Optimizing Operations: Central Farm Service St. James Feed Mill

by Kristin Joker

MARTIN COUNTY, MINNESOTA, known for its thriving pork industry, provided the perfect backdrop for Central Farm Service (CFS), a farmer-owned cooperative headquartered in Truman, MN, to embark on the construction of a cutting-edge feed mill in St. James, situated just north of Martin County. With a rich heritage dating back to 1895, this 4,000-member cooperative caters to over 7,000 customers throughout southern Minnesota and northern Iowa. The establishment of the new 350,000-tpy swine feed mill underscores CFS’ dedication to the region’s agricultural community.

CFS awarded the contract to Manufacturing Solutions, Inc., Humboldt, IA, to design, engineer, and manage the project. Millniphec, LLC, Laurel, OH, served as millwright, enclosure erector, and bin erector; American Boiler & Mechanical, St. Louis, MO, was the mechanical contractor; electrical contractor was Knobelsdorff Electric, Inc., Goodhue, MN; concrete work was performed by Slip General Concrete, Inc., Clinton, NC; and Mathiowetz Construction Company, Sleepy Eye, MN, completed site excavation.

Groundbreaking on the 18-month project took place in April 2022 and, despite the harsh winter conditions and above-average precipitation, was completed on time.

The new mill has a 50-foot-x-48-foot footprint. The highest point is a receiving leg at 185 feet. Additional structures include concrete bin decks and a secondary grinding tower. Pre-engineered metal buildings include a receiving drive, a 150-foot-x-61-foot dock-high warehouse with 6,500 square feet of usable space, a 65-foot-x-32-foot liquid room, and dual loadout drives.

The facility also includes an office, breakroom, control room, electrical room, restroom, and small maintenance shop. Air is supplied to the plant via a 40-hp Gardner-Denver rotary air compressor equipped with a desiccant dryer. All mill operations are under the control of a CPM Automation system.

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The new CFS Feed Mill. The photo shows the back side of the feed mill where feed trucks would exit the 2 loadouts (on the left) and the receiving area (on the right). It also shows the old feed mill (to be removed in 2024) and the grain bin set up with dump pit.

Receiving

The new mill’s receiving area is a 99-foot-x-16-foot enclosed single soft-stock receiving drive with a 144-tph material handling system. Corn is transferred to the mill at 7,500 bph.

Grinding

The secondary grinding tower stands 67 feet tall on a 36-foot-x-24-foot footprint. Corn is transferred to the tower from existing storage on-site on a 7,500-bph Hi Roller enclosed belt conveyor mounted on a 315-foot LeMar Industries overhead truss bridge 121 feet above grade. Corn is ground with three RMS Roller-Grinder 12x52, triple-pair roller mills. Each 36-tph roller mill can be dedicated to a specific grind. Ground corn is moved to the mill through a dual material handling system at 74 tph each. Corn is screened on a Baasch & Sons, Inc. Mohawk Scalper at 5,000 bph. Six bins in the grinding tower total 19,000 bushels of storage capacity, and a 36,000-bushel hopper tank measuring 30 feet in diameter provides shell corn to the roller mills.

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CFS Board of Directors. Front L to R: Merlyn Kruger, CEO, Kurt Koehler, Board Chairman, John Peach, Vice Chairman, Trent Frederickson, Secretary,. Back L to R: Dale Stensrud, Board Director, David Estrem, Board Director, Jeff Eckhardt, Board Director, Jason Smith, Board Director, Lance Petersen, Board Director, Jay Landsteiner, Board of Director.

Batching & Mixing

The 100-tph mixing material handling system features 28 Tom-Cin steel ingredient bins (nine bins to minor scale and 19 bins to major scale) total 90,038 cubic feet for approximately 1,800 tons of storage and 40 loadout bins that hold approximately 1,200 tons each.

Ingredients are weighed in a pair of Tom-Cin-fabricated batching scales (6-ton major, 2-ton minor scales) then are mixed in a Scott 6-ton twin shaft mixer at 100 tph for an average three-minute mix. Microngredients are added to the mixer from two 24-bin, dual-scale Abel microingredient systems constructed into the floor. A 10-tote bag system fabricated by Manufacturing Solutions is located above the micro bins.

Five 12,000-gallon liquid tanks, also from Manufacturing Solutions, store liquid ingredients (four for fat and one for lysine). Fat is transferred to the mixer via four dedicated lines at 50 gpm each. From the mixer, bulk feed proceeds directly to the loadout bins.

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48-bin Micro with 10 tote hanging capabilities.

Load-Out

Trucks are loaded at 99-foot-x-40-foot fully enclosed, dual loadout driveways. Each drive is equipped with a 70-foot-x-11-foot platform Siouxland truck scale automated by Beta Raven and two 360-tph reverse drag shuttle-loading systems. Each of the 40 loadout bins can store up to 1,559 cubic feet of feed. In total, that equates to 1,200 tons of storage capacity (approximately 50 semi loads).

Exceeding Expectations

Initially planned for phased construction, Phase 1 of the project entailed a capacity of 350,000 metric tons. “Our target at the project’s onset was to be at 80% capacity,” explains Glenn Eben, vice president of feed. “Our 15-week running average is 285,000 tons, exceeding the 80% mark, which is very satisfying.” With the board’s unanimous satisfaction, portions of Phase 2 were approved even before the completion of Phase 1. Presently, the new mill boasts the capability to produce up to 1,600 tons of feed every 16 hours, achieving an approximate capacity of 2,500 tpd.

Future Options

In line with its vision for the future, CFS intends to dismantle the original 1970s-era feed mill. Additionally, the company has outlined plans for extensive expansion, which include the addition of 450 tons of outdoor storage for soybean meal and 350-ton storage for DDGSs, each equipped with transfer systems.

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