27 June 2023, Iowa: Broadening its commitment to sustainability and corporate social value, Valent BioSciences LLC formally dedicated a new prairie park and solar field adjacent to its manufacturing facility in Osage, Iowa, on June 24. The company also opened the doors of its facility to members of the community, enabling them to see firsthand the broad range of sustainable biorational products that are made locally. The open house included remarks from leaders of Valent BioSciences, parent company Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd. and community partners, along with tours, informational displays, and a lunch for all attendees.
The Jiri-Rita Prairie Park is a 34-acre native prairie established to foster a diverse habitat for birds, butterflies, insects, reptiles, and small wildlife. It was created by reconstructing a native tallgrass prairie from local farmland. The prairie park features an ecosystem of native species of grasses, flowering plants, trees, and shrubs.
There are several walking trails in the prairie park open to the public. Each trail honors the memory of a champion of the Valent BioSciences’ sustainability journey
- Shane Wiltse served in the United States Marine Corps as a Sergeant. He began a successful career with Valent BioSciences in 2015 at the Osage manufacturing facility.
- Ron Maitoza advocated passionately for agricultural sustainability and was appointed the first director of the Valent U.S.A. Sustainable Solutions Business Unit.
- Robert Antone “Tony” Stolz had a long career in agriculture and worked for Pace International, a Valent BioSciences subsidiary.
- Royce Tack was a beloved Iowa native who served Osage for many years on several community boards.
The self-guided trails feature display gardens, including areas of native plants that provide habitat for monarch butterflies during their annual migration from Mexico to North America. This garden was established with the counsel and support of two local partner organizations, Pheasants Forever and the Mitchell County Conservation Board. Mitchell County 4-H donated 25 handmade birdhouses to provide refuge for migratory birds in the prairie park, while Osage High School Industrial Technology students built a welcome kiosk for the prairie park.
The reconstructed prairie will also be used as a living laboratory to study the impact of MycoApply® mycorrhizal inoculant on soil health and carbon sequestration.
The Maple City Solar Field, which began operations in December 2022, was built in partnership with OneEnergy Renewables and Heartland Power Cooperative. The 1.5-megawatt alternating current (AC) solar field includes 3,432 bifacial solar panels that produce 3.4 million kilowatt hours of solar-generated electricity annually, or enough to power the equivalent of 425 average-sized homes.
To further support its commitment to renewable energy, Valent BioSciences and OneEnergy Renewables are also donating 18 solar panels to the Osage Community Schools in conjunction with the event.
“The Osage Sustainability Celebration is our way of thanking the local community for their partnership over the years and showcasing the innovative technologies and initiatives that Valent BioSciences provides to the industry,” said Ted Melnik, President and CEO of Valent BioSciences. “We are extremely proud of our work here, which in partnership with local organizations, brings sustainable technologies to farmers and reduces our carbon footprint.”
Sumitomo Chemical Co. has targeted a 50% reduction of greenhouse gas by 2030 and has pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The prairie park and solar field are the latest Valent BioSciences sustainability initiatives to advance that commitment.
The Valent BioSciences facility in Osage is the world’s largest purpose-built biorational manufacturing facility, using the latest technologies to produce environmentally friendly inputs for products used in agriculture, public health, and forest health. At the plant, Midwestern corn and soybeans are fermented into commercial products using technologies that reduce energy usage, wastewater volumes, and overall carbon dioxide emissions. A major expansion that will significantly increase the facility’s manufacturing capacity is underway and is expected to be completed during the second quarter of 2024.
“The City of Osage appreciates our excellent relationship with Valent BioSciences, and the Osage manufacturing facility has been a strong partner with the community,” said Osage Mayor Steve Cooper. “We support the company’s commitment to sustainability, as evidenced by the new Jiri-Rita Prairie Park, Maple City Solar Field, and other initiatives at the plant. The prairie park is a valuable local asset that we believe residents will greatly enjoy.”
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