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Published February 03, 2014, 09:55 AM

NCI slated to update techology

It won’t look different from the outside, but the Northern Crops Institute Feed Processing Center soon will be entirely up-to-date.

By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

FARGO, N.D. — It won’t look different from the outside, but the Northern Crops Institute Feed Processing Center soon will be entirely up-to-date.

NCI Director Mark Weber says numerous milling industry companies have stepped up to provide the center with some $466,000 to upgrade its feed mill with several pieces to replace what’s been in service for 25 years. There’ll be a new mixing center, micronutrient bins and a computer-controlled operating system. All will be installed at the end of May or first week in June.

Heading the upgrade is Kim Koch, director of NCI’s Feed Production Center, who came to the feed mill while it was being built in 1990. The mill does feed ingredient research and supplies feed to North Dakota State University research units in beef, sheep, swine and dairy.

The old mixer, installed 25 years ago, is a single-shaft that produces basically only one size batch. Instead of having to make only a one-ton batch, the new machine will allow production of as few as 500 pounds or as much as 3,500 pounds in the same machine, all to the same high-quality standards.

Being able to make versatile batches helps NDSU researchers who don’t have to order a ton of feed when they don’t need it.

Scott Equipment Co. of New Prague, Minn., makes the machines and is donating the mixing unit. Koch guesses the value is roughly $80,000.

The mill also is adding a micro-nutrient addition system for another $80,000. That system will automatically add ingredients in a range of sizes — a low of 20 grams to 200 pounds of some component — all from ingredients stocked in one-ton tote bags. There’ll be a four-bin minor ingredient system, and conveyors.

The center is going from a semi-automatic operating system to a fully automated operating system, run with a computer mouse and using a computer monitor, instead of the now old-fashioned wall-sized setups, with their dials and light indicators that show the trail.

“Any modernized system is going to have an automated addition system,” Koch says.

An example of an NCI research topic would be the influence of corn feed particle size on cattle performance.

“Can you make it too small? Yes. Can you make it too big? Yes,” Koch says. “You’re trying to find that ideal, optimal size so that the animal gets the most benefit.” Projects tend to be on-going.

Another example is how different feed ingredients react to one another.

“Sometimes you get synergy from ingredients, sometimes antagonism. For example, there’s a synergistic effect of using distillers dried grains with soluble, in that you can remove some of the soybean meal. You can potentially save money on protein. But there’s an antagonistic effect with DDGS.”

He says the research looks for ways to overcome the negatives.