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

Wilbur-Ellis’ new fertilizer blending facility, located in Mott, ND, was designed by A.J. Sackett & Sons.
BlendersSackett-Waconia Restructures its Sales Force
June 12, 2017
Sackett-Waconia has added three new positions to their sales team: John Lamneck as Regional Account Manager – Eastern U.S.; Craig Read More
Yargus - Laycote Powder Handling System
BlendersList Of Demands On Fertilizer Blenders Grows
February 6, 2017
Many current customers have plans in place and projects in their queue — that’s the good news for many in Read More
The Sackett-Waconia Baltimore manufacturing facility in Baltimore, MD.
BlendersA.J. Sackett & Sons, Waconia Manufacturing Join Forces
January 4, 2017
Since 1995, A.J. Sackett & Sons and Waconia Manufacturing have been linked as partners and leaders in providing engineering and Read More
BlendersYargus Manufacturing To Sell To Ag Growth International
November 11, 2016
Yargus Manufacturing, Inc., a leading global manufacturer of Layco brand fertilizer and industrial material handling equipment located in Marshall, IL, Read More
Trending Articles
Stewardship‘Gonna Fly Now’ with Environmental Respect
July 20, 2017
One of the most memorable moments in movie history occurred in the Academy Award-winning 1976 film “Rocky.” Haven gotten his Read More
StewardshipEnvironmental Respect 2017 Kicks Off Enjoying an American Pastime
July 18, 2017
Following months of planning and scheduling, the 2017 Environmental Respect Awards (ERA) celebration kicked off in fine fashion as more Read More
Soybean Closeup
Crop InputsMissouri Lifts Dicamba Ban, Issues Stricter Application Parameters
July 14, 2017
The Missouri Department of Agriculture has lifted its barely week-old ban on new dicamba technologies, which have been at the Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto Responds to Arkansas, Missouri Dicamba Bans
July 10, 2017
Monsanto, provider of the dicamba-tolerant Roundup Ready Xtend crop system for soybeans and cotton, issued the following statement on Friday, Read More
Retail FacilitiesPCS-Hammond Meets Fertilizer Storage Needs with New Dome Facility
July 8, 2017
The new barrel dome facility at the PCS-Hammond Regional Distribution Center in Hammond, IN, can hold more than 100,000 tons Read More
PrecisionAg Vision Conference
Precision AgPrecisionAg® Vision Conference: Focused on the Future
June 13, 2017
PrecisionAg® is pleased to announce the return of its PrecisionAg Vision Conference, October 10-12, 2017. Based on overwhelmingly positive response Read More
Latest News
Stewardship‘Gonna Fly Now’ with Environmental Respect
July 20, 2017
One of the most memorable moments in movie history occurred in the Academy Award-winning 1976 film “Rocky.” Haven gotten his Read More
StewardshipEnvironmental Respect: Grand Grounds, Posters Parade
July 19, 2017
To celebrate their accomplishments in the area of environmental stewardship, award recipients at the 2017 Environmental Respect week spent much Read More
StewardshipHarden’s Message to ERA Winners: Do Tell Your Good Stor…
July 19, 2017
As the daughter of a peanut farmer, Krysta Harden, Chief Sustainability Officer for DuPont Crop Protection, understands the importance the Read More
StewardshipFarming Smarter Hinges on 4R Best Management Practices
July 18, 2017
Preserving water quality while feeding another 2 billion people by 2050 is the challenge facing North America’s farmers and its Read More
StewardshipEnvironmental Respect 2017 Kicks Off Enjoying an Americ…
July 18, 2017
Following months of planning and scheduling, the 2017 Environmental Respect Awards (ERA) celebration kicked off in fine fashion as more Read More
Soybean Field Sunset
OpinionPicking Partners in the Crop Protection Market
July 17, 2017
Agriculture is a market awash in highs, lows, and everything in between. This is certainly true in the world of Read More
TMX-2050-In-Cab-Display-Launch-Run-Screen
EquipmentGPS Auto Steer: Innovating in a Mature Market
July 17, 2017
In the world of Big IRON, GPS auto steer has closely mirrored the evolutionary path of consumer GPS Navigation systems Read More
MFA-Centralia-MO
Eric SfiligojThe Resilience of Ag Retailers
July 17, 2017
After covering the ag retail market for 17 years, I think one of the most impressive character traits I’ve seen Read More
SERA-meeting
Stewardship4R Event Explores How to Minimize Phosphorus Losses
July 17, 2017
This year the Southern Extension and Research Activity (SERA) – 17; will be meeting in Oregon, OH, from August 14-17. Read More
Students Soybean Field
StewardshipCCA 4R Study Guide Available
July 17, 2017
In June the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) released the Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) 4R Nutrient Management Specialist (4R NMS) Read More
Soil soybean closeup
FertilizerThe 4Rs and Potassium
July 17, 2017
Are we meeting crop K needs? Using the 4R nutrient stewardship approach of selecting the right source at the right Read More
Soil Young Corn
StewardshipTop 10 Themes from the 2017 4R Nutrient Stewardship Sum…
July 17, 2017
Preserving water quality while feeding another 2 billion people by 2050 is the challenge facing North America’s farmers and its Read More
Soybean Field Sunset
Crop InputsWhich is Better for Soybeans: Fall or Spring Applicatio…
July 17, 2017
There have been many questions about fall versus spring applications of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) to soybeans, writes Dr. T. Read More
corn-potassium-deficiency-University-of-Minnesota-Extension
Crop InputsRecognizing Potassium Deficiency Symptoms in Crops
July 17, 2017
Some crops exhibit characteristic deficiency symptoms when adequate amounts of K are not available for growth and development, according to Read More
ManagementComplexity in Agriculture: The Rise (and Fall?) of Mons…
July 17, 2017
Sometimes it seems as if the ag world is changing so fast that we can barely keep up with it Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto: Illegal, Improper Use at Root of Drift Proble…
July 14, 2017
Monsanto isn’t backing down from the position that its tool — the Roundup Ready Xtend dicamba-tolerant system for soybeans and Read More
Soybean Closeup
Crop InputsMissouri Lifts Dicamba Ban, Issues Stricter Application…
July 14, 2017
The Missouri Department of Agriculture has lifted its barely week-old ban on new dicamba technologies, which have been at the Read More
Crop InputsCreate a ‘No-Mite Zone’ Around Your Fields
July 13, 2017
Explosive. That’s one way to describe the speed at which mite infestations in crops can develop under the right conditions. Read More