Waseca, Minn. — For some folks, the subjects of sugar beet pulp and swine nutrition generate an attractive force. Witness the bringing together of the AURI Southeast Field Office and the University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center.

Although AURI is located on the property of the Research and Outreach Center, and both organizations share the common ground of agriculture, they have separate missions. SROC seeks to provide producers with unbiased information on crop and livestock production, while AURI strives to add value to those commodities by developing new uses and new markets. But when those paths cross, partnering enables both entities to meet their goals.

Provender for pigs

A case in point: the AURI coproducts utilization lab processed some of the feed used in a recent SROC swine nutrition study. Normally not involved in feed projects, AURI’s interest was piqued because one of the ingredients showing positive results is a byproduct from an ag processing operation.

“In this case, the feed is used in trials at different stages of swine nutritional needs,” says Al Doering, a researcher at the Waseca lab. “Positive results could mean significant use of a product that right now has low value. That would be great for a company looking for ways to utilize one of their coproducts.”

“It’s a win-win situation,” says Sam Baidoo, who heads up the SROC’s swine nutrition efforts. “Our research is looking at utilizing ag fibers to improve the animals’ gut health and reduce antibiotics. The exciting part is that it’s working.”

The collaboration works because AURI has equipment and expertise to produce the feed, while the SROC has the hogs and the knowledge to evaluate the results.

Shaping the feed

Another collaboration between AURI and SROC involves the feed’s physical shape. A Minnesota livestock company came to AURI with a new technology related to the form of the livestock feed. Having shown positive results in poultry, the feed is now being tested on hogs.

“Swine performance based on the shape of the feed could open up new uses for coproducts,” Doering says. “There’s a ‘scratch factor’ that improves the health of the animal’s stomach. Currently they are using grain, but you could also use coproducts.”

Whether developing feed products for a research project or teaming with economic developers to jointly assist a venture, “collaboration” is a mantra often sounded by AURI Executive Director Edgar Olson.

“It’s important for us to partner with others so we can maximize our resources and help move projects forward,” Olson says. “It’s especially important during times when resources are tight for all of us.”

“We’re able to do things others can’t, and they may have resources that we need,” adds Doering. “In the end, what’s important is that together we’re able to impact Minnesota agriculture in a positive way.”