ODEBOLT, Iowa – Cornboard Manufacturing Inc, plans to turn thousands of tons of corn stover, what’s left of the corn plant after harvest, into pallets in a facility they will build just outside Odebolt.
The facility will provide as many as 30 new jobs to Sac County as well as consistent income to the farmers selling what they had previously worked back into their soil. Cornboard CEO Lane Segerstrom grew up in the area and is glad to be able to help the economy there. He knows jobs are scarce and many people have to move to a bigger city to find work. “They have an opportunity to have a good career, job, right in their home town,” he said.
Segerstrom says he’s worked on the process of mixing stover with resin under pressure for about a decade. His Cornboard is used now in the Stalkit brand of snowboards, surf boards and skis. He says he can alter the process depending on the desired use of the product. So Cornboard for furniture is engineered differently than Cornboard for building material to be used in home construction.
Pallets are a very big market, with as many as 3 billion of them in the US now and another 500 million made every year. Segerstrom says as much as half of the hardwood harvested in the US, roughly a million acres, goes to make new pallets. Many of those pallets are used just once before winding up in a landfill. Using corn stover will reduce the number of trees harvested and save farmers a pass over their fields. “I don’t think farmers thought of their corn crop as a potential forest, but, in reality, it is.” Segerstrom added.
Segerstrom, pointing out that many things in 2020 have required patience, thinks the facility will be producing pallets in the fall of 2021.