North Dakota's oldest seed-cleaning facility will soon be replaced

WILLISTON, N.D. - A 65-year-old seed cleaning building at the NDSU Research Extension Center in Williston will be replaced with a new state-of-the-art-facility, but $750,000 is still need in order to make that happen.

Workers say the transition is long over due, because there are a lot of issues they deal with at the current building.

Up to 40,000 bushels of seed go through this building every year. Farmers in North Dakota, Montana, and Canada, use the facility but the aging infrastructure is failing.

Kyle Dragseth Farm Manger and Seed-Stock Specialist said, “I’ve been here for 23 years, and you know, when I first started, I thought this facility was you know, a pretty nice facility, but after going around the state and the country looking at real facilities, I started to see how antiquated it is.”

Out-dated technology and poor ventilation create contamination issues. The structure is has five separate floors, so the types of seed that can be processed are limited.

“We raise many crops that are specialty crops, lentils being one of them, chickpeas another. That are crops that the facility we have now can’t handle in that system because of the damage it can cause,” said Thomas Wheeler, Eastern MT/Williston Extension Center joint board chairman.

The steep stairs and ladders connecting floors create a dangerous working environment.

Dragseth added, “Lighting is an issue here, half the time we can’t see.“

All of the obstacles this building presents will be solved with the new one-level facility.

“It’s way past over-due. We upgrade to the modern technology, and using artificial intelligence with the optical sorter to get the highest purity possible to provide for our growers,” said Jerry Bergman, director of the Williston NDSU Research Extension Center.

The old seed-cleaning building handles 35 bushels an hour, and with the new one, that will increase to 200.

They want to start construction on the new building next spring, and be operational for the 2020 fall harvest. The state legislature and local producers have given the project $1.2 million so far. If you would like to donate, contact Williston’s extension office at 701-774-4315.