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

CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More
EquipmentNew Holland Acquires Miller-St. Nazianz
September 3, 2014
The assets of Miller acquired as part of the transaction will become part of New Holland Agriculture, a CNH Industrial brand, building on a successful four-year partnership between the two companies. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires East Kansas Chemical
September 2, 2014
Ranked 82nd on the CropLife 100, East Kansas Chemical will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. 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
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

Latest News

CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires Kansas-Based Cedar Ridge Supply
September 16, 2014
Cedar Ridge Supply will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
StewardshipSecretary Vilsack Highlights Innovative Conservation Ef…
September 15, 2014
Nearly $16 million in Conservation Innovation Grants (CIGs) will be awarded to 47 organizations to help develop cutting-edge ideas to accelerate innovation in private lands conservation. Read More
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Responds To Cargill Lawsuit
September 15, 2014
Syngenta believes that the lawsuit is without merit and strongly upholds the right of growers to have access to approved new technologies. Read More
Equipment2014 Farm Science Review Launches Mobile App
September 15, 2014
Smartphone and tablet users planning on attending the 2014 Farm Science Review can now download this year’s customized mobile application. Read More
CropLife 100Southern States Coop Grower Sets Georgia Soybean Yield …
September 15, 2014
Georgia farmer Randy Dowdy's soybeans yielded an astonishing 110.66 bushels per acre, crushing the previous record of 82 bushels-per-acre. Read More
NIMITZ Treated vs Untreated pepper plant
InsecticidesNIMITZ Nematicide Approved By EPA
September 12, 2014
NIMITZ is a novel, non-fumigant nematicide with simplified application features, user safety and an active ingredient with a unique mode of action. Read More
InsecticidesMarrone Bio Innovations Receives Patent For Chromobacte…
September 11, 2014
The patent is the first step for MBI in developing a commercially viable product to inhibit infestations of corn rootworm larvae across America and other regions. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences: Keeping The Pipeline Stocked
September 11, 2014
Dow AgroSciences is embracing product diversity to drive the company’s future. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Is Official Partner Of New St. Paul Ballpark
September 10, 2014
The new ballpark in St. Paul, MN, officially became CHS Field with Twin Cities-based CHS Inc. revealed as the naming rights partner. Read More
EquipmentHagie Honors Farming Stewardship Leaders
September 10, 2014
The Iowa Farm Environmental Leader award recognizes Iowa farmers as environmental leaders that are committed to healthy soils and improved water quality. Read More
Precision AgPlantBeat: Your Plants’ Pulse In The Palm Of Your Han…
September 10, 2014
A new agronomic monitoring and recommendation service from Phytech could rewrite the book on real-time plant health status monitoring. Read More
StewardshipCCAs Making Headway With 4R Program In Lake Erie Wester…
September 9, 2014
Certified Crop Advisers are implementing the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification program in Lake Erie's Western Basin to improve water quality. Read More
MicronutrientsMicronutrients Going Macro
September 9, 2014
Between 2014’s fantastic growing conditions and a heightened awareness on plant nutrition, the major players in micronutrients are gearing up for another big year. Read More
Crop InputsFMC Announces Cheminova Takeover
September 8, 2014
FMC Corporation today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Cheminova, a wholly owned subsidiary of Auriga Industries. Read More
HerbicidesValent’s Fierce XLT Herbicide Receives EPA Approv…
September 8, 2014
Valent U.S.A. Corp. announced today that Fierce XLT Soybean Herbicide is now federally registered for preemergence weed control in soybeans Read More
Eric SfiligojIndustry Consolidation Set To Increase Going Forward
September 8, 2014
As the agricultural marketplace moves into fall, one observer predicts the pace of consolidation will grow at all levels. Read More
LegislationCropLife America Leaders Address Regulatory Landscape, …
September 8, 2014
As CropLife America enters its 81st year, the organization’s leaders have seen another period of rapid and visible policy and public issue activity. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More