McWilliams says large conventional processors use solvents to extract oil from soybeans, and the resulting meal contains about 1% fat. The Kansas operation is using a press system that produces meal averaging 7% fat. The higher-fat meal provides more energy in swine diets.

The press system was developed by Insta Pro of Des Moines, IA. The Kansas operation is relatively small, using the system to process about 30,000 bu/month.

"After the soybeans are cleaned, the system uses friction and pressure heating of the beans to over 300ºF, making a more digestible product for livestock," says McWilliams. "Presses squeeze out the crude oil separately, and the meal, in cake form, is conveyed to a cooler before being ground into soybean meal."

At current capacity the Kansas plant runs four days/week, 24 hours/day with four employees, says McWilliams. The plant cost about $1 million to build and was operational in less than a year and a half. The processor is a limited liability company that allows any farmer to deliver soybeans to the plant.