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Iowa soybean processing capacity is expandingIowa soybean processing capacity is expanding

Soybean crush facility at Ralston is latest to increase production capacity; biodiesel plant also expanding.

Rod Swoboda 1

November 14, 2016

4 Min Read

More of Iowa’s huge 2016 soybean crop will be processed in state, as Landus Cooperative has expanded its large feed manufacturing facility at Ralston in west- central Iowa. The $27 million soybean processing plant expansion was unveiled at an open house on November 3 to industry and economic development officials and local media.


Adding a third production line will allow Landus to increase its soybean processing capacity by 50% to meet increasing demand for SoyPlus, the expeller processed soybean meal manufactured by the co-op. With the expansion, the plant can produce 575,000 tons of SoyPlus annually. The plant will process an additional 6 billion bushels of soybeans for a total crush of 20 million bushels of soybeans each year.

Expands to meet demand for high protein feed ingredient

Landus CEO Milan Kucerak says the expansion will benefit the co-op, its members and all soybean farmers. “The demand for our SoyPlus product which is used in dairy cow rations continues to grow,” he says. “Historically, Ralston has had the strongest bid in the area for soybeans, as we put beans through the plant and create a value-added product. Not only do growers get a better price for their beans, we get a higher margin selling SoyPlus. That makes us a stronger co-op, and those earnings come back to our members in patronage refunds so our members benefit two ways.”

Randy Souder, a Landus Co-op member who farms at Rockwell City, says the additional local soybean demand will support or strengthen soybean bids. That’s welcome news as soybean prices continue to be pressured as the nation’s farmers wrap up a record soybean harvest. “This new plant is a big deal,” says Souder. “Even if it helps basis by a few cents -- that could be the difference between making a profit and losing money.”

Facility’s soybean bids are stronger than other area buyers

Typically, says Kucerak, Ralston’s bids are 20 to 30 cents per bushel higher, on average, than other buyers. It wasn’t uncommon for truck traffic to reach 600 trucks a day at the height of the 2016 harvest. Even though Ralston has multiple state-of-the-art dumping pits capable of unloading more than 60,000 bushels per hour, wait times of two hours occurred during peak harvest days or when the elevators locally got tight on storage space.

The cooperative estimates nearly half of all soybeans purchased from farmers this year at its 70 grain elevator locations will be processed into SoyPlus at the Ralston plant. Kucerak expects the expansion will benefit all members and area soybean farmers for years to come. “We think strong bids will continue,” he says. “SoyPlus is a success story.”

85% of SoyPlus feed ingredient is sold in U.S.; 15% is exported

Mark Cullen, chief of animal nutrition for Landus, says dairy farmers have learned how SoyPlus helps increase cow productivity, improves animal health and reproduction, and adds value to their dairy farming operations. About 85% of SoyPlus is sold in the U.S. and 15% is exported. The dairy feed ingredient is shipped to both coasts and is popular in Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Canada. “We have the unique ability to purchase locally-grown soybeans and share them with dairy producers across the country and in other nations, too, in the form of dairy feed.”

The expansion of the Ralston bean processing plant means soybean oil production will increase by 50%. All of the estimated 660,000 pounds produced per day will be purchased by Renewable Energy Group, Inc., which will be processed into biodiesel at its facility next door. REG has announced plans to expand its Ralston refinery to 30 million gallons per year, from its current 12-million-gallon-per-year biodiesel production capacity. A groundbreaking ceremony was held November 8 to begin the $24 million expansion of the biodiesel plant.

Landus buys soybeans from its more than 7,000 farmer-members

Anticipating increased SoyPlus sales, Landus increased its fleet of leased rail cars from about 270 to 490. The co-op also plans to spend $5 million to boost soybean storage capacity from 6 million bushels to 9 million bushels. Tonnage of SoyPlus produced at the new plant will continue to be shipped by both truck and rail. Since the announcement of the plant expansion in June 2015, the project has progressed according to schedule, opening in time to process new-crop beans this harvest. It is a phased start-up to bring the new processing capacity online. “By March we anticipate this plant will be running at full capacity,” says Kucerak.

SoyPlus is just one product in the Dairy Nutrition Plus family of products manufactured by Landus Cooperative. As a farmer-owned co-op, the company sources beans from more than 7,000 members farming throughout Iowa and in parts of southern Minnesota. To learn more about SoyPlus visit dairynutritionplus.com.

About the Author(s)

Rod Swoboda 1

Editor, Wallaces Farmer

Rod, who has been a member of the editorial staff of Wallaces Farmer magazine since 1976, was appointed editor of the magazine in April 2003. He is widely recognized around the state, especially for his articles on crop production and soil conservation topics, and has won several writing awards, in addition to honors from farm, commodity and conservation organizations.

"As only the tenth person to hold the position of Wallaces Farmer editor in the past 100 years, I take seriously my responsibility to provide readers with timely articles useful to them in their farming operations," Rod says.

Raised on a farm that is still owned and operated by his family, Rod enjoys writing and interviewing farmers and others involved in agriculture, as well as planning and editing the magazine. You can also find Rod at other Farm Progress Company activities where he has responsibilities associated with the magazine, including hosting the Farm Progress Show, Farm Progress Hay Expo and the Iowa Master Farmer program.

A University of Illinois grad with a Bachelors of Science degree in agriculture (ag journalism major), Rod joined Wallaces Farmer after working several years in Washington D.C. as a writer for Farm Business Incorporated.

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