BROOKINGS, SOUTH DAKOTA, U.S. — Prairie AquaTech, an aquaculture feed producer, is set to build a 300,000-square-foot soybean processing plant in Volga, South Dakota, U.S., according to theBrookings Register.

According to the newspaper, the $60 million project is a collaborative effort between Prairie AquaTech, South Dakota State University and the Brookings Economic Development Corp.

“For projects of this magnitude, it really takes a village to make it happen,” Mark Luecke, managing director and chief executive officer of Prairie AquaTech, told the Brookings Register.

Luecke described Prairie AquaTech as “a very unique facility” that uses “large fermentation tanks where we’ve taken the work that SDSU did in small, little flasks and we’ve now scaled it up to these big fermentation tanks.”

Mark Luecke ceo and managing director of Prairie Aquatech
Mark Luecke, managing director and chief executive officer of Prairie AquaTech.
Photo courtesy of Prairie AquaTech.
“Essentially what we’re doing is fermenting soybean meal,” he said. “We buy soybean meal from South Dakota Soybean Processors in Volga. They have a plant down in Miller that produces non-genetically modified meal. We ferment that. And on site, we also have a small feed mill. That allows us to take our ingredients and mix them with other ingredients and pelletize that into a fish feed.”

The feed is then used to test AquaTech’s protein-rich ingredient to ensure its compatability as a vital component of a final fish-feed product.

Luecke told the Brookings Register that the facility, once completed, will be able to produce about 30,000 tons of a major component that will go into pellets that also contain vitamins, minerals and oils. The pellets then will go to fish farms, he said.

The fermentation process at AquaTech’s current facility is done in several 2,000-gallon tanks. At the new plant, the process will take place in 40,000-gallon tanks. That will drive a big demand for soybean meal from one of Prairie AquaTech’s partners — South Dakota Soybean Processors — which Luecke said produced about 700,000 tons on an annual basis.