The back-story to aquaculture’s forward-thinking company
Prairie AquaTech began when two research scientists from South Dakota State University—William Gibbons, PhD, and Mike Brown, PhD—tackled development of efficiently produced, sustainable food for the world. Seeing aquaculture’s growth and promise, the two focused their work on the world’s depleting bait fish supply. Bait fish provide a crucial protein resource for aquafeed manufacturers.
Throughout the early 2000s, the two men worked on a process to extract high-quality protein from soybeans. Their innovation was successful enough to warrant commercialization and with that, a name was needed. Since the protein was coaxed from soybeans using Microbial Enhancement, “ME-PRO®” was minted.
After successful concept validation within the university system framework, large-scale aquafeed production was pursued in the private sector. It’s one thing to produce 5 gallons of ME-PRO in a lab “fermenter;” it’s entirely another thing to scale production to tens of thousands of tons annually. In addition, standards, testing, quality control, marketing and distribution needed to be successfully addressed if ME-PRO’s promise to aquaculture was to be realized.
In 2009, Prairie AquaTech (PAT) was formalized as a company and sights were set on the future of aquaculture protein production. The team grew to include production staff, experts in aquaculture and the leadership of proven entrepreneur Mark Luecke.
Mark provided key guidance in obtaining funding, staffing and collaborative partnerships to take Prairie AquaTech to the next level—one that would be capable of supplying aquafeed manufacturers around the globe with high-quality protein. To this end, aquaculture experts Bill Harris, PhD, and Steven Craig, PhD, were enlisted.
Their expertise in nutrition, aquaculture operations and feed production was immediately put to work. ME-PRO’s already-high protein content actually increased. A Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) was designed and put into operation, and an extruder-equipped feed mill was installed to test ME-PRO’s suitability for feed production. Soon, trials on fish began…
…and ME-PRO became ready for market as a protein ingredient.
Today, ME-PRO offers powerful features for aquafeed producers and farmers:
• 70% (as fed) protein• 100% digestibility
• Sustainably and traceably sourced
• Very low phytate levels
• Lowers phosphorus (P) discharge
• Easily extrudable
• Contaminant free
• No carotenoids or xanthophyll
• No “fishy taste”
• Economical, high value
Prairie AquaTech’s early success with ME-PRO hints at a robust future for its world-class AgTech Center, which is capable of bringing aquaculture technologies to the world. PAT technicians remain focused on new product development for the aquaculture market and the company’s entrepreneurial spirit of ideation, cooperation and strategic partnerships will continue to drive success in a competitive aquaculture environment.
Prairie AquaTech – Together!