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President Trump Signals Support for E15 EPA MUST DELIVER

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When the first POET plant opened over thirty years ago, it opened the door to endless world-changing possibilities. Beyond that threshold we’ve discovered a world of innovative renewable energy solutions. Biofuels, nutrient-rich proteins and oil alternatives are just the beginning.


FEATURES 12 POET’s Animal Feed Business Rapidly Expands to International Markets Dakota Gold Brand Has Gained Recognition Abroad, ‘Become Synonymous With Quality’

22 Real-world Challenge with a Real-world Solution


POET Sponsors SDSU Engineering Students’ Design Project for Capstone Course

34 Stover Harvest Gears Up Anticipation Builds for the Largest Biomass Harvest Yet; Veteran Growers Share Their Experiences

40 Seeds of Change Mission Grow Continues to Change the Lives of Kenyan Farmers

Find Vital online at: Subscribe to and read a digital edition of Vital.



In Sight

By Jeff Broin


Farm Fresh

by Brian Hefty


Nascar® Update

by Ryan Welsh


Out Of Left Field

by Scott Johnson

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On the Cover: In a White House meeting on April 12, 2018, President Trump signified the administration is working on regulatory reforms that will allow year-round access for E15. The focus now is to hold the Environmental Protection Agency, including Administrator Scott Pruitt, and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue accountable to the President’s commitment to RVP relief. Read more on page 6. Michael Candelori/, Alex Wong/Getty Images News, Jason Andrew/Getty Images News

POET’s Vital magazine is an important conduit to share how POET is moving our country and our world from depending on fossil fuels to producing sustainable resources from the Earth. We will represent the voices of producers and biofuels supporters, as well as educate and inform readers about agriculture and industry knowledge, opportunities and the power of the human spirit.

In the spirit of its continued commitment to being good stewards of the environment, POET is proud to produce Vital using 100% recycled paper, with eco-friendly soy-based ink.



Vital is published quarterly by POET, LLC and other individuals or entities. All materials within are subject to copyrights owned by POET. Any reproduction of all or part of any document found in Vital is expressly prohibited, unless POET or the copyright owner of the material has expressly granted its prior written consent to so reproduce, retransmit or republish the material. All other rights reserved. For questions, contact the POET legal department at 605.965.2200. The opinions and statements expressed by content contributors and advertisers in Vital are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of POET. Neither POET nor its third-party content providers shall be liable for any inaccuracies contained within Vital, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. ©2018 POET, LLC. All rights reserved. Publication Design & Layout: Cassie Medema


It’s Time to Make Some Noise About the Ag Crisis by Jeff Broin, Executive Chairman and CEO of POET

For those of us who are involved in the biofuel and ag

Most recently, POET and other biofuels producers have

industries, the signs of today’s looming ag crisis are clear.

educated the White House on the importance of year-round,

You need only look at land values — which are beginning to

nationwide sales of E15. I believe this is our best route

trend downward — and farm debt — which is rising — to see the

forward to grow biofuels and help ag get back on its feet. Full

writing on the wall. In a recent report, CoBank said the debt-to-

implementation of E15 will create another 2 billion bushels of

income ratio for farmers is “creeping closer to the concerning

corn demand annually for farmers.

levels of the 1980s.”

While President Trump has shown to be an ally of biofuels, we

And the worldwide oversupply of commodities continues

still have much work to do. The President needs to understand

to increase. After four straight years of dropping commodity

what drives rural America and that the solution is more biofuels.

prices and increasing carryouts, the United States Department

We need you, and your friends, coworkers and neighbors to

of Agriculture (USDA) predicts more challenges for the next crop

share how more biofuels are critical to improving farm income.

harvest. The future of farming profitably looks bleak.

Sitting on the sidelines is not an option. We need all of you to

Based on these facts, I’ve been surprised on several recent

get involved!

trips to Washington that many of our elected officials aren’t aware of what’s going on in America’s heartland. They seem oblivious to the fact that agriculture has a big problem. The fact is, biofuels represent the only solution for better market prices going forward. If you’ve heard that exports are a solution, don’t buy it. History clearly shows us that’s not the answer. Exports of corn haven’t changed significantly in decades. And animals have become more efficient through breeding, and more byproducts have become available, keeping commodities used to feed animals flat for decades. However, export opportunities from value-added ag products like ethanol and our coproduct distillers dried grains (DDGS) are growing. Biofuels have already been the balancing force for worldwide agriculture for nearly 30 years, and once again, they represent the only opportunity to alleviate mounting financial issues on the farm. We — agriculture and biofuels — must fight for a larger share of the gas tank in the U.S. and across the globe. To achieve our goals, we must continue to battle against our competition, Big Oil, who is doing everything in its power to stop the expansion of biofuels. I recently met with Vice President Pence and President Trump.

Here are a few ways to join the fight: • Contact your elected officials and ag organizations and make sure they know about the current economic situation in America’s heartland and tell them biofuels is the solution. • Support POET PAC, allowing us to compete with the oil industry in Washington. Visit for details. • Follow POET’s social media accounts.

The key message I conveyed to them is that agriculture is facing


the worst downturn since the 1980s ag crisis, and that biofuels

It takes soldiers to be successful in battle. We need to make

are the only solution to pull America’s farmers through these

sure we’re all in the same army pushing forward to protect

tough times.

agriculture and the Midwest. Please join me in this fight!


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Year-round E15 Sales Secure White House Support: President Trump Commits to RVP Relief The biofuels industry gained significant traction in early

Biofuels industry leaders from POET, Growth Energy

April in the fight to secure year-round E15 sales by receiving

and others expressed enthusiasm for Trump’s statement of

a commitment from a critical stakeholder: President

support. The biofuels industry has long advocated for RVP


relief because of the benefits it would provide to farmers,

In a White House meeting with farm state senators

consumers and biofuel producers. With RVP, nationwide

and governors on April 12, President Trump signified the

adoption of E15 could drive demand for an additional 2

administration is working on regulatory reforms that will

billion bushels of surplus grain annually.

allow year-round access for E15. Currently, Environmental

“We applaud President Trump for committing to

Protection Agency (EPA) regulations limit the sales of E15

regulatory reform that will permit year-round, nationwide

by retail gas stations during summer months.

sales of E15,” said Kyle Gilley, Senior Vice President of

President Trump committed to granting RVP relief

External Affairs & Communications, POET. “This action

without tying it to any refinery-backed limits on Renewable

will grow biofuels and create market demand for the

Identification Numbers (RINs) — the primary mechanism

commodities raised by farmers struggling with economic

to ensure that refiners blend biofuels — and the Renewable

hardships across the Midwest. Small refiners already

Fuel Standard (RFS). “We’re going to raise it up to 15

received their reprieve through recently exposed waiver

percent and raise it to a 12-month period,” Trump told

requests from the EPA. We are grateful President Trump

reporters, also saying that decision “makes a lot of farmers

is following through on his commitment to protect the RFS

very happy.”

and support rural America.”


MARCH 1, 2018

Senator Ted Cruz puts hold on Bill Northey’s confirmation to USDA


JAN. 22, 2018


Philadelphia Refinery PES declares bankruptcy



FEB. 27, 2018 Bill Northey Confirmed

DEC. 7, 2017 Senator Ted Cruz promises “win-win” solution at White House meeting with oil state senators


AND RENEWABLE ENERGY GROUP) Broin and others discussed the importance of the RFS to the nation’s economy and rural America and how lifting regulations on E15 sales would promote growth on all sides and lower RIN prices.

President Trump proposes permanent RVP relief for a twoyear RIN cap and requests parties to consider alternative options.

MARCH 6, 7, 13 Growth Energy Board meets to discuss developing situation and RVP + Multiplier concept.

MARCH 7, 2018 POET’s general managers joined 150 biorefiners in sending a letter to the Trump Administration to reinforce the importance of RINS and the RFS in protecting American jobs and rural communities.

POLICY CORNER White House discussions around RINs and the RFS ramped

Administrator Pruitt issued refinery waivers, industry

up in late 2017 after Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) proposed a 10-

leaders responded to White House and USDA requests

cent cap on RINs. The biofuels industry made it clear to

to evaluate solutions that would grant RVP relief while

the White House, United States Department of Agriculture

lowering RIN compliance costs for refiners. POET, along

(USDA) and EPA that Sen. Cruz’s “RIN Cap” proposal was

with Growth Energy, Green Plains Renewable Energy and

unacceptable. It would destroy incentives for refiners to

Archer Daniels Midland, developed the RVP + Multiplier

blend homegrown biofuels, jeopardize thousands of jobs

concept for biofuel market growth. However, Pruitt’s

and family farms across the Midwest, and further reduce

actions now have negated the industry’s interest in offering

demand and prices for U.S. grain.

further relief to refiners.

From meeting twice with President Trump to having

The focus now, biofuels industry leaders say, is to hold

ongoing dialogue with our Senate champions, POET has

the EPA accountable to the President’s commitment to RVP

been a leader in conversations to stress the importance of


higher biofuel blends and the RFS to the nation’s economy

“The President … knows that rural communities are

and rural America.

hurting, and this is an easy way to help, simply by lifting

“Year-round E15 sales would create more demand for the

an outdated regulation against wider choices at the pump,”

feedstocks we use to produce biofuels. RVP would grow the

said Brooke Coleman, Advanced Biofuels Business Council

market for biofuels and increase demand for surplus grain.

Executive Director. “But refiners have held E15 hostage for

It’s a clear win-win-win for America’s farmers, biofuel

years, and they always want more. For this to help farm

producers and merchant refiners,” Gilley said.

families, it will be important that the White House continues

Biofuels industry leaders have worked collaboratively in

to steer clear of refiner-backed changes that would gut the

response to requests in order to advance RVP relief. Before


MARCH 9, 2018

MARCH 15, 2018

Administrator Pruitt convenes a meeting with two biofuel producers and two merchant refiners.

Growth Energy submits the RVP + Multiplier Plan to USDA for evaluation.

MARCH 13, 2018 USDA Meeting with Archer Daniels Midland, Growth Energy, Green Plains and POET. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue backs up President Trump and says that maintaining the status quo in the RFS Program isn’t an option.

APRIL 9, 2018 Meeting with President Trump, Administrator Pruitt and Secretary Perdue to discuss biofuel reform. No public statement is released.

MARCH 10, 2018

MARCH 14, 2018

APRIL 12, 2018





More than 150 farmers, POET team members and other biofuels supporters showed their support for the RFS during a rally at the farm of Bill Couser in Nevada, Iowa.

Broin discussed how a RIN cap is not acceptable to farmers in rural America and discussed a RVP + Multiplier concept for biofuel market growth developed by POET, Growth Energy, GPRE and ADM.

In a White House meeting with farm state senators and governors, President Trump signifies the administration is working on regulatory reforms that will allow year-round access for E15. 7


POET PAC Spotlight: Why I Give POET PAC is a non-restricted Federal Political Action Committee (PAC) formed to give our industry a voice in the fight. Read why these two individuals invest in the future of biofuels by being part of POET PAC.

Name: Jesse Green | Hometown: Harcourt, Iowa Tell me about your connection to POET.

which means our voice needs to be stronger. The PAC helps

I farm 21,000 acres with my father, brother and nephew.

Why should others give to POET PAC?

accomplish this.

Twelve years ago we were approached by POET, and we have been bringing our corn to them ever since. POET has been a great addition for producers in this community and for the quality jobs it provides. I won’t forget the excitement of having a new investment and a new industry coming

We cannot take for granted the various organizations that represent agriculture in Washington. Giving to POET PAC strengthens the voice of biofuels, which will ultimately impact all producers in a positive way. It takes financial support to do this.

to our area. It was during that time when my father decided to invest in on-the-farm

Is there anything else you want to share with our readers?

storage to accomplish two goals: to be a more efficient operation during harvest and to be a reliable

Do not take the resources we

supplier to POET to ensure long-

have for granted. Those of

term success.

us in the ag business have

How did you first hear about POET PAC?

a good thing going and our future is bright. We are the leading producers of

A few years ago I was asked by




world, and the increase in

POET to encourage my neighbors

ethanol consumption makes

to engage our congressmen and

that possible. I am extremely

ask them to support the Renewable

grateful for POET and how they

Fuel Standard. To do this, I gathered

actively support my community and

letters from other producers and made

many others. We need to work together

my contribution to POET PAC.

to make our voice strong and help push the need for biofuels forward locally and in Washington. Your

Why do you give to POET PAC? I firmly believe that producers are a small portion of the population, and they need to utilize every tool they have to get the ag message out there. We need a seat at the table. Producers continue to have more challenges each year

gift to POET PAC will make that possible. Jesse Green, his nephew Braden Spillman and brother Steve Spillman.

Contributions to POET PAC are not tax-deductible for federal income tax purposes. Contributions to POET PAC will be used in connection with federal elections and are subject to the limits and prohibitions of federal law. The maximum an individual may contribute to POET PAC is $5,000 per year ($10,000 per couple). Corporate and foreign national contributions are not permitted under federal law. Please make checks payable to POET PAC. Federal law requires us to use our best efforts to obtain and report the name, mailing address, occupation and name of employer for each individual whose contributions aggregate in excess of $200 per calendar year. Your contribution to POET PAC is strictly voluntary.





Name: Lawrence Schwanke | Hometown: Farms in Stewartville, Minn., and also has a residence in Minneapolis Tell me about your connection to POET.

Why should others give to POET PAC? When you buy a tractor you make a significant investment

In the mid to late 1990s there were a number of ethanol

in your farming operation. As time passes the tires wear

plants starting up. When the effort was made to get the

out and it isn’t as effective as it was when the tires were

one started in Preston, I was interested in being involved

new. If you don’t invest in new tires, you are going to use

because it added value to the corn I grow. From

more fuel, less work will get done and you are not going to really utilize the investment to its

there I joined the board and have served

best advantage. Like a new tractor with

multiple terms.

good tires, your investment in the

How did you first hear about POET PAC? Through


biofuel industry is an important asset for you. Investing in POET PAC allows for you to have a positive impact on that legal


and regulatory environment

on the board. The Preston general


that influences how successful


the renewable fuel industry

POET representatives from

will be. If you don’t, you allow

Sioux Falls explained the

Big Oil to shape the legal and

importance of the PAC and

regulatory environment that

how the dollars strengthened

producers depend on, and Big Oil

the rural voice in Washington.

is not known as a friend to farmers and ethanol.

Why do you give to POET PAC? I think giving to the PAC adds value to the corn we grow. The future of producers is greatly influenced by those who create the regulatory climate in Washington. Too often these individuals do not support renewable fuels and are not good for our industry. The investment we have made in the biofuel industry will be more successful if we have true champions in Washington. Giving to the PAC is my opportunity to take action to help elect representatives and senators who have some understanding of the industry. This gives producers a greater chance to have a successful renewable fuels industry.

Is there anything else you want to share with our readers? I think that POET has done a good job of hiring people to work in government affairs in Washington. They know the lay of the land in D.C. and use PAC dollars to educate and build relationships with those who support biofuels. The more dollars available, the more effective the POET government affairs representatives can be. It is important to remember that we cannot match the deep pockets of Big Oil but we have a powerful message, and your support of POET PAC will get that message out.

How do I join?

(605) 965-2377



Reduce Reuse Recycle

Chancellor South Dakota

At POET – Chancellor, roughly half of the plant’s energy needs are supplied by renewable energy. The plant produces biofuel with the lowest carbon intensity of POET’s bioprocessing facilities, utilizing landfill gas and biomass for energy. The plant uses methane from the Sioux Falls Regional Sanitary Landfill. The gas is collected and compressed at the landfill and travels through a 12-mile pipeline to the Chancellor facility. This methane gas is used as fuel in the plant’s distillers dried grain dryers and offsets our dependency on natural gas. Additionally, Chancellor’s solid fuel boiler burns wood chips collected from the surrounding community to produce steam to run the facility. The wood chips offset more natural gas and make up about 40 percent of the plant’s total energy consumption.

Several POET bioprocessing facilities employ additional practices beyond POET' four key environmental stewardship practices (BPX Technology, POET's patented raw starch hydrolysis process; combined heat & power; carbon capture and total water recovery) to lower their environmental impact even further.


  Big Stone

South Dakota POET - Big Stone is located next to a power plant, resulting in environmental benefits for power and water usage.

Lake Crystal Minnesota

POET - Lake Crystal obtains electricity from a solar field.

Laddonia Missouri

The Environmental Protection Agency has recognized POET Ladonnia with an Energy Star Reward because of energy efficiencies from an on-site turbine.





Dakota Gold Brand Has Gained Recognition Abroad, ‘Become Synonymous With Quality’

POET Nutrition Technical Services Director Kevin Herrick (far right) along with U.S. Grains Council representatives tour a swine farm in Vietnam.



This Vietnam feed mill provides feed to swine and poultry producers in the regions around Ho Chi Minh City.

In 2010, POET’s international export

to barges and ocean-going freighters

in the animal feed business and POET

market for Distillers Dried Grains with

that dock in harbors from Ireland


Solubles (DDGS), a nutritious animal

to Indonesia. They just finalized the

Ghaly, who got his start in the

feed, consisted of shipping the biofuel

three-year, paperwork-heavy process

industry in 1995 as a grain trader

coproduct to a handful of companies

of getting Dakota Gold registered to

based out of Egypt, began working

in five countries.

sell in Japan. They are scoping out

with POET in 2010 and was one of the

Much of the actual marketing and

new markets, from Australia to the

first people to market Dakota Gold in

selling took place through a broker.


the Middle East.

The shipping itself was outsourced to

“Our international presence has

“Imagine the effort of going to each

a third party.

increased markedly in the last five

and every country in the region and

to ten years,” says Isaac Crawford,

talking to each and every sector of

team coordinates every aspect of an



the industry — the dairy sector, the

international supply chain that ships

Merchandising at POET Nutrition,

poultry sector, the aqua sector,” Ghaly

roughly one million tons per year of

POET’s animal feed division. “We

says. “They didn’t even know what

its Dakota Gold — now maybe the

have built those relationships and

DDGS were.”

most recognized brand name in DDGS

made the supply chain very efficient.

Today, he’s in Oman, fresh off a

— to 29 countries. POET sells another

Buyers want to get to know producers,

flight from the United Arab Emirates.

four million tons of DDGS in the

and we have worked hard to get to

Tomorrow morning, he’ll be meeting

United States.

know our international customers.”

with a nutritionist and the buyers for

The export team has set up a full-

Getting to know those customers

an animal feed company, discussing

time office in Mexico. They have built

includes regular in-country visits by


relationships from Bangladesh to

POET partners like Diaa Ghaly, the

of Dakota Gold to bulk pricing to

Brunei, and Colombia to Cambodia.

Global Feed and Grains Director for

shipping terms.

They rent railcars to move shipments

the U.S.-based Al Dahra ACX, a leader

















POET Nutrition Merchandiser David Kiesner at the Vietstock trade show in Vietnam. POET was an exhibitor and presented at a scientific session.

consistent product (all of POET’s 27

in-country point person for the POET


bioprocessing facilities follow the

team back in South Dakota. He’ll

revolutionary new BPX process, a

same guidelines to create Dakota

explore local ports, research area

breakthrough that converted starch

Gold), competitive prices and a high-

regulations and help determine truck

to biofuel without cooking, which

quality protein content. Dakota Gold

or train carriers.

meant better nutrition due to less heat

optimizes milk production in dairy

“The technical support that POET

damage. Dakota Gold was born.

cattle; lowers production costs for

provides is very special,” says Ghaly.

Dakota Gold is not your average

swine, poultry and dairy; improves

“They give free-of-charge support to

DDGS. POET’s Dakota Gold DDGS is

digestibility; and enhances yolk color

their customers all over the world.

held to the highest standards in the

in eggs.

POET goes the extra mile of benefiting

industry. Within the POET system,

If the company decides to buy

and talking to the customer.”

every pound of DDGS undergoes a

Dakota Gold, Ghaly will serve as the

That service, coupled with Dakota

strict quality check to ensure it meets

Gold’s history of high-quality results,

those high standards when it comes

has made the product a brand name

to the product’s uniform particle

in the region.


“Today, if you go to the Middle East

the animals will like its flavor) and

and North Africa and you ask people

high nutrient value. That’s just for

about DDGS, they won’t call it DDGS,”

POET’s “commodity DDGS.” To qualify

he says. “They’ll call it Dakota Gold,

as Dakota Gold, the DDGS must

because the brand has established

qualify for an even tighter quality

itself and become synonymous with

tests to meet the customers’ needs.


Those DDGS are also put though

Dakota Gold has come a long way in

Dakota Gold’s patented BPX process,

a short time. Early on, POET Chairman

which increases the nutrient value,

and CEO Jeff Broin had recognized


that biofuel coproducts — specifically

creates the most digestible DDGS in

DDGS and, later, carbon dioxide and

the industry.

corn oil — were critical components

Today, POET produces over four


million tons of Dakota Gold annually,

Today, if you go to the Middle East and North Africa and you ask people about DDGS, they won’t call it DDGS. They’ll call it Dakota Gold, because the brand has established itself and become synonymous with quality.

















which makes up roughly 85 percent of


POET Nutrition Vice President of Trading & Merchandising Isaac Crawford, POET Nutrition Technical Services Director Kevin Herrick and Aldahra representative Diaa Ghaly meet with Nadec Dairy in Saudi Arabia. Nadec is one of the largest dairies in Saudi Arabia and is milking close to 75,000 cows.

its total DDGS production. And DDGS

top three.

POET has a history of recognizing

have become the nation’s second-

POET products make up roughly 10


largest animal feed ingredient, behind

percent of total U.S. exports of DDGS,


corn, according to the U.S. Department

says Andy Lindsay, Merchandising

teams. In the early 2010s, when POET

of Agriculture.

Manager for POET Nutrition. Lindsay,

saw that potential for international

While the domestic sales of DDGS

who works with the container and

growth of DDGS, they began making

have remained relatively stable over

bulk exports, recently returned from

plans to bring that outsourcing in

the last few years, the production of

a week in Colombia, where he met


DDGS continues to increase faster

with seven potential buyers of Dakota


than the production of domestic


directly for this project, Crawford,


“We have really ramped up our

Skuodas and Lindsay — all of whom






really grown over the last 10 years,” says Mike Skuodas, Vice President of Operations at POET Nutrition. “We have a much bigger supply. There’s only so much that can be consumed here.” Domestically, the total production of DDGS has grown from 40 million tons in 2012 to 50 million tons in 2017. “We have to find other homes for those extra tons, and that’s the international market,” says Skuodas, a 28-year veteran of the ag and food


Dakota Gold is the best product out there, and we’re finding the best ways to make sure everyone — everywhere around the world — knows that.











started at POET roughly six years ago — soon found their focus on the international marketing, sales and shipping of DDGS. “POET used to work with companies that shipped the DDGS for us, that acted as a seller for us,” says Skuodas. “Now we’re doing all that stuff right here. We developed the expertise within our team to do these things. We are moving the product all the way through the chain and adding value to the POET system.” The focus also shifted to those direct

industry who has spent the past

relationships with customers.

six years at POET. “There’s a lot of

“We’ve learned a ton in the past

growth in the overall world feed

five years,” says Skuodas. “We’re

industry outside of the United States.

always looking at ways to optimize

Fortunately, we were one of the first

international customer visits,” says

our export process. But maybe the

companies to really recognize that.”

Lindsay, who started at POET five

most important thing we’ve learned

In 2006, according to the U.S. Grains

years ago. “We’ve been more active

is that we need to be there in person,

Council, the United States exported 1

in trade shows and with the U.S.

to promote our product, to see for

million tons of DDGS.

Grains Council, which has a lot of

ourselves the best way to get it there

In 2017, that number was just over

international contacts. We’ve hosted

and to build those relationships.

11 million tons, with Mexico (2.1

more international groups. We’ve

Dakota Gold is the best product out

million tons) as our top importer.

visited more countries and customers

there, and we’re finding the best ways

Turkey (1.4 million tons) and South

and really just tried to get the Dakota

to make sure everyone — everywhere

Korea (1 million tons) round out the

Gold name out there.”

around the world — knows that.”



Southern-based Protec Fuel Has Long History of Supporting Higher Biofuel Blends Steve Walk guides Protec effort with enthusiasm, persistence by Angela Tewalt

In business, how can you be sure you have a good

retailers to provide E15 access and assists early retail


adopters of higher-level biofuel blends by awarding grants

When you can convince your competitor to buy it.

to help with their initial investments in infrastructure.

In Florida, biofuel distributor Protec Fuel has not only


reveled in their opportunity to participate in Prime the


Pump but also chosen to target oil-branded retailers for


biofuel distribution, and they are still successful.

“At Protec, our mission is simply to help stations and

Prime the Pump targets high-volume, high-profile

retailers become more successful,” Walk says. “Yes, we


operating spreading

officer, the




Walk, the

is E15

fought through that major oil-branded spectrum, but it’s because we knew E15 would give retailers a great, unique competitive advantage, and having that variety of offerings would make their station that much more successful.” Protec’s diverse customer base gives them an advantage as well. Their solid relationships with both mega chains and single store mom-and-pops alike help them improve the way they market and sell E15. “Our wide variety of customers have given us amazing intelligence,” says David Kaiyalethe, marketing manager at Protec. “As a distributor, we are able to take that feedback and provide our retailers with strategy, education, marketing support and customer insight that is going to make their particular location successful. “Put simply, we know what will work in any conceivable location,” he says. Mike O’Brien at Growth Energy has noticed Protec’s hustle, and he appreciates Walk’s enthusiasm. “When E15 came along, Steve was one of the first retailminded people to really jump on board,” O’Brien says. “Protec has a long history of supporting higher blends of ethanol, and Steve has done a tremendous amount of work in the south.” O’Brien says that Protec was one of the first companies to apply for a Prime the Pump grant. They launched with 16 stations in Georgia, five in Florida and three in Texas. “But the fact that those locations were primarily oilbranded was so unique to us,” O’Brien says. “And quite frankly, our ability to penetrate that market has been











opposed to E15 getting ahead in the market, but Steve’s drive will really pay off in terms of how we penetrate branded oil sites in the future.” Today,


distributes E85 to over 400



About Protec Fuel Protec was founded in 1999 in Boca Raton, Fla., and is one of the largest distributors of biofuels to both independent retailers and government fleets in the United States.

200 of those also offer E15 — across the south, Steve Walk accepts the 2017 TOBI Award for Market Development from Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy.




Atlantic areas. Walk says their goal for 2018 is to add at least 200 more stations on top of what they’ve already done.

Yes, we fought through that major oil-branded spectrum, but it’s because we knew E15 would give retailers a great, unique competitive advantage, and having that variety of offerings would make their station that much more successful. Steve Walk, Protec CEO

“We will continue to look for likeminded retailers who are equally as passionate as we are about providing a great product to the general public,” Walk says. “Once every generation something unique comes across the fuel industry that really is a game changer, and E15 is that fuel. We are ecstatic about E15.” Growth Energy recently celebrated Walk’s enthusiasm by honoring him with the 2017 TOBI award for market development, an annual recognition for those who show extraordinary leadership in growing the biofuels industry. “Really,





accumulation of all the work Steve has done over the years,” O’Brien says. “He flies under the radar and hasn’t gotten the recognition he deserves for growing his business and helping all the retailers he has.” “Steve has been lockstepped the entire time,” O’Brien says, “and he is our unsung hero.”


Protec distributes E85 to over 400 stations, of which over 200 of those also offer E15. Their current geography focus includes Maryland, Virginia, Florida, Texas, Georgia and Ohio. In the middle of their Prime the Pump initiative, Protec received grant funding through United States Department of Agriculture’s Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership (BIP), a state-led effort investing $210 million to evaluate innovative approaches to marketing E15 and E85 while supporting farmers and domestic jobs and reducing the demand for foreign oil. BIP will conclude at the end of 2018, and Protec will resume their Prime the Pump initiative.



‘Salute to Farmers’ Float: Recognizing the Importance of Farmers by Brian Hefty When someone says the word agriculture, what do you think

farm, including a combine and tractor, the first thing we wanted

about? Unfortunately, many Americans today will say, GMOs,

everyone to notice was all the people on the float. Our 102

pesticides and food safety. While these things may play a role in

riders were family farmers from across the United States. What

agriculture, that’s not what I think about — and it’s certainly not

agriculture is really all about is families feeding families in our

the first thought we want anyone to have. The most important

country and around the world.

thing in agriculture is the people. We are fortunate in our

We also set another record: There were seeds from all 50 states

industry to have great, hard-working people who want nothing

covering the Salute to Farmers float. We asked Ag PhD viewers

more than to produce the best food possible for our growing

and listeners from across the U.S. to send in their seeds for the


decoration. Many also sent stories like this one: “We would like

If you watched the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s

this seed to be part of your Rose Parade float, because it was part

Day, hopefully you saw the Ag PhD Salute to Farmers float. The

of Granddad’s last corn crop.”

float set a record with 102 riders. Floats aren’t typically allowed

If you ever get the chance to go to the Rose Parade, make sure

to have more than a few people on board, but I wanted our float

you go out at least two to three days early to see some of the float

to have 102 because that’s the No. 1 thing I wanted viewers and

decorating. Every float must be covered 100 percent in plant

attendees to notice.

material. The Salute to Farmers float was the second longest

Approximately 50 million people watch the Rose Parade, and

in the 2018 parade at 110 feet. It was 18-feet wide and 30-feet

there are just shy of 1 million in attendance along the 5.5-mile

high at the peak. Imagine decorating that one seed, one flower

parade route. While we wanted those viewers to see replicas

and one leaf at a time! While the frame for every parade float is

of the modern equipment we use on the typical Midwestern

built over weeks or months during the year, all the decoration is essentially last minute. It is an amazing process, and one that happens in just five days leading up to the parade. Thousands of flowers are individually set in water vials and placed on each float one by one. Thousands of volunteers work in shifts almost non-stop. Then, most floats are driven approximately 15 miles from where they are built in Azusa, Calif., to the parade route in Pasadena on New Year’s Eve. This drive requires a large, police motorcycle escort, and six to nine hours to complete for each float. Did I mention the float drivers are underneath the float with limited visibility in cramped quarters? The Tournament of Roses Parade was an incredible experience for us, and hopefully it helped spread the great message about what farmers do. In the United States, we have the safest, cheapest, healthiest and most abundant food supply in the world. That’s why we encourage all Americans to say,

The Salute to Farmers float at the Tournament of Roses Parade was decorated with seeds from all 50 states. 20


“Thank you, farmers!”


For years, we’ve been told that cellulosic biofuel is a “fantasy fuel.” And it is.

And now it’s going to change the world. For real.

So we’ve spent a decade planning, researching, and working hard to make that fantasy a reality. ®


Advanced Biofuels

REALWORLD CHALLENGE WITH A REALWORLD SOLUTION POET Sponsors SDSU Engineering Students’ Design Project for Capstone Course by BryAnn Becker Knecht | photos by Greg Latza



Part 1 of a series that focuses on POET’s partnerships with area universities.

Mitchell Sandey, Colin LeBrun, Caleb Lang, Brady Buck and Alex Koepke with the prototype in South Dakota State University’s Ag Engineering lab.



n many college engineering courses, project

design, hydraulic calculation and electrical schematics.

scenarios come from a textbook and lack real-world

The prototype, using a hydraulic ram, compresses the

constraints, like having to account for criteria such

material and then melts it into a tube shape. The project

as speed, safety and cost.

won first place in the industrial category for SDSU’s College

In other words, students might size a cylinder but

of Engineering Design Expo.

not have to consider cost. That’s not the case at

“They did a great job, and they seemed to really enjoy it.

South Dakota State University (SDSU) in Brookings,

It’s a real-world application on a piece of equipment that


nobody has ever developed for this specific application. You

SDSU’s Senior Design Capstone Program in the

can see the real-world value of this not only for cellulosic

Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

biofuel but also for anyone who handles this volume of

(ABE) allows students to tackle an industry-based project

bales,” Peterson says.

— and all the real-world loopholes, nuances and challenges

LeBrun now serves as the point person for the 2017-2018

that come with it.

capstone course students who are working on phase two

Students have the opportunity to select a project offered

of the project. Jud Evanson, Milling & Materials Handling

by a variety of companies. Industry sponsors present an engineering challenge for the two-semester course, designate a company point person, and supply funding to build prototypes and mockups. Colin LeBrun, a 2017 SDSU graduate who is now an engineer for POET, had his first opportunity to design a prototype from scratch during the capstone course. LeBrun, who had worked twice as an intern for POET, contacted the company in 2016 to ask if they had any potential projects

If we can get that back into the solid fuel boiler easily, it has great BTU value [British thermal unit, a traditional unit of heat]. We can burn the plastic and create steam for the plant.

for the course. POET presented a project to solve a material handling challenge at Project LIBERTY — POET-DSM Advanced


Biofuels’ commercial scale cellulosic biofuels facility in

Engineer, POET Design & Construction, also serves as a

Emmetsburg, Iowa — with the goal of eventually using it on

POET advisor along with Peterson.


Phase two of the project involves working on the feeding

LeBrun and two other classmates designed a prototype

device in the front of the machine and the cutting device

to more efficiently handle and compact the large volumes

on the back end. A lagging issue from the prototype from

of netwrap and twine removed from corn stover bales

phase one was that the machine needed to be manually fed

entering Project LIBERTY. POET has developed a machine

the material. “You had to physically take the netwrap off

to remove the netwrap and twine from the bales, but the

and feed it into the chamber. One of our main tasks was to

material proves cumbersome to transfer to the solid fuel

get the netwrap into that extrusion chamber,” says SDSU

boiler in order to reuse it for energy for the plant.

senior Caleb Lang, who is working on phase two of the

“If we can get that back into the solid fuel boiler easily, it

project along with Mitchell Sandey, Alexander Koepke and

has great BTU value [British thermal unit, a traditional unit

Brady Buck.

of heat]. We can burn the plastic and create steam for the

The students arrived at the idea to use two cylinders.

plant,” says Todd Peterson, Milling and Material Handling

They ran a few ideas past LeBrun and Peterson and then

Manager, POET Design & Construction, who has been a

made more design changes.

POET advisor on the project since fall 2016. “We thought, if

The second part of their work this year has been to

we can densify it, that would be an advantage to us in terms

automate the sizing system. They noticed that the sizing

of how we handle the raw volume of the material. What

of the end material was inconsistent. Their model uses a

we’re exploring is the densification of the material.”

hydraulic cylinder to push forward a hydraulically actuated

In phase one of the project last academic year, LeBrun

saw blade to size the log-shaped material into 4-inch-thick

and SDSU students Cody Myers and Grant Bose developed


a workable prototype. Students worked on a multistep

For Buck, the industry collaboration and real-time

approach in designing the prototype that involved machine

feedback is motivating. “It’s exciting to know we can test


About the POETsponsored SDSU Student Design Project Project LIBERTY utilizes corn stover as a feedstock to produce cellulosic biofuel. The stover is delivered to the plant in bale form. The round bales are wrapped by three layers of a polyethylene netting, while the squares are held together with six strands of polypropylene twine. The first step in the conversion of stover to biofuel at Project LIBERTY is to remove the netwrap and twine from the bales. POET uses a specially developed net wrap remover to separate the netting and twine from the bales. Once removed, the plastic is used as an energy source by burning it in the plant’s solid fuel boiler to create steam for the rest of the plant processes. The netting and twine are bulky, so an efficient method of conveying these materials to the boiler is highly desirable. The prototype designed by the SDSU students condenses the netwrap and twine that is removed from corn stover bales entering Project LIBERTY. The netwrap and twine is condensed into a log shape at the end of the process. Phase two of the process involves automating the sizing system at the back end of the process to size the log-shaped material into 4-inch pucks to more easily transfer it to the solid fuel boiler.


The net wrap and twine is condensed into a log shape by the end of the process.

our ideas. You definitely take more pride in your work. You’ll either benefit or suffer from the work you put in beforehand.” That’s a lesson that lasts beyond a final exam grade. “At the end, our students get to see their projects in action and listen to the feedback from the people that will be using our product. Students will remember the industry feedback much longer than they ever will remember a grade on a homework assignment,” says Van Kelley, PhD, Department Head of ABE at SDSU.

At the end, our students get to see their projects in action and listen to the feedback from the people that will be using our product. Students will remember the industry feedback much longer than they ever will remember a grade on a homework assignment.

The goal is to develop a workable prototype by this spring



SDSU Ag Engineering students discuss the project with POET engineer and SDSU alumnus Colin LeBrun (center), who serves as an advisor for the project.

and do further testing at Project LIBERTY. “Hopefully it’s

Kelley agrees. “Our faculty come to campus every day

a robust-enough design to stand up to the commercial

with the goal to inspire the nation’s next generation of

environment. The next step is to automate it, which

innovators and leaders in agriculture. Strong industry

is something we would do in house with the process

connections with innovators like POET keep our students at

automation team,” Peterson says.

the forefront of the agricultural industry.”

This industry collaboration offers benefits on all sides.

The Senior Design Capstone Program offers myriad

“It’s a great opportunity for POET to engage students on

benefits to students. They have the opportunity to learn

something that is an active problem looking for a solution

collaboration skills and ways to improve their projects,

for POET. It’s a great thing to get a dedicated group of

notes Douglas Prairie, P.E., Instructor of Agriculture and

students on it and let them work toward a solution,”

Biosystems Engineering at SDSU. “Students learn project

Peterson says.

communication skills and learn to see themselves as



Colin LeBrun, Brady Buck, Mitchell Sandey, Caleb Lang and Alex Koepke work on the project in South Dakota State University’s Ag Engineering lab.

It keeps us in contact with these up-and-coming engineers. We want to know them. We want to talk with them. If we can engage them early on in internships and engage them in programs like this and they like it, that keeps the pipeline going for POET.


independent contractors on a project. They learn budget estimation, time management and collaboration skills, as well as how to improve their projects,” Prairie noted. Peterson says part of the value for POET is to help with talent development at POET. “It keeps us in contact with these up-and-coming engineers. We want to know them. We want to talk with them. If we can engage them early on in internships and engage them in programs like this and they like it, that keeps the pipeline going for POET,” Peterson says.


Investing in Knowledge American Ethanol taps Andy Randolph, technical director of ECR Engines, to teach the benefits of biofuels as an efficient, high-performance fuel by Ryan Welsh Ben Franklin, one of our Founding Fathers, was known for his

around a comparison of biofuels and gasoline.

wit, brilliant theories and overall gumption for a man in the late

“With ethanol, hydrogen burns very clean,” he explained.

1700s. A famous note we’ve taken to heart at American Ethanol

“Having some oxygen bound to the fuel increases oxidation

is, “If a man empties his purse into his head no man can take it

efficiency. Gasoline, however, produces more carbon emissions

from him. An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

when burned.”

Last spring, Dr. Andrew Randolph, technical director of ECR

Randolph demonstrated this by burning both biofuel and

engines, joined University of North Carolina - Charlotte for the

gasoline in different plates and showing the imprint of carbon

last EPIC speaker series of the semester to provide some insight

emissions. For biofuels, the oxygen that is contained in the fuel

on why the E15 biofuel is a valuable alternative for a variety of

reduces carbon emissions.

vehicles, from NASCAR vehicles to the everyday driver.

He explained that biofuel’s high octane number, which

Randolph’s research focuses on the combustion properties

quantifies the susceptibility of a fuel to autoignite, reduces

of alcohol-diesel and alcohol-oil blends, and has contributed

this susceptibility and aligns with automotive industry trends

to five NASCAR Cup championships with three different teams

toward smaller displacement, high-specific power engines.

as technical director of ECR engines. His analysis was based

Biofuel also has a high heat of vaporization that further

Dr. Randolph hosting Auto Mechanics at ECR Engines



Ethanol is the safest, least expensive octane booster. Ethanol has nearly three times the Hvap [heat of vaporization] as gasoline.




When ECR implemented fuel with higher biofuel blends into


NASCAR, the engine power increased slightly. This was because

provides a power boost via

the biofuel provided more cooling so the post-race piston

charge cooling.

hardness increased.

“Ethanol is the safest, least

When asked about the potential shift from 10 to 15 percent

expensive octane booster,”

biofuels, Randolph explained that it’s a slow transition because

said Randolph. “Ethanol

of older model cars.

has nearly three times the

“We have to work our way up slowly because of potential

Hvap [heat of vaporization]

difficulty with the calibration in older cars,” he said. “But I do

as gasoline. Power also

think we will go national. There will be no problems associated

increases with a cooler

with it in the future.”


We will continue to invest in knowledge at American Ethanol,






because increases.”

and the interest we accrue is showing to be fruitful.

Heat of vaporization is the

E15 is available in 29 states. North Carolina adopted it and is

amount of energy required

fifth in the nation. There are almost 1,400 stations nationwide.

to convert a substance from its liquid phase to its gaseous phase. He acknowled the higherheating value of biofuels that results in 34 percent

Dr. Andrew Randolph speaks at EPIC Energy Seminar.

less fuel economy than pure gasoline, but argued that the cost of fuel drops faster than the fuel mileage, making biofuel-gasoline blends a bargain. Another counterargument posed is that water is not soluble in gasoline, making it harmful to boat engines, but Randolph noted that any water in the fuel system is only an issue for boaters operating on pure gasoline. Randolph also addressed the notion that biofuels ruin small engines by explaining that small engines are calibrated “extremely rich,” so the fuel can aid with cooling. (The carburetor on the engine is set to run richer or heavier in fuel compared to air.) Small engines are set to run rich because it runs cooler and is considered to put less stress on the engine. Ethanol has cooling properties, so it is a win-win.






by Melissa Fletcher, Spiritual Care Advisor, POET

by Cole Fricke, Wellness Coordinator, POET

Journaling is a tool that can help us express our

Here’s a fun SPRING interval workout that’s designed

thoughts and emotions and even find spiritual

to get you and the kids outside enjoying that beautiful

renewal, no matter your age. Journaling can be simple

spring weather after being stuck indoors all winter.

or elaborate — the choice is yours!

Do 45 seconds of work for each exercise, followed

For example, my dad keeps a daily journal that

by 15 seconds of rest before the next exercise. You can

includes a few sentences to recap the day’s highlights.

do anywhere from one to three rounds, depending on

It’s simple but effective.

how you’re feeling. Just take an extra minute between

Journaling can also help us express our thoughts


to God. Prayer journaling is simply talking to God through a letter. When we write


Start in a crouching position with your hands reaching


down on the floor. Use your legs to jump vertically up

prayers, we can

in the air, making a large “X” shape with your arms and

keep track of what

legs. Land softly with your feet together, and go down

we prayed for and when








personally find this type of journaling very rewarding. Sometimes



in your crouching position.



Start seated with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

writing and sketching. If you are artistic,

Keeping the spine long and the abs engaged, lean back

drawing to express what’s on your heart can do

slightly and lift the feet a few inches off the floor. (To

wonders for the soul. You can also incorporate stickers

modify, keep the feet on the floor.) Slowly twist the

or photos to create a journal collage.

upper torso to the left and bring your hands beside

No matter what shape your journal takes, don’t

the left hip. Return to center, and then slowly twist to

worry about its format. This is your special journal to

the right and bring your hands beside the right hip to

put your own spin on that no one else has to see.

complete one rotation.

Here are a few tips for starting your own journal: 1. Organize your supplies (notebook, photos, colored pencils/pens, stickers, etc.) 2. Set aside a few minutes each day where you can express your thoughts, write a prayer, or draw a picture capturing your thoughts and emotions for the day. 3. Be creative. Try new things. 4. Every month review your journal and reflect on your journey. 5. Be thankful for every life moment: the joys, the hurts and the sorrows. Journaling is refreshing for your soul. So open your notebook, take out a pen and let the journey begin!



4 cups ripe diced tomatoes or 2 cans (14 oz. each) diced

I – INCHWORMS Stand up tall with your legs straight and drop your hands to the floor. Keeping your legs straight (but not locked), slowly lower your body towards the floor, and then walk the hands forward. Once in a push-up position, start taking tiny steps until your feet meet your hands.

tomatoes 2 tablespoons tomato paste 1 teaspoon mild chili powder 1 teaspoon cumin 1 teaspoon paprika Pinch of cayenne pepper (or more to taste) Pinch of sugar (optional, to taste) Salt and pepper, to taste

N – NINJA KICKS Start with your feet and hands on the floor, always keeping your hands on the floor. Instead of kicking straight back like a donkey when you push your feet off the floor, kick out to the side (like a ninja donkey). Land in the starting position.

6 eggs 1/2 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley (optional) Heat a deep, large skillet or sauté pan on medium. Slowly warm the olive oil in the pan. Add chopped onion and sauté for a few minutes until the onion begins to soften. Add garlic and continue to sauté until

G – GLUTE BRIDGES Lie on your back with your knees bent at 90 degrees and your hands at your sides. Push through your heels and use your glutes to lift your hips as high as possible. Pause and squeeze at the top, and return to the starting position.

the mixture is fragrant. Add the diced bell pepper and sauté for 5-7 minutes over medium until softened. Add tomatoes and tomato paste to pan; stir until blended. Add spices and sugar, stir, and


allow mixture to simmer over medium heat for 5-7 minutes until it starts to reduce. Add salt and pepper to taste.

It sounds more like a sneeze than something you’d

Crack the eggs directly

want to eat, but trust me, you’re gonna want this simple

over the tomato mixture.

and satisfying recipe again and again.

Space evenly over the

Ovo-Vegetarian, Gluten-Free


Prep time: 10 minutes


Cook time: 30 minutes

mixture to simmer for 10-

6 Servings

15 minutes, or until eggs are




cooked and the sauce has slightly 1 tablespoon olive oil

reduced. Keep an eye on the skillet to

1/2 onion, peeled and diced

make sure that the sauce doesn’t reduce

1 clove garlic, minced

too much, which can lead to burning.

1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped Garnish with the chopped parsley, if desired, and enjoy! (Recipe adapted from



Stover Harvest Gears Up Anticipation builds for the largest biomass harvest yet; veteran growers share their experiences by Susanne Retka Schill | photos by Greg Latza





The corn stover harvest is about

you have a flood. It doesn’t block up


to get much larger in the counties

our field cultivator when trying to

replacement has increased.


go through corn stalks. And you can




Emmetsburg, gains



however, Miner’s

potassium experience

make a few bucks doing it.”

illustrates another benefit of the


“We’re not taking a tremendous


Advanced Biofuel’s 20 million gallon

amount of stover off,” said Bruce

and business opportunities. Miner

cellulosic biofuels plant. “We’ll be

Nelson, who farms a few miles north

helps his dad farm 12 miles west of

increasing the acres and our custom

of Emmetsburg. “Typically we have 4

Emmetsburg at Ruthven. He holds

base by 50 to 60 percent,” said Allan

to 5 tons of biomass in the field after

Keller, Plant Biomass Manager, POET.

harvesting the grain, and we’re baling

The stover harvest — which removes

1 ton.”

a portion of the residue left after

Based on earlier research, POET

combining field corn — is bringing

recommends 1-ton removal as a

new economic opportunity to the area

sustainable level. After the bales are

as growers are paid for the collected

off the field, one can hardly tell which

biomass and others get involved in

corn fields were baled and which

baling and transporting the big bales

weren’t, Nelson said.

for processing at the plant. The goal is


economic, environmental and social



one tillage pass across the farm

Producers who have participated

on corn acres. On one part of the

in multiple stover harvests report

farm in particular, with plenty of

positive experiences. “I’m a big fan

rocks and rolling ground, stover

of it,” said Justin Eichelberger, who

removal has meant tillage could

farms 40 miles south of Emmetsburg

nearly be eliminated, Nelson said.

at Manson. “You don’t have [residue]

He reports minor impact on nitrogen

a full-time job and has a small cattle

blowing away or washing away if

and phosphorus levels from stover

operation. Beginning five years ago,











We take pride in not taking too much off. We don’t want to run dirt and rock through our balers, and I know people don’t want dirt showing.

he used his round hay baler to roll up his acres, along with a few neighbors. Since then, he’s added two balers and started a sideline business in the fall. “It’s given me an opportunity to build some equity,” he said. The other two growers have new sideline businesses as well. Nelson and a friend have created some fulltime and a number of part-time jobs, he reported, doing custom baling and hauling. Eichelberger and a friend also provide baling services around their community. “We take pride in not taking too much off,” Eichelberger said. “We don’t want to run dirt and rock



Biomass harvesting takes place in October 2017 on Craig Brownlee’s land in Emmetsburg, Iowa.

Nick Moiser changes the bale netting.



through our balers, and I know people

product in.”

few months. The plant is steadily

don’t want dirt showing.”

Keller explained POET’s goal is









to have the stover harvested and

thought process is changing to, ‘Can

harvest sounds more complicated

the bales moved off the field within

we do more acres?’” he said. “This will

than it is, he said. The chopper/

a week of the grain harvest being

be our biggest harvest, but we fully

spreader on the combine is turned


anticipate filling all our contracts.”

off and the stover dropped into a

“We usually are underneath that,”

POET has developed its model for

windrow to be baled without raking.

Keller said. “We utilize in-the-field

biomass contracts with flexibility,

As new growers are recruited, some

storage until the bales are needed at

Keller continued. “We try to allow

express concern, he added. “I don’t

the plant. Some are picked up real

farmers to be as involved as they

think the people around Manson are

soon, and some stay out there 12

want to be.” Producers can do their

that nervous about taking stover off. They’re more nervous that the bales are going to sit there a long time.” Nelson




commissioning challenges faced at the first-of-its-kind plant, some didn’t get those bales moved for several months. “If a guy has a Type A personality, it could really bother him,” Nelson said. He’s been a supporter of Project LIBERTY from the beginning, even working with some of the early prototype harvests. This fall will be the eighth season Nelson and his farming partners, his dad and uncle, have contracted their corn acres. The stover harvest has progressed, Nelson said. Today the backlog of bales on farmers’ fields has been eliminated. “Everyone had troubles



own baling and delivery, make their

We try to allow farmers to be as involved as they want to be. Most of our customers are receiving between $15 and $35 net per acre. The guys doing it themselves are making the most money, because they are managing the process.

own custom arrangements or, if they prefer, have POET’s team handle all the logistics. Payment reflects how much of the work they do. “Most of our customers are receiving between $15 and $35 net per acre,” he said. “The guys doing it themselves are making the most money, because they are managing the process.” As POET’s biomass team members meet with farmers to explain the program




protocols for baling, they occasionally call upon one of the researchers involved early on in determining how much residue removal would be sustainable. Douglas Scientist

Karlen, with


Research United

Soil States

at first, from the producer to POET,

Department of Agriculture Research

to the custom guys, but along the

Service based at Iowa State University,

way there’s a lot of answers that have

tells any group he talks to that, as a

come with experience.”

soil scientist, “my first priority is to

For example, Nelson mentioned he

take care of the soil. If you take care

has gained a better understanding

months — our pay structure is set up

of the soil, the soil will take care of us.

of where to site field stacks, better

to reflect that.”

That’s the ground rule.”

systems for hauling and unloading

He acknowledged the hiccups at

“Many of those producers are

bales, and the big one: “Now that the

the plant preventing timely deliveries

encountering residue management

plant is running better, it makes it

was a problem at first. “But the mood

problems,” he explained. He doesn’t

easier to schedule when to bring the

is drastically improving in the past






Biomass harvesting takes place in October 2017 on Craig Brownlee’s land in Emmetsburg, Iowa.

manage the residue, because that could disturb the root-zone carbon. “Intensive tillage really burns up the organic matter imbedded in the soil,” he said. He suggests producers consider sustainable stover removal instead.








with the

following crop plant, but less ground cover means soils warm more quickly in the spring, which in turn aids germination and field stands. POET’s approach to harvest corn residue has been conservative, Karlen said. “The target is 1 to 1.5 tons per acre and for the yields in the supply shed they’re working in, it is well within the guidelines of sustainability, even if the producer doesn’t want to reduce tillage. But I think they will find they can reduce tillage intensity.” When done right, there will be sufficient plant residue left on the soil to sustain and even slightly increase organic matter, he said. In talking about future sustainability and biomass harvests, Karlen said he can envision a time when perennial grasses will be deployed on degraded land or steep slopes. The corn stover harvest for ethanol is the first step in creating market demand for advanced biofuels and biochemicals that will call for additional biomass, he said. “The bottom line is we must have a long range vision to use the land sustainably, with greater diversity. It’s not only good from the energy perspective, but it’s good economics for the individual producer, for the community and the environment.”



Seeds of Change: Mission Grow Continues to Change the Lives of Kenyan Farmers



POET’s nonprofit organization, Seeds of Change, focuses on bringing quality education, reliable food supply and healthier environments to people around the world through its three missions: Hope, Grow and Breathe. Mission Grow specifically provides practical, efficient farming techniques that allow local Kenyans to significantly improve their quality of life. The project area is in Eastern Kenya, and over the last five years it has impacted half a million people! Learn about how James Mbithi and Josephine Mbinya have seen dramatic changes in their villages thanks to donations that have come through Mission Grow.

Africa Poultry Vaccination Changes Farmer’s Life James Mbithi lives in the village of Ukia in Kenya. With resources provided by the support of Mission Grow, his life has changed dramatically over the past two years. In fall 2015, James had only five chickens. After a visit from a Village Based Advisor, one of the local counterparts on the ground, he was educated on the importance

I can now plan for

increase his flock to 180 birds in a

community by providing a nutrient

little over a year.

dense food at a reasonable cost,

In spring 2017, James had a local

educates other farmers on the benefits

buyer request 100 of his chickens for

of vaccinating poultry and increases

an event. With the $800 that James

their income, creates a demand for

made off the sale, he was able to build

building supplies and laborers, and

a new chicken structure capable of

allows James to send his children

holding 2,000 chickens, as well as a

to school and gain an education to

new breed of chickens called Rainbow

continue building on the foundation

Roosters. This improved breed

their father has started.


hardy and matures in half the time of

“Through this venture, I want to

indigenous chickens. James now has

establish a ‘kuku’ (chicken) empire

more than 1,000 chickens and plans

that will give me returns,” James said.

to sell half of them in order to build a

“I can now plan for another child and

house for his growing family.

his/her future will be secure. With my

The benefits of a simple chicken

chicken business, I am sure I will be

vaccination that costs less than $.05

able to give the child the best that life

are rippling out to touch more than

has to offer.”

James and his family. It reaches the

another child and his/her future will be secure. With my chicken business, I am sure I will be able to give the child the best that life has to offer.






Newcastle disease. These vaccinations are an extremely cheap and effective way to prevent early poultry deaths. James began vaccinating all of his chickens regularly and was able to



Chinese Cabbage Helps Farmer Provide Additional Produce, Earn Extra Income for Her Family Water for irrigation is a constant challenge for many Kenyans, who largely depend on seasonal rains to establish and grow their crops. Some farmers in the regions supported by Mission Grow have begun using Micro-Irrigated



(MI-VEG) in order to grow a variety of vegetables without utilizing a large volume of water. Josephine Mbinya is one of these farmers and started experimenting with Chinese cabbage to provide some additional produce for her family. She had attended a local training, and the MI-VEG caught her attention because they required so few inputs: a bit of labor to dig a small pit, a plastic sheet to line the bottom, some manure and soil, and thorny branches to protect the plants from chickens. Only a small amount of water twice a week was necessary to establish and maintain

plant growth. Josephine




cabbage grew so well she soon had excess. She is now able to harvest three

Sixty farmers have taken up the MI-

times a week and makes $14 each

VEG technique in my

week at the open air market near her

village, and they have

home. This is a substantial increase to her income. It has allowed her to

beautiful pits bursting

supplement her family’s diet with

with greens. They now

healthy produce and given her the ability to provide adequate clothing

call me ‘mama mboga

for her children. Her next upgrade

safi’ (mother of clean

will be to improve her kitchen and buy all new utensils. “Sixty farmers have taken up the MI-VEG technique in my village, and they have beautiful pits bursting with greens,” Josephine says. “They now call me ‘mama mboga safi’ (mother of clean vegetables).”

Connect With Seeds Of Change 42



the best ideas

are the ones you haven’t thought of yet POET.COM

At POET, we’re not looking for easy fixes for obvious problems. We’re looking for the next generation of problem solvers, who can identify challenges we don’t even know exist yet. So if you’re more interested in unanswerable questions than answers that can’t be questioned, you’ll probably fit right in.

RENEW POET - Leipsic celebrates 10 years POET – Leipsic celebrated 10 years of biofuel production with a luncheon in January 2018 for POET team members and guests. Representatives from the offices of Gov. John Kasich, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Rob Portman and Congressman Bob Latta presented the team with congratulatory letters. Congratulations, Leipsic!



POET - Hudson Raises $1,000 to Relieve Student Lunch Debt POET - Hudson team members raised $1,000 to relieve student lunch debt at Alcester Hudson School District over the 2017 holiday season. The fund provides a lunch of a sandwich and milk to students with a deficit until their lunch accounts become current. Team members who contributed to the fund received a chance to win one of five POET quilts donated by Shift Supervisor Dorothy Dodge. She made each quilt with denim uniform pockets,

Hudson team hopes to continue

POET – Ashton Participates in Team Building Activity

its contributions to the school

In March POET – Ashton Shift Supervisor

lunch debt-relief program,

Jacob Kollasch led some newer POET

offering each student the ability

- Ashton team members through a

to have hot lunch on a daily basis.

“Strengths Finder 2.0” training. The

donated jean material, old T-shirt materials and photos. The POET -

training included a discussion worksheet, videos and a creative paper tower activity. They discovered the importance of seeing the strengths of others to work as a team.




POET, LLC Participates in Funski 2018 POET, LLC sponsored three teams that participated in the 2018 Media One Funski event. The fundraiser features a variety of winter events including skiing, fat tire biking, snowboarding, snow sculpture, cross country skiing and more. POET teams did well in both the individual time trial and headto-head competitions. The event raised about $35,000, which will go to supporting Children’s Inn, a domestic abuse shelter for women and children in Sioux Falls, S.D.



Inspiring the Next Generation of Heroes POET’s vision and mission to change the world is inspiring individuals of all ages, including Tate Mammenga, a fifth grader at Webster Area Elementary School near POET - Groton and Big Stone. Mammenga created this comic strip featuring an environmentally friendly hero for the course. We are extremely proud to play a role in inspiring the next generation of heroes.



RENEW Growth Energy Executive Leadership Conference 2018 More than 300 biofuels leaders and allies learned about the market and political landscape for biofuels in February 2018 during Growth Energy’s ninth-annual Executive Leadership Conference (ELC). POET Chairman and CEO Jeff Broin spoke several times, including presenting a speech on “Does Ag Need Biofuels?” and leading a panel discussion on the pending ag crisis. The panel compared today’s farm economy to the ag crisis of the 1980s, noting the role the biofuels industry played in pulling America’s farmers through those hard times. Broin was joined by several of the top agricultural leaders in the country including Zippy Duval (American Farm Bureau President), Roger Johnson (National Farmers Union President), Mark Poeschl (National FFA/National FFA Foundation President) and Chip Bowling (National Corn Growers Association President). Growth Energy also presented 2018 TOBI Award winners. Rob Walther, Vice President of Federal Advocacy, POET, received the TOBI Award for Advocacy. These awards serve as markers to the rest of the biofuels industry that these individuals have gone above and beyond in their service.

POET Chairman and CEO Jeff Broin (top), POET Vice President of Corporate Affairs Doug Berven (middle) and Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor all spoke at the 2018 Growth Energy Executive Leadership Conference.



POET Chairman and CEO Jeff Broin (far right) leads a panel discussion with agriculture industry leaders about the pending ag crisis.

Growing a future Get involved.


Matt Reiners Operates at High-Energy Pace to Keep Up with Family, Work by BryAnn Becker Knecht | photos by Greg Latza



Matt and Alicia Reiners and their children Wyatt, Chase, Isabelle, Austin and Harper at Wing’s Gymnastics Academy in Sioux Falls.

The day of a snowstorm this past

built a 12,000-square-foot facility and

Despite the chaos and long days that

winter, Matt Reiners found himself

are planning an expansion to house

usually end with dinner as a family

at home after 5 p.m. on a weeknight

the growing program.

around 9 p.m. and then lights out for

with nowhere to go.

“We knew it was going to be a big

everyone at 10:30 p.m., Matt wouldn’t

Weeknight activities for the Reiners’

change, and I was going to have to be

have his “typical” days be any other

five kids had come to a halt.

Mr. Mom. She basically goes to work


Hockey practice for their two oldest

at the gym when I leave work every

“The moral of the story is that our

sons was called off.

lives have been busy for 15 years.

There was no dance or choir practice. His wife Alicia’s gym in Sioux Falls, S.D., Wings Gymnastics Academy, wasn’t running programs because there wasn’t any school. “It was the most boring four hours of my entire life. I can’t imagine what other people do at night,” he says. Matt Reiners is typically going a mile-a-minute. Friends and colleagues describe him as high-energy and action-oriented — that guy who never slows down. As a Vice President of Business Development




POET’s animal feed division, his workday typically runs from 7 a.m. to

I realized how much it destresses me. Honestly, probably my only quiet time I get is my time in the tractor. It’s my one point of decompression. I love doing it — it’s hard to explain. It’s my little zen.

about 5 p.m. After


That is our normal. I think it’s fun. It’s a heck of a lot of fun,” he says. Perhaps the only place you’ll find Matt slowing down to pause is when he’s farming. Matt, who grew up on a family farm near Twin Brooks, S.D., didn’t realize how much he missed farming until he took it up again as an adult. “I realized how much it destresses me. Honestly, probably my only quiet time I get is my time in the tractor. It’s my one point of decompression. I love doing it — it’s hard to explain. It’s my little zen.” He and his dad purchased in 2012 what he calls a “hobby farm” outside of Harrisburg, S.D. Along with family friend Steve Messner, they farm corn


and soybeans. The hobby farm has

shuttling the Reiners’ five kids to

since grown from 50 to 500 acres. It’s



become a great opportunity for Matt

hockey practice and everything in

to spend time with his dad, and to





between. Alicia stays at home with

day,” Matt says.

have his own kids experience some

their younger children during the

“When I first opened the gym, I had

time on the farm.

day and works on her business before

been a stay-at-home mom for seven

“We started it so my kids could get

passing the baton to Matt for child

years,” Alicia says. “I said to him, ‘I

out of the city. My middle son, Wyatt,

care in the evenings.

want you to understand how this

is officially a farmer. He took his first

It’s a shift in home responsibilities

is going to affect your life.’ He said,

crop to the elevator last year and

that Matt signed up for when he and

‘Yeah, no problem.’ But I said, ‘I don’t

rented his first piece of land and fell in

Alicia decided to follow her dream to

think you know what you’re signing

love with it. It’s becoming something

open a gymnastics academy. When

up for.’ When it was time for him to

that all three of the older kids are

they started the business five years

take over [some of those household


ago in a strip mall, about 30 to 40 kids

responsibilities] he just did it. Having

Reiners describes his farming habit

enrolled, and 200 kids had enrolled

to learn how to juggle it together was

as his “golf game.” “I say to people,

by the end of the first year. They later


you invest in golf clubs and a golf cart,



The Reiners family at their family-owned business, Wing’s Gymnastic Academy, in Sioux Falls.


and I invest in a combine and a corn

Melmer has worked with Matt and

sons’ practice. He’s always looking to

planter. It’s a different hobby.”

other POET team members as part of

cultivate relationships with people

Matt, whose childhood home in

Growth Coach, a leadership coaching

and know them beyond just a face.”

Twin Brooks is about 20 miles from

program. “I told him, after I was done


the POET – Big Stone bioprocessing

coaching him, I felt like I needed a

college. Since then, they have stayed

facility, was already familiar with the


in touch through all the big life events.

company when he was hired by POET

Melmer attributes Matt’s success,

Yerdon also says that another one

in 2010. His father-in-law, Larry Ward,

both at home and work, to his ability

of Matt’s standout qualities is that he

and older brother, Dustin Reiners, had

to manage his time. “He’s masterful

is tenacious about driving for results.

both spent many years working for

at managing his margins, those small

Matt’s ag background comes through

POET in various positions.

bits of time that other people might

in that persistence, he says.

“I found this regulatory affairs

spend chilling out or doing something

“He’s a farmer at heart. When

job for POET Nutrition and the rest

that might be relaxing. He’s moving

he looks at an opportunity, he first

is history,” Matt says. While Matt

on to the next program or task.”

considers, how can we make this

started working in regulatory affairs,



work? And then he peels back the

he ended up moving to a sales role

Development Manager, POET, says

layers from there. If there’s value,

and then most recently moved into

Matt excels at developing relationships

he’s going to be out there trying to

a business development role when

with people in all aspects of his life.

capture it. Farmers are always looking

the company saw his talents in

“He has an inherent ability to talk

for that value-add. I still see that in

relationship building.

with people and build relationships,

Matt’s work today. When Matt sees

Matt’s high-energy personality is

whether it’s trying to do a deal for

opportunity, he goes for it. He’s not

evident in the workplace, too. Rick

POET or at the hockey rink for his

afraid to ask questions and get his







hands dirty.” Farming





opportunity to find a common link with





helps him with his day job and to understand “what keeps producers up at night.” “One of our goals is to be the most trusted partner for who we work for. It helps me to speak their language, establish credibility and understand their situation. It keeps me grounded in that world. It keeps me centered. It all starts with the farmer here at POET.” And so if Matt has taken up the responsibilities and role as “Mr. Mom” within recent years, he’s also taken up

He’s a farmer at heart. When he looks at an opportunity, he first considers, how can we make this work? And then he peels back the layers from there. If there’s value, he’s going to be out there trying to capture it. Farmers are always looking for that value-add. I still see that in Matt’s work today. When Matt sees opportunity, he goes for it. He’s not afraid to ask questions and get his hands dirty.

another mantle: farmer. “I realized that that’s a part of who I am. I’m a farm kid, and I still love to do it.”

Buck Yerdon, Commercial Development Manager, POET

MATT REINERS HOMETOWN Twin Brooks, S.D. EDUCATION B.A., Business Administration, Briar Cliff University, Sioux City, Iowa FAMILY Wife Alicia; children: Austin, 14; Wyatt, 12; Isabelle, 10; Harper, 2; and Chase, 23 months; plus two dogs, Cash and Lulu (chocolate lab, French bulldog)

Alicia and Matt Reiners watch daughter Harper practice at Wing’s Gymnastic Academy.

HOBBIES Farming, golf



ACROSS 1. Female voice 5. Humane org. 9. Pig homes 14. Croquet site 15. Steeped drinks 16. Words of refusal 17. Looks over 18. “Exodus” author 19. Cores 20. Advantage of ethanol as fuel 23. Go off script 24. Site of annual Nobel Peace

prize ceremony

25. Parrot 28. Dark, in verse 30. Smoothed 32. Jeanne d’Arc, e.g.: abbr. 35. Tear 38. “Fur ___” (Beethoven dedication) 39. Two of POET’s bioprocessing

plant locations

43. See ya!


44. Binge 45. Beast of burden


1. One of the Baldwins

32. ___ on you!

46. Sacred songs

2. 1972 Derek and the

33. Elizabeth I was the last one

48. New Haven college

34. Blue-pencils

51. Hosp. units

3. Like some jackets

36. Compass direction

52. Swedish auto

4. Discounted

37. Invasion time in WW II

55. Parish priest

5. Unyielding

40. “Told ya!”

58. A typical POET bioprocessing

6. Andean land

41. One not included as

plant will produce this number

7. Egypt’s capital

of gallons of biofuel in a year

8. Orgs.

42. High seriousness

61. Kind of review

9. Give away, in a way

47. Part of a jazz combo

64. “Don’t bet ___!”

10. Bud holder

49. “___ Abner” (Capp comic strip)

65. Minor go-with

11. Apple’s mobile/tablet

50. French pastry

66. “___ Jacques” (children’s song)

53. Make up for mistakes

67. “___ chance”

12. Suffix with differ

54. Already

68. Maladies

13. Cadillac model

56. Gangway

69. Object location system

21. Parker part

57. Makes muddy

70. Rams’ mates

22. Martinique, par exemple

58. Antitoxins

71. Part of R&R

25. Santa ___ (California track)

59. A touch

26. Coins across the border

60. Big name in magazine

27. Perfect places


29. Like some drinks

61. Producer, abbr.

31. “All over the world”

62. Plan for the future, maybe

63. Checked, as a box

Dominos hit

devices run on it

singers, for short

a member





To receive free information about products

55 AgCountry


or services advertised or listed in this issue, please contact advertisers via their web address.

17 BBI


GEA Group


Growth Energy

03 Novozymes





POET Nutrition



Seeds of Change


Eventually We Will Make a Joyful Noise by Scott Johnson, Data Systems Administrator, POET Psalm 98:6

Of course, I’m slightly exaggerating to prove a point. My

“With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise


before the King, the Lord!”

into a redemption story. We all start at zero. Even the world-

I suspect the author of this Bible verse did not have a fifth

renown musician Hans VerSchniedenhoffer was once a terrible

grader starting school band.

clarinetist. At age 11, he completely botched a simple solo at his

“Noise”? Definitely. “Joyful”? Let’s talk about that.

first Berlin Junior Symphony concert. He was so mortified and

Fifth grade is the first year kids have an opportunity to

shaken from his blunder that he accidentally knocked over his

participate in school band in our town. The first band concert

and two other neighboring

represents a culmination of their three-month musical careers. My daughter is one of several flute players in her grade. They prefer to be called “flautists” — the official musical term for flutists, fluters. Whatever. Seems a little pretentious considering three months and a day ago, most of these virtuosos couldn’t tell the difference between a saxophone and telephone. This fleet of flautists and fellow phenoms were attempting to appease my sophisticated musical palate for the next half hour. Failure was forthcoming. During that excruciatingly long half hour, I was afraid to look around the crowd, assuming I’d see the same horrified, uncomfortable looks on the faces of fellow parents (or worse, find out I was the only one with that look). The cynic in me said, “Yikes! these kids sound horrible.” The optimist in me said, “Yikes! These kids sound horrible. We should get ice cream after the concert!” It sounded like a flock of nauseated geese going through puberty. Then someone handed those geese clarinets to play. If a Gilbert Godfrey Christmas album and fingernails on a


A fifth grade band concert is the food equivalent of a bologna sandwich made from a loaf of slightly expired bread from a convenience store.

chalkboard had a baby, that baby would be a fifth grade band



music stands. Twice. He barely made it through the remainder of the concert, alternating



untimely clarinet squeaks, practically ruining the whole event for his fellow young bandmates. The experience was





Hans from ever touching a



again. Yet through support, encouragement and grace, he was persuaded not to give up.



and most importantly his parents tolerate

did his


simply musical

concert. That baby would also play the clarinet. A fifth grade

expression; they blessed it. Years later, Hans went on to be the

band concert is the food equivalent of a bologna sandwich made

most decorated clarinetist of his era, winning the coveted “Clari”

from a loaf of slightly expired bread from a convenience store.

award seven times and the unthinkable “UberClari” twice.

It’s distinguishable as food, but for Heaven’s sake, don’t give it a

The story of Hans VerSchniedenhoffer reminds us: We are all

clarinet to play! This was objectively the worst band concert I’d

fifth grade band students. Every time we start a new job. (Honk!)

ever attended.

Whenever we enter a new relationship (Squeak!) Any time we

The rockin’ recital helped reinforce a truth I had known for

wade into unfamiliar waters. (Squawk!) Initial imperfections

years: Kids are terrible at stuff. They can barely play musical

can discourage us, but they cannot be allowed to define our

instruments. Their artwork is all “abstract.” They can’t dunk a

future. Some people might disparage us. People might criticize

basketball, catch a fly ball, or reach the green on a par 5 in two

us. Some may even roast us and chide our abilities in a poorly

shots. They can’t grill a steak to a perfect medium rare. They

written back-page column of a quarterly biofuels magazine.

can’t drive a car. They don’t understand U.S. tax code. They can’t

Don’t give up. Keep playing. Eventually we will make a joyful

recite any lines from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” They should

noise. Footnote: Yes, I totally made up Hans VerSchniedenhoffer.

just quit trying and leave these advance tasks to the experts: us

Story still applies.





4615 N. Lewis Ave. Sioux Falls, SD 57104


is an endless resource


At POET, we understand that when it comes to energy solutions, the earth provides everything we need, no drilling required. Right here in South Dakota, we use renewable resources to create biofuels, nutrient-rich proteins and oil alternatives. Even after three decades, brand new innovations keep sprouting.

Vital Magazine - Spring 2018

Vital Magazine - Spring 2018