The Wait is Over

by Arvin Donley
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Twenty years after the plan to build a new feed mill on the Kansas State University (KSU) campus was conceived, the vision finally became reality on Oct. 11 when the O.H. Kruse Feed Technology Innovation Center was dedicated at KSU’s Grain Science Complex in Manhattan, Kansas, U.S.

It was well worth the wait, according to project manager and KSU Feed Science Professor Emeritus Fred Fairchild.

“There’s not another mill like this on a university campus in the world that I know of,” Fairchild said. “It represents a full-size mill, with a small milling capacity, but a full-size facility that also includes a feed safety research center inside it.”

About 400 people attended the dedication, including nearly 20 members of the Kruse family, whose lead donation of $2 million helped launch fundraising for the $16 million facility, which will be utilized by both the feed science and animal sciences programs.

“I want to express my appreciation for the Kruse family which provided the initial generous gift,” KSU President Kirk Schulz said at the ceremony. “Any time you do this kind of project you need somebody to step up on faith and provide a little bit of support and encouragement and vision to make something happen. Without that initial gift, none of the rest of this would have taken place.”

The facility serves as the new home of the feed science and management program, which has provided more than 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 through the International Grains Program.

Fairchild said the feed mill has been on KSU’s Department of Grain Science and Industry wish list for two decades, but the project could never get off the ground because of a lack of public funding and the inability to find a lead private donor.

He said the project might still be on hold 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 old Animal Sciences feed mill was on the site where the NBAF is being built. To make room for the NBAF, the Animal Sciences and Industry department feed mill, which like the Grain Science and Industry department feed mill in Shellenberger Hall, was well beyond its useful life.

So with both programs needing a new feed mill, the state of Kansas stepped in with $5.2 million, which provided a major boost. The rest of the nearly $13 million in funding was accounted for by the Kruse family, other private donors, corporate donors, the Kansas Bioscience Authority, Kansas State University, and the Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station. An additional $3 million worth of equipment was donated and discounted by industry partners.

Ron Kruse, son of O.H. Kruse, who founded O.H. Kruse Grain & Milling in 1935 in California, joked about having to wait six years after making the lead donation to see the project come to fruition. “I was wondering if it was really going to happen. I never lost faith; I was just hoping it was going to happen in my lifetime,” Ron Kruse said, drawing laughter from the audience. “But it did and we are awfully happy to say we are proud of it.”

Ron Kruse graduated from KSU with a feed technology degree in 1962 and is owner and CEO of Western Milling LLC, Goshen California, U.S.

In the early 1950s, O.H. Kruse was asked by the American Feed Manufacturing Association to donate money toward the establishment of a feed technology program and facility at Kansas State. As a high school student, Ron Kruse visited Kansas State with his father in the mid-1950s to learn more about the feed technology program his father had helped fund. He said the feed mill in Shellenberger Hall at that time was “new and exciting.”

“That feed mill in those days, to me, was a Taj Mahal,” Ron Kruse said.

That’s exactly how current students feel about the new O.H. Kruse Feed Technology Innovation Center. Cole Rickabaugh, an undergraduate student in KSU’s feed science and management program, told the audience at the dedication ceremony that the new facility is a dream come true for students.

“The center is above and beyond what we could have asked for,” he said. “We’ll get to come in here and see a regular process of feed manufacturing, see how the different equipment works, and most importantly do research trials, especially with Salmonella, E. coli, and different things that the industry is drastically needing.”

Feed Safety Research Center

The facility, which stands 142 feet tall — twice as tall as the Hal Ross Flour Mill located next to it — includes a modern, automated 5-tph production and teaching feed mill and a biosafety-level 2 teaching and research mill, referred to as the Cargill Feed Safety Research Center.

The feed safety research center is 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. It features 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.

Representing Cargill at the dedication was Rob Sheffer, Group Director for Animal Nutrition, who said the facility will ensure that valuable research for the industry in feed and food safety is available.

“Feed and food ingredients are critical parts of the food safety system because global food systems are complex and spread across a vast supply chain from production to consumption,” he said. “It is so important to take a broad, comprehensive science-based approach to assure safety and integrity for feed and food.”

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 needed by an industrial client or university scientist,” said Dirk Maier, department head of grain science and industry.

State-of-the-Art Equipment

In building the feed mill, the focus was placed on flexibility to accommodate new equipment and prototypes as they are being developed for current and future students.

The mill houses processing equipment that will allow in-depth teaching of operational principles. For example, the facility has a full-sized Bliss Industries hammermill and a RMS three-high roller mill for grinding research, teaching and production.

The main mill tower features 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.

In addition to processing operations, the mill will eventually contain several corrugated bins for ingredient storage and for conducting large-scale grain storage and quality preservation research. All hopper-bottom steel bins were donated by SCAFCO of Spokane, Washington, U.S. Fairchild said in addition to the 20,000-bushel-capacity bin that has been installed next to the facility, a second 20,000-bushel bin and eight smaller bins will eventually be added by SCAFCO.

Sufficient space has been designed into the facility to allow for future equipment additions. Also, 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 the 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 aimed at attracting additional students into our department.”

Not only will the highly automated, state-of-the-art facility draw more students to the feed science program and garner more interest in the short course program, it already attracted top-notch faculty, Maier said.

He noted that Dr. Carlos Campabadal joined the International Grains Program nearly two years ago. He received his Ph.D. from Purdue University and leads the feed manufacturing and grain management continuing education curriculum. Dr. Cassie Jones joined the department in August 2012. She received her Ph.D. from Iowa State University and is focusing her research on feed safety and the effects of processing on animal nutrition. Dr. Charles Stark, who graduated from KSU in 1994 with a PhD in grain science, recently returned to his alma mater to serve as faculty coordinator of the O.H. Kruse Feed Technology Innovation Center. Stark had been at North Carolina State University where he was assistant professor and extension specialist in the Prestage Department of Poultry Science. During his 20 years in the feed industry, Stark has provided audit and technical support training to over 33 feed mills in eight different countries.

Upon arriving at KSU in August, Stark, who was appointed as the Jim and Carol Brown Endowed Associate Professor of Feed Technology, said the feed science program was “at a crossroads in history with this unique faculty position.”

“The opening of the O.H. Kruse Feed Technology Innovation Center will allow faculty and staff to build upon the rich tradition of both (animal sciences and feed science) departments, while creating new and exciting programs that will provide global leadership and help feed 9 billion people by 2050.”

Maier added that one open faculty position will be filled in early 2014 to complete the feed faculty team.

Aiding KSU’s Research Goal

Maier noted that although the feed mill was supposed to be the first facility built in the Grain Science Complex, there were actually three other buildings — the Bioprocessing and Industrial Value-Added Products Innovation Center, International Grains Program Conference Center and Hal Ross Flour Mill — erected before it because of the difficulty in acquiring funding for the feed mill project. Additionally, the new Kansas Wheat Innovation Center has been incorporated.

He said the completion of the new feed mill is another step in helping KSU achieve its goal of being recognized as one of the top 50 public research universities in the United States by 2025.

McCownGordon Construction, Kansas City, Missouri, U.S., was general contractor for the project.

O.H. Kruse Feed Technology Innovation Center Corporate Donors

Here is a list of companies who made financial donations, donated equipment or sold equipment to KSU at a reduced cost.


ASI Industrial

BS&B Pressure Safety Management

Belstra Milling Company


Bliss Industries



CMC Industrial Electronics

California Pellet Mill (CPM)

Cardinal Scale Mfg.

ConAgra Foods Foundation

Countryside Feed

EBM Manufacturing

Farmway Coop

Feed Energy


Foss North America

Gold’n Plump Farms

Hayes and Stolz Industrial Mfg.

Hutchinson/Mayrath-A Division of Global Industries

InterStates Control Systems


JEM International/Express Scale Parts

KC Supply

Key Feeds

Kice Industries

Land O’Lakes Foundation

Land O’Lakes Purina

Law-Marot Milro

Lortscher Agri Servic

Maljohn Company

Maxi Lift/Southwest Agri-Plastics

Micro Tracers

Novus International

Omega Ten

OPI Systems

Pepper Maintenance Systems

Phibro Animal Health

Piping Contractors of Kansas

Power Flame Inc.

RCI Safety

RMS Roller Grinder


Salina Vortex

Scott Equipment

Screw Conveyor

Seedburo Equipment

Sentry Equipment

Southern States Cooperative

Superior Boiler Works


The Lakeland Companies

Union Special

Venture Measurement

Vibco Vibrators

Wenger Manufacturing

Younglove Construction