Biorationals Plant Opens in Iowa

New plant touted as the largest purpose-built biorational product manufacturing facility in the world.

Published on: Jun 30, 2014

It's touted as the largest purpose-built biorational product manufacturing facility in the world.

Three years ago Valent BioSciences Corporation announced the construction of a new first-ever facility designed and built for the sole purpose of manufacturing biorational products.  Built at Osage, Iowa, the$146 million, 130,000 square-foot facility held its grand opening June 27.

Biorationals include a broad range of sustainable products or substances used in agriculture, forestry and public health. Typically derived from natural or biological origins, biorationals include pesticides as well as products used for crop stress management, enhanced plant physiology benefits, root growth management and post-harvest benefits.  They typified as being highly specific in their activity while being environmentally safe.

COMMITMENT: Valent BioSciences has long-term know-how of the use of biorationals and the largest investment in research and development in the industry, says Ted Melnik, CEO.
COMMITMENT: Valent BioSciences has long-term know-how of the use of biorationals and the largest investment in research and development in the industry, says Ted Melnik, CEO.

"Biorationals are the fastest growing segment of agrochemicals used in crop production/protection," says Ted Melnik, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Valent BioSciences Corporation.

Melnik says the key drivers of this growth include maturation of the technology, adoption of integrated pest management, management of chemical residues at harvest, consumer awareness and regulations, and a consistent return on investment.

Osage was chosen because of the proximity to A-Z drying, who has finished and packaged products for VBC since the early 1970s. "We did consider other regional choices but Osage was favored because of the close availability of raw materials, but most importantly the great hospitality of the local community and the availability of a skilled work force with a strong work ethic," says Melnik. "Microorganisms require food to grow, primarily soy flour, corn meal and corn syrup and they are sourced right here in Iowa," he adds.

FERMENTATION: Large-scale fermentation is used to grow microorganisms using a proprietary process and sophisticated process control and monitoring. The fermentation process takes multiple days, with production time varying by the product. A proprietary media mix is inoculated with VBCs proprietary organism strains, continually tested for purity. Valves and piping allow for multiple inputs including air and nutrients.
FERMENTATION: Large-scale fermentation is used to grow microorganisms using a proprietary process and sophisticated process control and monitoring. The fermentation process takes multiple days, with production time varying by the product. A proprietary media mix is inoculated with VBC's proprietary organism strains, continually tested for purity. Valves and piping allow for multiple inputs including air and nutrients.

"All of our microbial products come from fermentation, as do most of our plant growth regulators," explains Melnik. Production capacity is considered confidential but Melnik says, "Our fermenters are at the 100,000 scale, but we can't say how many fermenters we have."

SUSTAINING THE INSECT POPULATION: VBC maintains its own population of mosquitos and caterpillars for testing their products.
SUSTAINING THE INSECT POPULATION: VBC maintains its own population of mosquitos and caterpillars for testing their products.

The plant includes state-of-the-art fermentation and related systems, a pilot plant for small-scale manufacture of products in development, analytical testing laboratories, and insectary, utilities building and shipping and receiving facilities. Manufacturing systems are dedicated and closed, so there is limited exposure to contamination.

Mosquitos and caterpillars are raised in the plant and used to test the various products. "By testing activity against a stable colony of insects both in-process and the finished product, we go the extra mile to provide evidence our products will perform as the customer expects," says Melnik.

"All of our microbial products come from fermentation, as do most of our plant growth regulators," explains Melnik. Production capacity is considered confidential but Melnik says, "Our fermenters are at the 100,000 scale, but we can't say how many fermenters we have."

VBC, as well as Valent U.S.A. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sumitomo Chemical Company, Tokyo, Japan. VBC sells products in 95 countries around the world. For more information, go to www.valentbiosciences.com.