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K.I.B.A. Seed Cleaning cooperative hoping for RVC help with electrical upgrades

The Kathryn Irricana Beiseker Acme (KIBA) Seed Cleaning Plant cooperative is requesting $65,000 in financial assistance from Rocky View County (RVC), after recent instability in Beiseker’s power grid put the plant at increased risk for fires or

The Kathryn Irricana Beiseker Acme (KIBA) Seed Cleaning Plant cooperative is requesting $65,000 in financial assistance from Rocky View County (RVC), after recent instability in Beiseker’s power grid put the plant at increased risk for fires or mechanical failure.

“In Beiseker, about six months ago, they had only one phase for their (the Village’s) electrical system go down,” explained KIBA board chair Regg Poffenroth at a recent meeting of the RVC Public Presentations Committee. “We have three-phase motors. Those motors tried to start. Lucky those guys (our employees) were there or that plant would have burned down.”

KIBA plant manager Michael Kenzler recently told the Rocky View Weekly that Fortis Alberta has been having problems with deficiencies in Beiseker’s power grid, which has led to the current situation.

“The [Village] of Beiseker has at least 30 deficiencies on their three-phase power from what they have been told by Fortis,” explained Kenzler. “What they have done here is they have cut Beiseker’s main supply off, and are temporarily pulling power out of the City of Airdrie while they are doing these upgrades.

“Because of that all happening, and those deficiencies, what happened is when the power goes out, you have got one less phase working. And when that phase no longer works, you are not getting sufficient power into the plant.”

According to Kenzler, since the current KIBA plant was constructed in 1978, it has not had any major upgrades to its electrical system – and it uses an old-school start-up system for its seed sorters, which draw in a massive amount of power in phase one and then slowly ramp down to a sustainable level after that. 

Without phase one power available currently in Beiseker, the engine has trouble catching, and this leads to dangerous arcing on start-up.

“What it does is it starts arcing your start-up motors in your three-phase panel,” Kenzler explained. “It just squeals and cooks like it is welding. It will sit there and do that until that three phase power and motor is back up and running.”

It’s concerning enough, Kenzler said, that KIBA determined it was definitely time to put out the estimated $125,000 to $150,000 to fully modernize and upgrade the seed cleaning plant’s electrical system. 

However, Poffenroth said that given KIBA serves 95 per cent of farmers in Rocky View with their essential spring seed cleaning needs, and helps prevent invasive plants, insects and crop diseases like fungal fusarium head blight, from spreading in local fields, he hoped the County would be willing to contribute $65,000 to the long-standing cooperative, which was first built in RVC in 1956.

“Cleaning and treatment minimizes and/or eliminates weeds and plant disease in Rocky View County,” he explained. “Additionally, the seed treatment can be environmentally beneficial by reducing the number of (surface) spray applications of agricultural products.”

The plant under Kenzler’s management has a 99.5 per cent rating when it comes to purity of seed going into local fields, and the plant – being the only one currently operating in Rocky View County – also keeps sample records going back for over three years of each load it cleans and treats to help county officials monitor for pest, weed and disease threats. 

KIBA is, in many ways, RVC’s first line of defence against these types of threats by preventing them being introduced into the fields accidentally during spring planting. 

“Rocky View County comes here and inspects every year around November,” Kenzler said. “They will come an inspect several samples, and they will grade all that stuff (for purity). If you don’t pass, you are in big trouble. They are counting on us to make sure what gets in the field is clean.”

The KIBA Seed Cleaning Plant cleans between 750,000 and 900,000 bushels of seed each year, and provides subsurface fungicide and insecticide treatment for between 200,000 and 300,000 bushels of seed annually. 

The benefit of subsurface seed treatment, Kenzler explained, is it degrades in the soil and does no harm to beneficial insects like surface spraying does. 

“With seed treatment, when we treat seed it goes in the ground, and it only lasts for a maximum of 28 days and then degrades in the ground,” he explained. “The seed treatment allows that plant to grow to about four to six inches. We are making sure the plant doesn’t get eaten before it has a chance to grow from things like cutworms or wireworms.”

Rocky View County council will consider KIBA’s request at a future regular meeting.


Tim Kalinowski

About the Author: Tim Kalinowski

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