Ever wondered what goes into creating a state of the art agricultural facility? Get ready to be enlightened as Dirk Maier, a globally recognized professor at Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering of Iowa State University, takes us on deep dive of the Iowa State University Kent Feed-Mill and Grain Science Complex. This isn’t just your regular mill and grain elevator; it stands as a beacon of innovation and education. It is a game changer for the global grain industry. We’ll dig into the strategic location, the innovative components and its incredible potential to impact the industry on a global scale.

This complex isn’t just about grain, it’s about people too. Beyond the state of the art infrastructure, we’ll discuss the opportunities it presents to students of Iowa State, the role it plays in continuing education and extension programs, and its power to elevate global grain industry awareness. You’ll also get an insight into the crucial role funding played in making this project a reality, the generous contribution of the Kent Corporation family, and other major contributors. Join us for an episode that promises to feed your curiosity and give you a fresh perspective on the future of the grain industry.

Grain Elevator and Processing Society champions, connects and serves the global grain industry and its members. Be sure to visit GEAPS’ website to learn how you can grow your network, support your personal professional development, and advance your career. Thank you for listening to another episode of GEAPS’ Whole Grain podcast.

Inside the Iowa State University Kent Feed Mill and Grain Science Complex

Host Jim Lenz Host 00:03 In this episode of Whole Grain, we’ll provide a comprehensive overview of the new state-of-the-art facility, the Iowa State University Kent Feed Mill and Grain Science Complex. You’ll understand how this new facility not only will make a positive impact on the local, state and regional level, but it’s also intended to positively impact the global grain industry. All that and more coming up next. Hey folks, welcome grain professionals to this episode of Whole Grain. My name is Jim Lenz, your host of the Whole Grain show and the director of global training and education at GEAPS, where the mission of the grain elevator and processing societies to champion, connect and serve the global grain industry and our members At GEAPS. We work to be the global community and thought leader for the grain industry, which feeds and fuels the world. Thanks for listening today and for joining the network of thousands of the grain handling and processing professionals across the globe taking strategic steps to grow professionally. The Whole Grain show will give you the competitive advantage to when at work, so you can make more of an impact. We really do. Thank you for listening and sharing the Whole Grain podcast show with others in your network. It makes a difference. Please continue to do so. This show is not quite at the ear mark of existence and at the time of this recording, we already have listeners from 51 different countries. You can find this show on your favorite podcast app. Do a search for Whole Grain and be sure to hit the subscribe button. That way, you can catch up on all the past shows and when new episodes are released, you’ll be the first to listen to them, as they’ll be available on your device. If you find this show helpful in supporting what you do and bringing in fresh perspectives to the industry, please consider giving us a rating and leave us a comment on your podcast app. That really supports what we do and engages others in the industry. We already have several five star ratings on Apple podcasts. Thanks for your support and if you have an inquiry, please reach out to me at james@geaps.com. This is an exciting show, as I was invited to the recent dedication of the Iowa State University Kent Feed Mill and Grain Science Complex. In the interview you’re about to listen to took place on site at the complex. Just minutes before the dedication of the new facility, I met with Dirk Maier. Dirk is a globally recognized professor of Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering and a global grain consultant. Dirk, along with just a couple other colleagues, leads and manages the complex. They are also joined by Iowa State University students, undergrads, students working on their master’s degree and those students pursuing a doctorate degree. These students help in the operation of the complex. They also use the complex as a resource to further their education. The episode explores the complex’s location, significance, the key components of the complex and its pivotal role in academic programs and research. The guest highlight its potential to prepare the next generation of industry professionals and its broader contribution to Iowa’s agriculture industry and global agricultural education. Additionally, they acknowledge the essential role of funding and partnerships in making this innovative project a reality. 03:19 Let’s get started! We have Dirk Mayer today. He’s a very well connected individual within the green industry market. He’s delivered presentations, offered educational programs and offered consultant services to cream professionals really around the world. He’s a professor in the Department of Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering at Iowa State University and he is the director of the Iowa State University Kent Fee-Mill and Grain Science Complex. I’m excited to welcome him to the show. Thank you, dirk, for being part of our program. It’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me Now. This is a very exciting day today for Iowa State University, on the date we are recording this episode, which is September 8th of 2023, we are literally just minutes away from the dedication of new Iowa State University, kent Fee-Mill and Grain Science Complex, a world-class state-of-the-art facility. How excited are you, dirk, and what are you feeling right now? Dr. Dirk Maier Guest 04:22 Oh, very excited. We spent literally the last eight years working on this project. That’s the primary reason I was invited to come to Iowa State University so to be able to see this project come to fruition and celebrate with all of our friends and colleagues and partners in the industry. It’s an exciting day for us. Host Jim Lenz Host 04:42 Well, we are excited for you. Can you tell our whole grain listeners a little bit about your journey, or about the journey here? What was the original vision for the complex? What were some of those big milestones, as you think back, to get us to where we are today, preparing for the dedication program of the Iowa State University, kent Fee-Mill and Grain Science Complex? Dr. Dirk Maier Guest 05:05 So the original vision was pretty much what you see today built. The uniqueness of the facility is that it’s intended to serve both the grain handling and industry, as well as the feed manufacturing industry Two big industries here in Iowa, in the region and, of course, throughout the United States and the world, and we want to make sure that our facilities are built to serve both audiences and those of you who are, of course, familiar with Jeeps and what you stand for right. We want to make sure that we have a facility that represents the capabilities that a typical grade-hailing facility needs to have from receiving to drying, to storing, to cleaning, to blending and that we can utilize it for teaching, training, research purposes, and that’s what we built here and that’s one component that makes this facility very unique. Host Jim Lenz Host 05:56 So special, great. So I’m talking a little bit about the construction design process. It’s a special place. Can you describe the significance of the location first of all? Dr. Dirk Maier Guest 06:06 Well, the significance of the location is that this type of facility was really missing at Iowa State University. When you look at the grain and feed industry in the US, just at the data, purely at the data, and if you ignored geography and just said hey, where is the concentration of grain production, where’s the concentration of animal feed utilization? You built it right here, and so we are in the sweet spot of the industry and this is the new bullseye in terms of what this facility will do for the industry in its future Super and speaking of what it will do, this is an audio program, of course. Host Jim Lenz Host 06:46 It’s not a video program, so they’re not able to see it. But if you could, can you describe some of the main components to grain science content? Dr. Dirk Maier Guest 06:54 Yes, main components, of course, is the grain facility where we’ll be able to receive wet corn during the harvest season. Most of that will come from the ISU farms. We farm quite a bit of acreage here. We will have capability of drying at a reasonable capacity of a couple thousand bushels an hour. We’ll be able to store roughly about 200,000 bushels here on site, which will be perhaps a third of what we end up needing for feed manufacturing when we get to full capacity. But it allows us to keep grain in the bins for the purpose of grain storage and drying and handling and monitoring and testing and teaching and training experiences for our students and our industry partner and industry professionals as our members of Jeeps, and will allow us to utilize grain out of there. But we don’t have to constantly empty it. We can keep grain in there if and when we do certain studies or certain trainings, and so it’s built with as much flexibility as we could think of at the time for the intended purposes. Host Jim Lenz Host 08:04 Wonderful. Now we are in between a couple events here on this special day. The dedication ceremony is coming up in just a minute or an hour or so away. We just concluded a nice luncheon for those who helped put this together Companies and we recognize it with certificate, which is fabulous, and you shared insights with the whole group here of the value that they added to this, and a big thanks to them. That’s so nice Now. The next step then is to the role in education. With this facility, I can imagine how this will significantly prepare the next generation of industry professionals. We’ll have a connection with real world learning to students, of course, and can you kind of explain the role of the complex and academic programs and research now and in the future? Dr. Dirk Maier Guest 08:52 Well, first, of course, the first impetus was the feet manufacturing and feet technology side, and that’s really where the original needs were identified, both with regard to what we need. 09:05 At Iowa State we have a fairly large livestock and poultry flocks and so forth and utilize quite a few thousand tons of feed, and a lot of research diets were difficult to obtain from outside companies because feed manufacturers, feed mills, are getting larger and larger and the quantities that you need in the research diets are relatively small, but you need many of them, right, and so there was a key need for that. 09:30 And then the other part was really hey, we need additional professionals, additional students coming into this industry across the broad range of operations animal nutrition, engineering technology services and not just a program that focuses only on operations management by people like going to be operators or feed mills or even brand elevators and so forth. We need a broader access to that and facilities where continuing education can take place hands-on for the feed industry and the grain industry as a whole, and we’ve all gone through the virtual learning type. Jeeps was a real leader in this among all the industries involved. Now we together developed the continuing education programs, which are great, but people still want to do the hands-on learning part and for that you have to have facilities where those trainings can take place. And that’s what gave the goal for this type of a facility, built in that way and really to a recruit prepare place that next generation of employees. Host Jim Lenz Host 10:33 Yeah, you mentioned that to the group for the luncheon and can you talk a little bit more about that sort of reason? One of the reasons for this facility is about the recruitment. How critical is that right now for Iowa State, a global leader in agriculture education about recruitment? Dr. Dirk Maier Guest 10:56 What does this really mean for the industry, the need for the employees is there. And again, when you think about rural areas, right, and let’s say a little bit about the brain drain or the, you know the challenge of living in rural areas, working in rural areas, raising families in rural areas, and so forth. Iowa is a reasonably big state. We’ve got three million people and we’ve got vast areas, you know, of where rural agriculture is taking place, right, and so being able to help find students that may be from some of those areas and want to get a degree in education, a training that allows them to stay and live in the area where they grew up and want to live, and do that working for a company, whether it’s a feed mill, a grain elevator or equipment supplier, manufacturer and otherwise, of which there are many this is the opportunity to help train them and be able to give them a chance to go back and live where they like to live. And so one of the challenges that we’ve had other places is, you know, bringing people from far away into an area that’s geographically out of the sweet spot, so to speak, and then putting them back where they were needed, right, and so we were never quite that successful in doing that. 12:14 And here the other thing that we are doing uniquely is we’ve created a minor. We call it a feed technology minor. It’s an academic minor that’s on the books at Iowa State University and instead of a major a four-year degree in feed science or feed management or feed manufacturing or feed technology a minor allows any student in any major to add a minor for specialization purposes. So if you’re an engineer mechanical, agricultural, chemical you want to be in the process related to engineering, industry, the equipment related, you can add feed technology as a minor. If you’re an ag systems technology person, you can add that minor and open yourself up for the possibilities of working in this industry, a little bit ahead of the curve. And you’re already making contacts in the industry while you’re going through your degree program Animal science, ag education, ag studies, ag business and marketing. It opens up all of those majors into a specialization where we can connect the students much earlier in the academic career with the industry than we typically have been able to do otherwise. Host Jim Lenz Host 13:22 Very nice, very nice, good clarity. Thanks so much. Let’s explore the education opportunities provided by the complex, including these hands on learning experiences. Who do you see as your target audience? Dr. Dirk Maier Guest 13:34 looking into the future, Well, the target audience are students that are coming to Iowa State or are already at Iowa State. If you look at animal science, there’s over a thousand undergraduate students In our department at Ag and Biosystems Engineering. On the engineering and technology side we have close to six 700 students. You go to AgEcon, there’s 400, some students. So we don’t necessarily need to recruit way at the high school level. Right, these students are coming and they’re going to these big majors. Then they’re looking at, well, what am I really interested in? This is where they come across our area of specialization. I do this in the area of specialization. That is our target audience of making these students aware and having them join us in the feed technology minor or just taking some of the classes without even completing the minor. It’s not a requirement to be in our class and you’re the minor, but the minor certainly gives you an extra credential that will qualify you over somebody else. Host Jim Lenz Host 14:35 But mostly it’s about the experience that you gain doing this minor For those students who are here it can be difficult to understand the impact serving locally and regionally, but really they choose this area. For example, grant handling and processing industry. This is a global market. Absolutely Does that surprise students. Dr. Dirk Maier Guest 14:58 the significance and impact about feeding and fueling the world Early in our class that we teach here in the fall semester feed processing and technology. 15:08 My second lecture is an overview of the global grid and feed industry. 15:13 I was placed the Midwest place in all of that. 15:17 Yes, the students are typically rather surprised. 15:20 I mean, they know this is an important industry. 15:22 They grew up in the industry, generally speaking on the rural areas, and yet, to understand the context of this global system, how interconnected we are and why commodity prices go up and down and why feeding gets expensive or less expensive as a result of all these things, and where the growing markets are in particular, and then, for example, just the state of Iowa we’re very much dependent on agricultural exports out of the state of Iowa and overseas, but even in neighboring states, and the value that we add to agricultural commodities in this state alone is unbelievable when you really look at that. Yes, we export some corn and some soybeans, but the value of beef, pork, eggs, milk and all of those other products that feed in order to generate this animal source protein, that’s where the value gets added. You add to that ethanol and then the utilization of the co-products and the Marks era. This is an unbelievable agri-industrial system that we’re part of right here and this facility is part of filling a missing link in the completion of this entire training and opportunity and career advancement. Host Jim Lenz Host 16:42 You kind of showcase here how the complex will contribute to the success of Iowa’s agriculture industry. What role will the conflicts have in continuing education and extension programs for industry workers? How big of an impact can the conflicts have on the global scale? Dr. Dirk Maier Guest 16:59 Well, it can have a tremendous impact. 17:01 I mean, even over the last year and a half, since April of last year, we’ve had over 2,000 people that have come through here on visits and tours, and there were at least 20, 25 different countries included within that. 17:15 And we’re getting groups that are sponsored by the US Soybean Export Council and the US Grains Council, that are working with Iowa Corn and Iowa Soybean groups that are not just coming here anymore for farm visits and visits to other facilities. 17:30 Now, this is part of raising awareness and we’ve already done a number of trainings half-day workshops, three-day workshops for groups that have come from overseas, and now that we will be up and running, we’ll be able to get back to the kinds of training opportunities that we also look forward to doing with Jeeps and other organizations and companies that want to either partner with us or they want to utilize our facilities. It will be set up to do exactly that and you know, yes, it’s easier for us as trainers or other consultants, as trainers, to travel to a site and do a lot of classroom types of things. But even when you go to a major grain elevator or a feed mill, they don’t just like to run around and do all kinds of hands-on training. Well, here we can do that kind of hands-on training, and so if people want to do the classroom, they’re getting the context and the basics and so forth and they want to come then here to do more of the hands-on we’re really really really working on creating hands-on training opportunities and that will be very unique. Host Jim Lenz Host 18:37 Very nice Now just to provide some context, because right now, at the time of this recording, we have listeners from the whole grain podcast from 46 different countries, and I just want to showcase again with your words the significance of Iowa in the grain industry, because the mount produced in Iowa is greater than many singular countries in the world. Is there anything that you can add to serve maybe as an analogy or a comparison of the production of Iowa? Dr. Dirk Maier Guest 19:09 Yeah. What surprises a lot of people is that if you just took Iowa corn production, in an average year we would be the fourth largest country in the world. Wow, all right. Yeah, I mean, when you begin to think about that it’s like, wow right, fourth largest country. You could take and subtract the amount Iowa produces from the US production, us would still be number one, ahead of China, brazil and then Iowa. Yeah, wow, ok. Now on a net production side, or net processing, we still in have to import another few percentages of corn into Iowa because we add so much value in ethanol and in feeding that we consume more corn that we actually produce, believe it or not. But that’s you. Look at the numbers, wow, that is amazing. And then you take soybeans and the processing of the soybean and soybean oil and soybean meal and all of that. It’s a huge value added industry. That’s how big Iowa agriculture is. Host Jim Lenz Host 20:08 Fantastic. I want to just briefly move over to funding and partnerships. Can you discuss the various contributions and donations from organizations? I know that can be so hard because I was just at the nice luncheon you had for those folks. Can you highlight how these contributions have facilitated to the project success and can you mention any specific equipment or services provided by these? Dr. Dirk Maier Guest 20:31 organizations. Yes, I mean the lead donor is Kent, the Kent family, Kent Corporation, the Iowa based company. When I came here in 2015, we had early conversations with Kent and in 2016, they made the $8 million commitment as a lead gift, which gave for them also the naming opportunity for the complex and that drew people’s attention and that really kind of started with regard to that. And then Sukup was another company that came on board right away, again an Iowa based company, family owned and very generous to Iowa State in many ways, and they basically made the grain handling system available plus its installation. That’s a huge gift, right, several million dollars with regard to the value of such a gift. 21:19 And then CPM, which is another Iowa based company, or at least Roots in Iowa and have a large group here in the Waterloo area, made a commitment also right away towards supplying all the feed manufacturing, processing equipment, grinding equipment, and the majority of that is here in the plant of CPM equipment again, a very generous gift. And so between those three that kind of got the ball rolling. And then there were many, many other companies, as we have listed on our website and mentioned in different articles and so forth, that also provided individual pieces of equipment or they provided substantial discounts of purchasing the equipment. No-transcript of particularly the equipment industry that has stepped up tremendously. Host Jim Lenz Host 22:09 Yeah, just amazing. And before we go here, you have a team here that you’re working with. They’re not here right now during this conversation, but is there any team? Dr. Dirk Maier Guest 22:22 want to talk about. 22:24 Well, we have a relatively small team, right. So there’s three of us, really. In terms of the full-time staff, tony Ewing is our Associate Director and Manager of Operations. He has 30 years of industry experience, half of that overseas. He spent time in Nigeria, in Saudi Arabia, romania, hungary and, most recently, in the Philippines, and so he comes with us with 14, 15 years of overseas experience, and so we’re talking about a global industry and global experience. We both are very well traveled internationally. 22:56 Of course, camille Schroeder is our Business and Programs Manager. 23:01 That is a key role here as well. 23:03 And then we’re generally a student-operated facility, right, we want students to learn in this facility, so we have lots of responsibilities that we put on the students, and we have graduate students that are helping us in operational activities and quality control activities, but they’re also then using the facility as part of their graduate, master’s or PhD level research, in addition to helping run the facility, and we have undergraduate students that are basically get employed in order to work from operations to maintenance to quality control, to all across the different areas. 23:36 You know that you need environment, health and safety. I mean all of that, and a unique aspect, if I may, is really the way we’re aiming to get students’ traineeships, and so what we’re actually doing is, instead of just hiring students, labor is our biggest expense, right, and so what we need is sponsorships of companies interested in students. So instead of scholarships, we go for traineeships, so a company whether it’s a freshman student, sophomore, otherwise can sponsor one of our student employees from day one. It’s about $5,000 a semester. The student then is recognized as being supported by that company. We get the company and them together. They can see whether they want to hire that student as an intern. You know, if it’s not the right math, they can switch that traineeship the next semester to another student, and so we’re trying to get companies together with students much earlier. You know, career fairs are great. 24:30 We have some of the largest ones in the country at Iowa State University but you often connect at a relatively late stage because the company is looking for that graduating senior or whatnot, but you would get into contact with freshmen, and so this traineeship is a real key concept that we already have quite a bit of interest, from the grain and feed industry to sponsoring students to work here. Host Jim Lenz Host 24:50 Very interesting. Super Well, torg. Thank you so much. It’s an honor and a pleasure to connect with you today and looking forward to the big dedication ceremony in about an hour. Thank you, jeff, appreciate it. We thank you, our listeners, for making whole grain part of your day. 25:06 If you are finding Valley in the whole grain podcast, we ask a favor Visit your podcast app to search for whole grain. Hit the subscribe button, leave us a comment and why you like listening to show. This small button Important gesture enables us and this show to be found more easily by others and finally share the news of this show with at least five other people in your network. It’s a great way to take learning on the go and gain fresh, new perspectives. If you and your organization want to sponsor an episode and be a featured guest in the whole grain show, or if you are interested in us producing audio ads to support your product or service, we can help you with that. We can work with you virtually easy to do. 25:43 Please reach out to me, Jim Lenz, director of Global Training and Education at GEAPS the Grain Elevator and Processing Society, by email at james@geaps.com. Whole grain is a production of GEAPS, the grain elevator and processing society. The Grain Elevator and Processing Society is the largest organization dedicated to advancing the grain handling and processing industry. Be sure to check out www.geaps.com. Make it a great day and thanks for listening to Whole Grain.

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