Prairie AquaTech

A truck unloads soybeans at the Prairie AquaTech facility in Volga, S.D.

The world’s resources are being taxed, especially the resources needed to feed the world.

Prairie AquaTech is a Brookings, South Dakota company that is tackling those challenges of providing sustainable, traceable and commercially viable ingredients for animal feed. The company’s answer lies in soybeans.

“Soybeans are the heart of our protein production,” Prairie AquaTech CEO Mark Luecke said. “South Dakota soybean farmers help us secure well-sourced, high performance soybeans. This relationship helps us to, in turn, provide powerful feed ingredients for feed mills and ultimately, fish and shrimp farmers, around the world.”

The world’s primary sources of protein remain animal based—pork, beef, poultry and seafood. These animals require nutritious feed. But, as the global population explodes, the source of the ingredients that comprise that feed become more crucial, especially the protein ingredients.

In the aquaculture industry, feeds for fish and shrimp have traditionally used fish meals to provide the protein component. Yet farming these natural resources to raise an increased demand for sustainably-farmed fish and shrimp places too much pressure on the natural ecosystem.

Adding to this dilemma is the fact that, according the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), aquaculture is the world’s fastest growing food production sector. Aquaculture has also proven to be the most efficient production method of protein for human consumption, exchanging 1 pound of feed for every pound of live animal weight. Aquaculture is said to have great promise for feeding the world.

In response to these global needs, Prairie AquaTech developed ME-PRO – a plant-based protein ingredient for aqua feed. Formed in 2012, the company licensed research from South Dakota State University and is now producing the feed in full scale commercial production at the the company’s new manufacturing plant in Volga, South Dakota.

The 30,000-square-foot plant is located next to South Dakota Soybean Processors, an important partner in making the feed. ME-PRO produced at the Volga plant is being evaluated in aquaculture farm trials and independent research organizations world-wide in addition to supplying American aqua feed producers.

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