Ag Innovation Campus will start processing soybeans this summer

Soybean processing will begin in July and there will be a grand opening at the plant in September.

The Ag Innovation Campus in Crookston, Minnesota, initially will process soybeans, and eventually, other oilseeds and specialty crops.
Erin Ehnle Brown / Grand Vale Creative LLC

Soybean processing at the Ag Innovation Campus in Crookston, Minnesota, is expected to begin in mid-summer 2023.

The plant is forecast to crush 240 tons of soybeans daily for a total of 62,420 tons annually. The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council and the Agricultural Utilization and Research Institute founded the plant, which is located on 10 acres in southwest Crookston.

The AIC is being paid for with loans, private industry donations, state and national soybean checkoffs and state funding.

Ground was broken on the project in October 2020 and dirt work began the next spring.

The first phase of construction, which had an estimated cost of about $20 million, is nearly completed and most of the specialty equipment has been delivered, said Tom Slunecka, Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council executive director.


“Things are looking good, “ he said.

Initially the plant will be equipped to crush oilseeds, including soybeans, canola and pennycress, an oilseed cover crop, Future plans are milling grains, including wheat, corn and barley.

Soybean processing will begin in July and there will be a grand opening at the plant in September.

Fundraising is under way for Phase 2 of the plant, which will be construction of offices, a laboratory space for AURI, now located on the University of Minnesota Crookston campus, and education rooms.

Eventually, profits from soybean processing will fund phases two and three, but donations and sponsorships would allow Phase 2 and Phase 3 to get underway sooner, Slunecka said. Phase 3 will be the construction of incubator spaces that specialty processors can use.

There has been a lot of interest from potential processors in using the incubators, he said. In April the Ag Innovation Campus hosted four Minnesota groups, four groups from outside the state and two international groups who are interested in using the space. The space will have utilities and processors will provide the equipment they need.

Launching a project during the COVID-19 pandemic was challenging as the cost of construction skyrocketed and supply chain interruptions delayed equipment deliveries. Even so, the Ag Innovation Campus looks like the plant that Slunecka had envisioned it would be. Meanwhile, AIC has garnered interest and support from the soybean and specialty crops industries.

“It’s been a long, hard battle, but it’s so rewarding to see we’ve done the right things,” he said. “There’s really big interest and support.”

Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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