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Taking the Initiative


Crookston, Minn. — AURI staff understand that good ideas come from paying attention and asking questions.

Besides helping businesses and organizations with value-added projects, AURI staff design their own initiatives. They pay attention to emerging trends that present opportunity. And they meet regularly with the state’s agricultural commodity groups and farm organizations to determine priority issues for each group. Many of those priorities could benefit large numbers of producers.

Whether the ideas come from inside or outside the organization, AURI initiatives aren’t attached to a commercial business, but they warrant research because they are potentially large-impact projects.

“We have been developing these industry-wide initiatives for a number of years and have found them to be very helpful in examining trends that have the potential to either use a lot of commodities in a new way or develop a new use that hasn’t been identified,” says Michael Sparby, AURI project director. “Unlike other AURI projects that are proprietary and provide the information only to the entity we are working with, whatever we discover in the course of these initiatives becomes public.”

Previous initiatives that have yielded valuable information include using the liquid leftovers from ethanol

production for fertilizer, evaluating agricultural biomass for use in deep-bed compost barns, investigating new uses for glycerin and determining the economic realities of pelleting biomass for energy.

“AURI was created to be proactive,” says AURI Executive Director Teresa Spaeth. “A large portion of our project portfolio is proprietary and the information can’t be shared. But these initiatives allow us to be proactive and recognize or even set trends on a broad scale.”¦