Blenders: Custom Builds Get More Diverse

Adams Direct Drive Rotary Blender
Adams Direct Drive Rotary Blender

“It is incredible how different the needs of our customers are,” says Nate Wittmaack, sales representative with Ranco Fertiservice. Such is one of the biggest challenges facing today’s blender manufacturers as they try to make each unit just right for each buyer. For instance, some customers need a top-notch, elaborate system of liquid impregnation on their dry product, while others do not, Wittmaack notes. Some need 20 additive bins, others don’t require any.

Shawn Hudspeth, sales and marketing with Adams Fertilizer Equipment agrees: “In today’s blender market almost every blend system is customized to each dealer’s location.” And blender makers are promising to accommodate all customers’ wish lists and still achieve retailers’ production goals.

Another challenge has been “high demands” for better blending technology, says Charles Formisani, vice president of sales for The A.J. Sackett & Sons Co. But this call for better-engineered and higher quality equipment means fertilizer retailers need to plan farther ahead than before when upgrading or building new blending systems.

In fact, in general, manufacturers we spoke with are experiencing good to great volumes of orders — for some, the largest in their history — and ramping up production to meet the demand itself has been a difficulty. Hudspeth counsels retailers that early blender orders and planning ahead for the spring rush will pay heavy dividends in the fields.

He did find that the “fiscal cliff” problem — and the threat of a new recession — did delay several blender sales by two to four weeks. Blender sales had been good in early fall of 2012 but have been exceptionally strong since the first of the year.

Cranking Out Mixes

Customers are purchasing larger and faster equipment to cover more acres in a day, which means fertilizer dealers need to stay ahead of them, says Wittmaack. “One of our customers commented that with his new blend system, his company was able to keep six floaters and 14 tender trucks moving without any waiting. Another buyer said his staff was able to cover 6,500 acres per day because blender output was not an issue.”

Indeed, fertilizer demand has been high, says Jim Carlson sales and marketing specialist with Waconia Manufacturing, therefore the need to keep increasing throughput capacities at the retail level is at the forefront.

“Dealers are considering more overhead storage, bigger blenders, high capacity conveyers, etc.,” he reports. Waconia is, in fact, producing equipment with more overhead storage along with bigger and faster blending systems. Carlson says that while the window of opportunity in the spring and fall to get product to the ground varies every year, “but we all know the window is never big enough.”

Formisani believes growers expect the best inputs available and will pay for quality product. They’re demanding the newest and best technology they can get for themselves, and they expect retailers to do the same to deliver custom blends on time. He notes that the market can be especially brutal, in fact, with today’s shorter application windows and longer distances to fields: “Retailers need to get inputs to the field or their customers will get products elsewhere.”

Speaking of speed, Adams is introducing a new 8-, 10- and 13-ton direct drive rotary blender line designed to be fast. The 13-ton unit can completely empty in 3.5 minutes using its standard 36-inch conveyor. Hudspeth says that from the weigh hopper to the blender, it only takes 1.5 minutes to completely empty 26,000 pounds. “The 13-ton blender size works very well when trying to fill trailer tenders or hopper bottom trailers quickly, in just two mixes,” he explains.

Doyle Manufacturing also has a new 13-ton Direct Drive Rotary Blender — and it’s been moving well. The unit is designed “to stock some of the bigger tenders coming along,” says Rob Heiden, engineer.

More Than Fast

Formisani believes quality of blends is equally as important as speed. As agronomy develops to where growers are truly “spoon feeding” true prescription formulations to crops, retailers need to adjust — and blenders will make that possible. “The ability to mix a prescription blend with perfect accuracy and with speed is unbelievably important going forward,” he says. He notes that the Sackett H.I.M. mixer has the technology to accomplish this kind of mix complexity. Then too, he says, the company’s Loss-In-Weight blend system is designed for “extremely accurate results,” with load cells on the major and micro hoppers so users know exactly what is being dispensed.

Waconia Manufacturing continues to stress energy efficiency, safety, speed and reliability in all its designs, says Carlson. But he also emphasizes that automation is playing an ever-increasing role in all of the company’s systems. This technology provides customers with reduced labor costs, more accurate blends and a better accounting of every load coming in or going out.

Built-in automation software gives customers a fully integrated system on the Layco Declining Weight Blend System — all from one manufacturer, says Anne Sheehy, senior vice president, corporate sales and marketing at Yargus Manufacturing. No third party automation software is required. “New for 2013 is the wireless control function that uses an iPad to operate the complete blending system,” she says.

Yet another blender selling point is fertilizer additive abilities. Waconia is devoting a lot of resources to enhancers and maximizing nutrient utilization, says Carlson.

For Ranco, one of the company’s most recent innovations is a high output metering unit that has “an incredible amount of flexibility,” explains Bruce Hinkeldey, sales representative with Ranco.

Justin Goertz with R&R Manufac­turing says his company’s units’ ability to start and stop under load and mix partial batches accurately and efficiently are factors beyond speed that make them the choice for some market segments. Plus, the blenders have much lower horsepower requirements compared to other blenders.

Situation In Fields

Coming off drought conditions in many areas, fertilizer industry members weren’t sure how the fall application season would shape up. But manufacturers did not see the drastic reduction in fertilizer demand that some expected, says Wittmaack. Growers have maintained their programs more so than was expected. Continuing, unusually dry fall weather conditions in most areas allowed dealers to apply pre-plant fertilizer, Adams’ Hudspeth reports.

Projections heading into spring are uncertain, though. Subsoil moisture needs to be replenished on vast acreages. “If we experience another drier than average year in 2013, we would expect some significant changes in demand,” says Hinkeldey.

Simply put, “As long as commodity prices stay historically high, the demand will be there,” says Waconia’s Carlson. “The key factor in all of this is the weather.”

Leave a Reply

Blenders Stories

BlendersFertilizer Blenders Keep Up With Growers
February 3, 2014
Specialty fertilizer add-ons and ever more demanding growers pose real challenges for blending design and technology. Read More
BlendersNew St. Marys Fertilizer Building Is Built For Speed, Efficiency
October 1, 2013
With its precision blending facility, J.B. Pearl embraces the company’s past while setting the stage for its present and the future. Read More
Blenders10 Dry Fertilizer Blenders For 2013
November 16, 2012
Blender units are getting faster and more efficient than ever, plus some manufacturers are taking advantage of new technologies. Here Read More

Trending Articles

ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science Review
August 18, 2014
While cropland values in Ohio increased in the past two years, they have remained flat in 2014, declining in some cases, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economist. Read More
EquipmentAdvance Your Technology IQ At MAGIE
August 13, 2014
The Midwest AG Industries Exposition (August 20-21) is the place you need to be to see, study and evaluate how new advances in the equipment, operations, crop protection and fertility sectors can help your business prosper. Read More
HerbicidesScouting Key To Next Season’s Soybean Herbicide Program
August 12, 2014
When growing soybeans, growers need to think ahead to stay one step ahead of weeds. That means examining weed threats and evaluating which herbicides work best. Read More
StewardshipMichigan Agriculture Leaders On Toledo Water Ban: We Want To Be Part Of The Conversation
August 8, 2014
Leaders of Michigan agricultural organizations said Thursday that the government should not have a “knee-jerk reaction” based on last weekend’s water ban in Toledo due to fertilizer run-off in Lake Erie. Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Acquires Lemon Ag Services
August 4, 2014
The acquisition of Lemon Ag fits BRANDT’s aggressive corporate strategy of providing superior agronomic advice and services for customers in central Illinois. Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Resurgence Of Crop Protection
August 4, 2014
Plenty of new offerings over the next few years should see a rebirth for the crop protection products category in terms of market share. Read More

Latest News

Crop InputsBASF Is Betting On A Bright Agricultural Future
September 1, 2014
The crop protection products giant is gearing up for a busy time in agriculture by investing in both product production and development over the next couple of years. Read More
Eric SfiligojAn Erie Feeling For Ag
September 1, 2014
Plenty of water issues have been in the news lately, including the continuing drought in California. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires California-Based Retailer
August 29, 2014
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings will acquire Kerman Ag Resources, Inc., which will operate under Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
Allied Cooperative Grain Plant
ManagementArcadia Co-op To Merge With Allied Cooperative
August 28, 2014
Allied Cooperative has announced that members of Arcadia Co-op voted in favor of a merger with Allied Cooperative, paving the way for the consolidation which will be effective on December 1, 2014. Read More
InsecticidesBioinsecticide VENERATE Now Registered In California
August 27, 2014
Marrone Bio Innovations' VENERATE is a new tool to help California growers control crop-damaging insect pests, fight the development of insect resistance and reduce pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables. Read More
CropLife 100Two Iowa-Based Ag Co-ops To Merge
August 27, 2014
The Board of Directors and management of United Western Coop, Missouri Valley, IA has completed a merger with Heartland Co-op, West Des Moines, IA, effective September 1, 2014. Read More
FertilizerKoch Expands AGROTAIN Nitrogen Stabilizer Portfolio
August 26, 2014
Koch Agronomic Services, LLC has added two new innovative nitrogen stabilizers to the AGROTAIN product family – AGROTAIN ADVANCED and AGROTAIN DRI-­MAXX. Read More
Seed/BiotechDuPont To Build Two Seed Treatment Centers
August 26, 2014
DuPont has announced construction on two state-of-the-art centers dedicated to developing and testing seed treatment formulations, applications and seed handling techniques in an important step toward bringing new solutions to growers. Read More
Seed/BiotechLoveland Products Acquires A Controlling Interest In Ag…
August 26, 2014
Loveland Products, a subsidiary of Agrium , has announced the company has acquired a controlling interest in Agricen, a Dallas-area agricultural biotechnology company delivering biochemical-based products for efficient and sustainable plant nutrition. Read More
StewardshipUp Close Look At The 2014 Environmental Respect Award W…
August 25, 2014
The 2014 Environmental Respect Award winners were honored recently at the 24th annual event in Wilmington, DE. Read More
Eric SfiligojAg Science Rejection Carries Consequences
August 25, 2014
As innuendo and fear dog the regulatory process, agriculture can’t get the new tools it needs to combat world hunger. Read More
LegislationFarmers Dismayed As New Farm Bill Dumps Direct Payments
August 25, 2014
The threatened end of cash subsidies to the nation’s row crop farmers dates back through at least the last two iterations of national agriculture policy legislation. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK CEO To Retire
August 22, 2014
GROWMARK chief executive officer Jeff Solberg has announced his retirement effective September 15, 2014. Read More
InsecticidesDuPont’s Prevathon Approved For Dry Beans
August 22, 2014
DuPont Prevathon insect control powered by Rynaxypyr has received EPA registration for foliar use on dry bean crops, including dried shelled peas and beans. Read More
ManagementNCGA DuPont New Leaders Program Enters Sophmore Season
August 20, 2014
The National Corn Growers Association and DuPont are pleased to announce the second year of the NCGA DuPont New Leaders Program. Read More
FungicidesVerdesian Links Up With Mitsui, Hokusan
August 20, 2014
Mitsui Chemicals Agro, Inc., and Hokusan Co., announced the signing of an exclusive licensing agreement allowing Verdesian Life Sciences global access to its patented technology for suppressing mycotoxin contamination in wheat and barley. Read More
SprayersUniversity Of Illinois Introduces New Spray App
August 18, 2014
University of Illinois Extension has released a new smartphone app for making sprayer-related calculations. Pesticide Spray Calculator, or Spray Calc, Read More