Storage Comes To The Force
The ethanol explosion bodes well for manufacturers as retailers ramp up facilities to meet grower needs.
September 12, 2008
Corn certainly has emerged as the leader of the pack this season, and as a member of the golden grain's inner circle, nitrogen brings its own reauirements — storage and containment — to the reailer's table.
"Any increase in corn acres will have a corresponding increase in the need for nitrogen fertilizer," says Ron Lager, sales manager for Precision Tank & Equipment Co. (PT&E). To meet that need, he adds, many retailers will buy their supplies early, taking advantage of lower costs before demand pushes up prices.
The quest for lower fertilizer prices isn't just limited to liquid nitrogen operations. "Many cooperatives have been ramping up operations, utilizing large-scale dry fertilizer warehouses with capacities ranging from 10,000 to 40,000 tons of storage, allowing them to purchase product at a reduced rate," according to Meridian Manufacturing Group, Inc. The company attributes some of the increased dry fertilizer demand to changing anhydrous ammonia regulations.
Meridian Mfg.'s cone bottom tanks give mega plants the ability to provide on-demand straight or blended product to grower-customers and satellite locations. The company's smooth wall cone bottom bins can act as temporary storage when outdated satellite locations are being eliminated or in areas where additional grain storage is needed.
The surge in storage bins isn't limited to dealerships. Meridian Mfg. expects on-farm fertilizer storage to gain a greater foothold in others, especially where growers have switched to corn and are not equipped to store the grain.
To protect a dealership's investment in storage tanks, PT&E coats its mild steel tanks
Containment Sales Spilling Over
Additional storage requires expanded containment, whether at the dealership or on the farm. Hunter Agri-Sales' Plia-Dike has been "pretty good," says Ken Hunter, company president.
"The Plia-Dike system is an easy system to expand because there's no basic concrete wall," says Hunter. "Instead, we're using the polypropylene wire which we can seam onto the field very easily and then extend the wall panels out 30 or 40 feet or whatever is needed to not only add more storage, but also comply with the state containment rules and regulations."
Plia-Dike sales have been brisk, including to growers finding themselves no longer exempt from fertilizer containment rules on their farms.
Hunter's Plia-Tank Pads also are selling well. "Most of the state regulatory people don't like to see gravel in a containment area anymore, mainly because if there is a spill, it's very difficult to wash the gravel to remove the fertilizer so the dealership can continue to pump the water to its drainage system."