Carrington Research Extension Center


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New Seed Conditioning Facility Begins Operation


In October of 2018, the Carrington Research Extension Center commenced operation of a new seed plant for cleaning and conditioning foundation-grade seedstocks produced by the CREC. The new seed plant replaces the original seed cleaning facility that was constructed in 1963.  The foundation seed program of the CREC is part of the overall NDSU Foundation Seedstocks project. The overall project includes seed production and conditioning capabilities at the Agronomy Seed Farm and four Research Extension Centers. The CREC foundation seedstocks program produces and processes a large volume and diverse number of crops and crop varieties annually. In recent years, the program has conditioned 50,000 to 60,000 bushels of seed representing 27 to 35 different varieties among 8 to 12 different crops. Like all stages of foundation seed production, the plant is designed to facilitate the complete clean out of all seeds from all components before the next seedlot is processed. Foundation grade seed is highly pure seed that serves as parent seed for seedsman who wish to grow and sell certified seed as Registered or Certified class. The foundation grade seed produced and conditioned by the CREC is in demand by many constituencies ranging from the large commercial private seedsman of the state to individual farmers and emerging small business interests. In the past five years, the CREC has provided foundation seed to more than 325 different constituents.

The near completion of the new seed plant represents the culmination of more than ten years of effort to secure support for construction of this facility. The State Board of Agricultural Research and Education had ranked new seed cleaning plants at a number of locations among their capital project priorities for multiple legislative sessions. The 64th Legislative Assembly (2015 session) approved $750,000 from general funds and authorized up to $1.5 million from other funds for construction of seed cleaning plants at the Carrington Research Extension Center and the North Central Research Extension Center at Minot. In May of 2016, the SBHE authorized NDSU to proceed with the construction of a seed cleaning facility located at the Carrington REC utilizing the $750,000 from the state general fund and other funds.

The original plant has the basic capacity to process most crops at a rate of 30 bushels per hour. The cleaning equipment and components of seed transfer and distribution in the old plant were spread across five floors that presented worker safety challenges along with minimal capacity for dust control. The new plant is equipped to clean and condition seed at a rate of 300 bushels per hour across equipment aligned on a platform above ground level. The new facility incorporates worker safety features including effective dust control measures with a bag dust system. A programmable logic controller allows automation in start-up and adjustments among the many components of the seed processing line.

Inside view of the new seed plant at the CREC.

The new seed plant has been built in multiple phases, with each phase initiated as funds were available through the general fund appropriation, fund raising efforts and internal resources. Construction of the new seed plant began in the fall of 2016 with construction of the main building. In early 2017, the primary seed cleaning equipment was purchased and additional phases of construction have followed through the completion of the most recent phase that was installation of the dust control system early October. The foundation seed plant when fully complete will be capable of implementing five stages of seed conditioning depending upon the needs of the seedlot. The various processing stages in order are a vibratory pre-cleaner, air screen, indent separator, gravity table, and optical sorter. The first four stages are now fully operational and are being used to condition the 2018 production. The important capabilities provided by an optical sorter are not yet a component of the plants processing sequence. This equipment and its ancillary features will be installed in the future when adequate resources are available.

Current outside view of the new seed plant at the CREC.

Blaine Schatz

CREC Director and Agronomist

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