Weber Seeds, Inc., Marshall, MO
• Dan Weber, President
• Linc Klinge, Administrative Manager
• E.W. Browning, Seed Plant Manager
• Josh Souder, Assistant Plant Manager
• Sam Gibson, Grower Manager
• Bruce Barlow, Director of Sales
• Jeff Tietz, Agricultural Manager
• Soybean and wheat seed production.
• Family-owned business.
• New 2009 soybean, wheat seed
• Annual capacity: one million units.
• Over 100,000 sq. ft. warehouse space.
• Computerized grain storage manage-
• Mineral oil dust suppression.
|In 2009, the USDA projects that
Missouri’s harvested soybean acres will
rank fifth in the nation. Much of that
crop is produced in Missouri’s boot-heel
region along the Mississippi River.|
Another pocket of concentrated soybean
production is located in Saline,
Carroll, Chariton, and Lafayette counties
about 75 miles east of Kansas City,
MO. Here in central Saline County is where
Weber Seeds is located.
“We are somewhat isolated from the
rest of Missouri’s soybean production,”
says President Dan Weber, Weber Seeds
Inc. “The farmland along the Missouri
River through this area combined with
our local weather pattern is well suited
to soybean production.”
For nearly 50 years, the Weber family’s
diversified 10,000 acre farm has been
producing certified soybean seed along
with commercial corn and wheat.
“Sometime in the 1960’s our father
setup a Clipper fanning mill in the old
chicken house and began selling certified
public soybean and wheat seed,”
Weber recalls. “Since that time, our
seed business has continued to expand
with our own private brand and more
As the private brands began to erode
the market for public varieties in the
1980s, Weber Seed introduced its own
brand of soybean seed, Willcross. In
1991, Weber Seeds incorporated as the
company expanded its retail sales. The
advent of biotech soybean traits in 1996
further changed the soybean seed in-
Dan Weber, President
was completed in time to process
100,000 units of 2009-crop wheat seed.
Designing the new facility was a cooperative
effort, Weber says. After initial
discussions and consultations, Popp
Engineering presented a design proposal.
Weber and his staff worked with President
Jon Popp to arrive at a final plan.
“Every facility has its individual
needs, requirements and design challenges,”
says Popp. “The staff at Weber
had done their homework. They knew
what they wanted and we were able to
accommodate their ideas into the final
Oil Dust Suppression
One of the features of the new Weber Seeds
facility is the use of mineral oil for dust
suppression. As the seed is conveyed from
the Westrup airscreen, it receives a stream
of white mineral oil.
The oil mixes with the seed as it
moves through seed ladders on its way
to the gravity separators. Widely used
in the grain industry, oil dust suppression
is rare in the seed industry.
“The biggest challenge is to meter the
correct amount of oil onto the seed,”
says Popp. “Too much oil is worse than
none: the seeds stick together, get stuck
on elevator buckets and impairs seed|
|Popp Engineering, Inc., Ames, IA,|
|Automation/Controls ..... Otis & Associates|
|...................... Popp Engineering|
|Airscreen cleaner ................. Westrup A/S|
|Bag placer ....................... Chantland-MHS|
|Baggers, bulk bags ........... Chantland-MHS|
|Bagger, open mouth ......... Chantland-MHS|
|...... Universal Industries Inc.|
|Conveyers .................. Chantland-MHS|
|Dust collection .......... Donaldson Torit|
|Dust suppression .... Popp Engineering|
|Gravity separator ............. Oliver Mfg.|
|Heat sealer ........................ Fischbein|
|Inkjet bag lip printer ............... Marsh|
|Inline storage .. Popp Engineering Inc.|
|Letdown ladders ...... Northland Design|
|Level indicators ................. BinMaster|
|Robotic palletizer ..... Fanuc Robotics|
|Robotic programming .............. PASCO|
|Seed treater ............. Bayer/Gustafson|
|Valve gates ......Popp Engineering Inc.|
|Vibratory conveyor ..... Forsbergs Inc.|
|dustry and gave Webers reason to reevaluate
their position in the industry.
New Seed Facility
“Looking ahead, we realized that to
invest in a new facility would require
us to change our business model,”||
Weber says. “To support the kind of a forward-
looking, high-quality facility we
envisioned, we knew we would need to
expand our seed production.”
Working with Popp Engineering,
Ames, IA, plans for a new facility were
made. Construction began in 2008 and
(top) Westrup airscreen. The dust suppression oil tank is in lower-left corner.
gravity separators operating wihout dust hoods.
Plant Manager E.W. Browning at the Gustafson seed treater control panel.
|All the air through the dust collection
system is exhausted into the
building, not to the outside. During
the colder months of the year, the facility
essentially heats itself.
For Plant Manager E.W. Browning,
ease of operation is an important feature.
Most equipment is on ground
level or on a low-level mezzanine.
“You don’t spend a lot of time and
energy going up and down stairs to
monitor this operation. Everything is
easily accessible,” he says.
Flexibility is another feature of the
facility, Browning says. Popp’s design
allows seed to bypass any process that
is not needed.
Weber says that to date, a color sorter
has not been required by any of his
customers. In anticipation of future
needs, however, the facility is fully
piped and ready to have a color sorter
A Gustafson seed treater provides
capability to apply virtually any compatible
The majority of the seed conditioned
by Weber Seeds is packaged in
valve-top bulk bags. Seed can be packaged
by either weight or count. Single
unit bags are either heat sealed pinchto-
close or sewn bags.
“With the Fanuc robotic palletizer,
the heat sealed pinch-to-close bags
make a very sharp and clean pallet,”
says Browning. “After they are stretch
wrapped, those pallets are as solid as
Weber’s warehouse capacity was expanded
to over 100,000 sq. ft. with
the 2009 addition of a 85-ft. x 300-
ft. multipurpose storage building.
“With this new facility, we have
complete control of seed quality from
planting through harvest, conditioning,
treating, packaging, and storage,”
“Compared to the multinational
companies, we are a smaller company,
but small does not mean reduced quality,”
he says. “On the contrary, because
we are small, we personally
manage our seed throughout the entire
process. The quality of our product
is equal to or better than that of
any of our competitors.”
Joe Funk, editor
|treatments. With too little oil, the treatment
becomes ineffective. The secret is
to get the seed as clean as possible before
In addition to calibration, Popp Engineering
also devised a seed sensor to
coordinate oil application with the presence
or absence of seed on the conveyor.
The effectiveness of oil suppression||
is evidenced by the lack of hoods on
the Oliver gravity separators. Normally,
large hoods and high volumes of air are
required to contain the dust from these
Popp calculates that the elimination
of hoods over the gravity separators reduces
the size of the dust collection system
by 68 percent.
Filling spout-top bulk bag. Single-unit heat seal closer and bag stitcher in the background.