The Roundup -

WREC Receives $750,000 For New Seed Plant

 

From left, Brad Bekkedahl, Allen Domagala, Dr. Greg Lardy, Mark Birdsall, Chad Anderson, Kyle Dragseth, Daniel Stenberg, and Tom Wheeler

The NDSU Williston Research Extension Center's (WREC) employees and farmers in the MonDak trade area are excited about the good news the WREC received in late April. This good news was that the WREC received $750,000 in funding to build a brand new seed cleaning facility. This facility will benefit not only the WREC and its employees but also MonDak area growers who purchase seeds from the WREC on a regular basis. 

Kyle Dragseth, Farm Manager at the WREC, explained that the funding was finally made possible by the progressiveness of Tom Wheeler, the Advisory Board President, and Jerry Bergman, the WREC Director, "They have worked long and hard to get this vision to a near reality," said Dragseth.

The research center has been trying for many years to update its current seed cleaning facility, but with lack of funding, it just wasn't possible. The WREC's current facility was built in 1956, making it the oldest one out of all the Research Centers in the state of North Dakota. 

Dragseth explained, "We are still working on fundraising and thus far have raised a little over two-thirds of the money needed to make this happen." Although the WREC still has fundraising to do, $750,000 will go a long way toward the WREC's capital campaign goal of $2.25 million.

In order to obtain the funding, there were many procedures the WREC had to go through. Dragseth explained, "There have been many hoops to jump through in an attempt to raise funds for a new facility: first was to get permission from the Board of Higher Education, NDSU, and the state legislators." Since then, a campaign has been underway to raise the necessary funds for Williston's seed-cleaning facility. One of the most significant contributors was Williston's STAR Fund donation of $250,000. 

The WREC is hoping to be done with fundraising by December 2019, and if things go as planned, construction for the new facility will possibly begin in the spring of 2020.

As WREC's Farm Manager, Dragseth conducts and oversees all farming aspects of dryland research projects, farm operations, and seed production, equipment and station care and maintenance. Dragseth has worked at the WREC for 23 years full time, and four years part-time, so he has had a lot of experience with cleaning seed at the WREC's current facility. 

Dragseth explained when cleaning seed at the current facility, it is challenging to keep an eye on the seeds when they are on five different levels, 

WREC's current seed cleaning facility only produces 35 bushels an hour, which makes it challenging to keep up with regional demand. The new facility is expected to clean seed almost six times faster than that - approximately 200 bushels an hour. The new seed cleaning plant will be all on one level so Dragseth will be able to do several projects at once. 

When Dragseth was asked what part of the new facility he was most excited about, he explained, "The seed plant being equipped with an optical sorter with infrared lighting designed for the most complex color sorting." This sorter will deliver seed with the highest genetic purity of new and higher-yielding/value-added crop varieties for MonDak area growers. 

 

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