Kansas City, Missouri, U.S., is the design-builder, and ASI Industrial, Billings, Montana, U.S., was selected to slip the tower and install the processing equipment.
A university design team made up of faculty members and students from the feed science and animal science departments began working on the concept of a single facility more than two years ago.
“The design team worked with engineers and equipment vendors to identify specific machines that would meet our teaching, research and outreach needs,” said Dirk Maier, head of the department of grain science and industry at KSU. “We greatly appreciate the generous support and commitment of the many equipment suppliers that are partnering with us on this project.”