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2008 Ag Innovator of the Year: Northern Excellence Seed

Grass grows well in northwestern Minnesota. Being a turf seed producer like Northern Excellence Seed still means being choosy, though. It rejects about 20 percent of the seeds coming through its plant for conditioning.

Instead of treating this biomass as waste, Northern Excellence became excited by the promise of biomass gasification as a form of electrical generation. For its engagement in the development of this potentially important source of energy for rural Minnesota, AURI recognized Northern Excellence Seed with its Ag Innovator Award.

“This was a cutting-edge thing, and we put a lot of time and effort out there,” explains Brent Benike, the general manager of Northern Excellence Seed, who is both proud of that effort, and disappointed by the fact that the project never came to full fruition because other partners in the process stepped away.

Despite the disappointment, Northern Excellence remains strong in its forte: perennial rye grass, timothy and other turf seeds for lawns, roadside mixes, golf courses and sod contractors.