The northern Iowa town of Osage is the chosen site for a 20-million dollar demonstration plant to produce a highly-digestible feed product from excess corn stover. Stover Ventures was formed in 2015 by Ag Ventures Alliance Cooperative of Mason City and Cellulose Sciences International of Madison, Wisconsin. Jude Conway is the executive director of Ag Ventures Alliance says the high energy, high value forage is used in dairy cow and beef cattle diets and offers both economical and practical benefits.
He says they started out trying to find a way to make a high-quality forage, but what they discovered over time is that there’s also some very valuable antioxidants and anti-fungal material that they can extract. “That’s what makes this so promising, it’s because those things are very valuable, even though it’s a small percentage of the total weight of the stover,” Conway says.
Those antioxidants can be used in multiple industries including skin care, food and beverage ingredients, and food and feed industry preservatives. Conway says one of the key reasons the Osage site was selected was because of the number of cattle in the surrounding area.
The feed will primarily be fed to cattle. “We wanted someplace that had some cattle around there so we didn’t have to ship it too far,” he says. “There’s quite a bit of cattle in Mitchell County and to the northeast of there and southeast of there, so that was quite a big factor.”
He says the “can-do” attitude around Osage they saw was important to the company. Conway hopes this will be the first of several plants they’re able to build in the state.
He says they think they can put several of these types of plants around the state over the next ten years. “It’s not only the feed that we’re getting out of it and the anti-oxidants, but we’re also providing more income for the farmers, they get one more product out of their corn this way. That’s a good thing.”
The plant will be located on a 10-acre parcel in the Osage Northwest Industrial Park. Construction is scheduled to start in the second quarter of next year with production being launched in early 2019, creating about 15 jobs.
(story courtesy of Radio Iowa/KRIB)