Fiber Factor

IABF Continues to Grow

Author: Article excerpted from Harlan News-Advisor By: Emily Bishop, Reporter
Posted: 06/25/2015

Iowa Agricultural Bio-Fibers, in Shelby County has developed new products that could possibly change the forefront of agriculture. 

The duo behind the business is Don Cordes and John Schechinger.

A core ingredient of their products is corn stover, which is the leaves, cob and stalk of the corn plant that often goes unharvested and unused. Corn stover is a good source of natural and renewable fiber that is easily accessible in Iowa.

The four products making up IABF are: livestock feed, bio-energy, litter/bedding and planting mulches. The products are pelleted in form, Cordes said because “corn stover must be processed to access its special qualities” in order to have “ high absorbency for cat litter and nutrient availability for livestock feed.” After the corn stover is processed it’s fluffy and light, and “pelletizing the light, fluffy processed stover makes it easier to handle and cleaner and more convenient for the customer,” Cordes said.

“Our hope is to bring a new product line to the marketplace each year,” Cordes said.

Currently they’re selling the livestock feed to sheep producers, cattle feeders, and those with horses in Iowa and Nebraska.

In the fall they plan to start selling the bio-pellets, litters the third year, and planting mulches the fourth year.

“It’s really going to do some amazing things,” Cordes said. “It’s my guess we’re starting something that’s going to spread.”

Cordes and Schechinger met when Cordes was doing research work in biofuels.

“I found the Schechinger name associated with a large corn stover harvest done in Harlan in the late 90s and I tracked John down from the article,” Cordes said.

Cordes and Schechinger found they had a lot in common, and they were trying to achieve similar things, leading to the creation of IABF.

The business was a “venture after retirement” for Cordes who has worked with logistics, system design, project development/management and bio-energy. Cordes serves as CEO while Schechinger is president. Schechinger has 35 years of agricultural experience and for the past 12 years has been working with harvesting and processing corn stover as well as other agricultural fiber.

“It was something I thought that needed to be done,” Cordes said.

The operations of the plant began in April. IABF’s plant is located five miles east and one mile south of Harlan, near a county water tower. They decided to base the business out of Harlan, Cordes said “because this is corn country” and “farmers are used to having stover harvested.”

“Within a five year period we hope to grow the business capacity,” Cordes said, from 100 tons a week to 30,000 tons a year.

Through their company they would like to rebuild jobs, the rural market, while doing so in an “earth friendly way,” Cordes said.

For more information about Iowa Agricultural Bio-Fibers mission and values contact Don Cordes CEO