Two friends share a beverage after a long day and during the discussion one of them asks, “I wonder if there’s a way to get more value out of my wheat midds?” On the surface, it seems like an innocent query to a common problem faced by wheat processors.
However, that simple question served as the genesis of an idea which has such far-reaching implications for processors, feed manufacturers, researchers, livestock operators, and even those involved in the economic development arena.
If you are a betting man, the odds that this comment would capture the attention of such a diverse group of stakeholders would be very slim. Slim that is, unless the person on the receiving end of the comment is Dr. Vern Anderson.
Dr. Anderson is an animal scientist with North Dakota State University, who’s headquartered out of NDSU’s Carrington Research Extension Center, Carrington, ND, and has been thinking about that question for some time now.
“The more I thought about the different possibilities for including midds in a ration, the more I started thinking about other co-products and the values they bring to a ration,” Anderson recalls. “The question in my mind then became, ‘What if instead of utilizing co-products as an additive component, they were combined to create a new class of feedstock?’ With a seemingly endless supply of co-products at our disposal, as a researcher, it seemed to me like a concept that warranted further development,” he adds.
A nutrient stew
If you think the search for nutrient-rich co-products and components ends with wheat midds, you would be wrong. Actually, Dr. Anderson has been working with a wide array of products ranging from beet tailings to DDGS to malt barley sprouts, for years. Better yet, these and other ingredients are readily available as North Dakota is blessed with a very diverse crop base.
Dr. Anderson needed help in getting this project going, so logically, he turned to a familiar resource, the Northern Crops Institute (NCI).
“Because of our agricultural diversity, we [NCI] have worked with many co-products to assay their nutrient value and relative feed value,” says Kim Koch Ph.D., feed production center manager, Northern Crops Institute, Fargo, ND. “Along with primary crops such as corn, barley, field peas and wheat, these co-products offer a nearly unlimited number of combinations for creating a feedstock with exceptional nutrient value. The trick is putting it all together in a formulation that is efficient, cost-effective and delivers end-user value.”
In other words, the time had come to give this concept more structure, expertise and more importantly, financial support, from a wider stakeholder base.
From idea to initiative
Fortunately for Anderson and Koch, their search for support and structure kept them near Fargo and Carrington, with the addition of Steve Edwardson, the executive administrator of the North Dakota Barley Council, Fargo; and Donald Frye, economic development consultant for Ottertail Power Co., and the mayor of Carrington, to the team.
As the group prepared to move forward, the project was given a formal name as the Central Dakota Feeds Initiative (CDFI). As Edwardson recalls, the next task was to create and memorialize objectives and a working plan to move the project ahead.
“Our mission statement says the CDFI exists essentially to develop value-added feed products that are regionally manufactured utilizing co-products with local, regional, national and international market potential,” says Edwardson. “The Initiative’s goal is to determine the potential for expanding utilization and acceptance of these unique feed products.
“If successful, the Initiative stands to bring a great benefit to North Dakota grain producers and processors and bolster the local economies where these people live and work,” Edwardson notes.