$50M dairy farm underway in Wilkin

An aerial photo taken from a drone shows the Riverview, LLP Campbell dairy farm project going on now in southern Wilkin County. The 9,500-head dairy will be open and milking cows next summer.

Construction of Riverview, LLP’s latest project, the Campbell Dairy, is underway in southern Wilkin County, Minnesota.

Once an agricultural field, a quarter section in Campbell Township will be home to 9,500 dairy cows this time next year. The project is estimated to cost about $50 million and will be a boon for the county tax rolls.

The company

Riverview, LLP has not only dairy farms, but also a beef segment, agronomy division and its own construction arm. The company’s roots go all the way back to 1939 when it was first a family-owned crop and beef farm. In the mid-1970s, the family business was incorporated under the name Riverview. The diversified agribusiness today is predominately owned by Riverview employees.

They’ve been building their own dairies since 1995, as well as managing several other dairy construction projects between 1995 and 2007. In 2007, they started their own in-house concrete crew. Today, they manage large-scale ag projects and do most of the work themselves and contract with local companies as needed.

First phase

Workers are now busy moving 600,000 yards of dirt, taking out the rich, black dirt and moving it to the perimeter of the site.

Lyle Grimm, project manager with Riverview, LLP, said the crews got to work the day after the permit was approved – Thursday, Aug. 10.

“Riley Bros. is the dirt contractor. They’re doing all the heavy dirt work,” he said.

Once the black dirt has been removed, the clay is then worked to get it to the elevation levels and grades it’s been engineered to, he said.

“All the equipment out there is GPS controlled,” Grimm added.

Lagoons will be dug and pads will be mounded up for the milking parlor, holding pen and more than 20-acre free-stall barn.

There are some water wells on site and others identified less than five miles away that will be piped in. The dairy expects to use about 100 million gallons of water each year, which equates to a couple hundred gallons per minute, Grimm said.

There will also be a manure processing building.

“All the manure gets sucked up every day with a big manure vacuum truck and then dumped into a pit and the manure is processed. It takes all the fiber out of the manure, which is used for the animals’ bedding and what’s left is liquid and that goes into the lagoons,” Grimm said. The dairy expects to produce abut 100 million gallons of liquid fertilizer annually that will be applied to surrounding agriculture fields.

To mitigate any odor, all the lagoons will be covered, which practically eliminates the smell, he said.

Once the dirt is set to the levels it needs to be, an 18-inch layer of gravel will be spread to create a base for either concrete or asphalt.

“The goal is to get all the dirt moved and the gravel down this fall,” he said.

Although it’s early in the project, Grimm said everything is going as planned.

“The dirt work on this project is going probably the best we’ve ever had a project go. It’s really good clay soil, not too wet, not too dry. That’s one of the things with dirt work – if your dirt’s too wet, which a lot of times it is, then you have to spend a lot of time discing it and drying it before you can move it and final compact it. This dirt’s about perfect with moisture, and everything, it’s going really well,” he said.

Once the pads are ready, construction of the buildings can start.

“The first concrete crew started out there already. There’s a plumbing crew that’s putting in underground plumbing. Some carpenters will start working up there in a couple weeks to start building the shop,” he said. “There will be about 80-100 people working there by Oct. 1. Right now there’s probably 30.”

Grimm said the crews will push hard until freeze-up, which is typically mid-November to mid-December.

“We’ll stop pouring concrete then and slow down and maybe work in the winter with 20-30 people out there. Once spring comes around and it starts warming up, in April-May, we’ll have about 200 people finishing up the project,” he said.

The company expects to begin milking cows by the end of June 2018.

The milk will be sent to Bongards Creameries in Perham, Minnesota, to be made into cheese products, primarily.

Education and employment

The dairy farm will have an education center on site, which will feature offices and a large meeting room.

“This farm will be specifically set up for tours. A lot of tours will be given at this farm. Even if we have other farms in the area, almost all the tours will be given at this farm,” Grimm said. “We’re spending extra money on hallways and things that are adjacent to where the people are working, so you can tour and look through windows and you don’t disrupt the process of everything happening on the farm.”

The dairy intends to employ 50 full-time workers and is building on-site apartments for those who choose to live there. They are also building a couple homes in Campbell for some of the managers who will have an option to live in them, he said.

Working with the community

Positively integrating itself into the community is part of the company’s philosophy. The company’s website states, “At Riverview, we recognize we wouldn’t have success without our rural communities and neighbors.”

In addition to using the services of local companies, working with local farmers and hosting on-farm tours, the company awards scholarships to local graduates, donates dairy products for charity and school events and its employees volunteer in the communities in which they’re located.

“We’re excited to build relationships with people and neighbors in the community and vendors and contractors as this project continues,” Grimm said. “We’re using a lot of local people for stuff, so we’re starting a lot of relationships and looking forward to building those and working together with people. It seems like a lot of good nice people in the area. With Wahpeton-Breckenridge, it’s a nice-sized town that has quite a few contractors, so it’s been good to reach out to those guys.”

People and groups interested in touring one of the company’s dairies can call the company at 320-392-5609 or fill out the form online at http://www.riverviewllp.com/contact.html/.

To view a video of the construction of the company’s Dollymount Dairy, which opened this summer near Wheaton, Minnesota, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqcaHVOx2R8.


Recommended for you

Load comments