Blenders Stand Up To Pressure

Waconia Vertical Blenders

As the grower equipment grows, so does the dealer, says Mark Anderson, vice-president of domestic sales and marketing with Yargus Manufacturing. With growers planting more acres than ever to capture profits from high crop prices, they need bigger units to get fields fertilized and volumes of product rushed out. “Many times retailers are expressing how they cannot keep up with growers during fertilizer season,” he says.

Over the past few years the sheer volume of blended product coming out of the large hub plants has increased dramatically, agrees Jim Carlson, sales representative with Waconia Manufacturing. “Facilities that were built primarily for wholesale distribution of bulk material are now primarily involved with distributing and retailing blended product.”

The 2012 season promises its own unique challenges, believes Bruce Hinkeldey with Ranco Fertiservices. In many regions he’s seen good weather during fall application as well as an open winter — both of which allowed retailers the opportunity to apply a large portion of preplant materials. But it also appears the fertilizing season will arrive sooner than normal, he says, “which puts pressure on everyone to get equipment service, buildings filled, and new equipment installed.”

Features Rise To Occasion

Blender companies continue to design features to get this daunting job done, in particular incorporating speed, accuracy, and durability in ever larger units.

Waconia just introduced a new line of blend and wholesale towers with overhead storage for up to 250, 275 or 300 tons. Prior to this new line, the largest capacity in the industry was 200 tons, says Carlson. “Along with the larger holding capacity, we can provide up to 18-ton blenders in the larger towers,” he says.

New last season was Adams Fertilizer Equipment’s 16-ton Vertical Fertilizer Blender, the company’s largest vertical so far. And there’s a new rotary unit on the way in two or three months, says Michael Tibbett, sales manager.

Doyle Manufacturing’s latest unit, the 13-ton Direct Drive Rotary Blender, has been moving well. It is geared “to stock some of the bigger tenders coming along,” says Rob Heiden, engineer. Pledging industry-leading speeds, it uses fewer parts than traditional chain drive blenders, and the direct drive system has a heavy duty planetary gearbox, coupled to a TEFC motor.

Doyle is facing extremely high demand — all the while working to complete a relocation to Missouri. The new headquarters building will have considerably higher square footage, all needed to meet the high volume of orders the company is experiencing.

Anderson says Yargus’ Declining Weigh Blend System is becoming one of its most sought-after blenders with higher tonnage retailers. The unit offers throughput speeds of three, four, five and six tons per minute or faster. “We like to say ‘speed makes profits,’ and the faster we can move trucks through, the more time the spreaders’ wheels are rolling,” he comments. And with retailers investing in larger tendering equipment, the Declining Weigh Blend System can blend and fill a 24-ton tender in six to eight minutes.

Manufacturers we talked with were quick to boast about the durability of their units as well as speed. For instance, Waconia’s Carlson says the company has always prided itself in engineering and manufacturing equipment “that won’t break down in the heat of battle. Everything we build is for the heavy seasonal demand of the fertilizer industry. With the short spring season, keeping up with the grower will determine where he will buy his product and services.”

Anderson encourages retailers to always invest in quality. “The more stainless steel you can buy, the better off you are,” he says. “Stainless construction is like having a built-in performance bond that protects a system for years to come.”

More Complex Mixes

Growers want fertilizer blends — delivered fast — to do more. They’re continually asking how they can maximize nutrient utilization, says Carlson. One answer has been enhancers, so blender makers needed to consider how to work with these products. Carlson says Waconia is spending considerable time researching and implementing efficient ways to apply these enhancers into the blend cycle. In some cases, this is even being done in receiving, before the product is conveyed into the building.

Sackett has geared up to manage complex mixes as well. “Our chemical engineers are continuously working to test new coatings and additives in the lab HIM mixer to ensure the R&D is being done in our lab and not at the blend plant,” says Charles Formisani, mechanical engineer and manger of sales and engineering.

In general, Hinkeldey notes that each year the industry is seeing new product formulations that retailers need to incorporate into blends. Generally they’re common fertilizers with coatings and stabilizers applied, but dealers don’t have the luxury of extra storage bins to handle these pretreated products so they need to impregnate on demand. In addition, he says, lower use rates of the liquids require accurate output and thorough mixing.

Ranco offers a variety of pump sizes that accurately impregnate the liquids onto the dry fertilizer during the continuous flow blend process. The liquid system can also be set up to disperse produced in declining weigh mode for incredible accuracy, says Hinkeldey. “And powdered products can be accurately incorporated into the blending using Ranco’s powder feeders, which continuously agitate the material so consistency of the product dispensed remains constant.”

A number of new products, such as Mosaic’s MicroEssentials SZ phosphate, require a separate compartment in a tower, points out Waconia’s Carlson. “Our blend towers are positioned well to handle multiple products,” he says. “We manufacture towers with up to 14 bins for maxiumum flexibility.”

Multi-faceted mixing needs to be achieved without slowing down the loadout process. Hinkeldey says users like Ranco’s Declining Weigh System’s ability to quickly change products without sacrificing accuracy, the desired target weight, or blend quality.

Tweaking along the way can be vital. The Yargus Declining Weigh Blend System uses the time delay start/stop and layering effect to make a quality blend regardless of ratios or amounts. Anderson says by using load cells on each bin, the unit is constantly monitoring output of product and making corrections.

The technology to incorporate micronutrients and apply fertilizer coatings is one of A.J. Sackett & Son’s main focuses these days, says Formisani. The company’s LIW (Loss In Weight) blending system has a proprietary continuous mixer to ensure accurate blending. Other features include load cell sampling at 200 times per second, a “one size fits all” feeder design for maximum flexibility, fully PLC-based, an option for in-line coating and “an extremely robust design that you would expect from Sackett,” says Formisani.

He adds that the company has formed a partnership with Kahler Automation — another name he says dealers can trust — to supply the automation for the LIW Blending System.

Formisani believes blend quality and the ability to precisely impregnate, encapsulate, and disperse add-on materials have to be the main drivers in a blender decision, rather than overhead storage capacity or even speed. In fact, Sackett feels so strongly about the importance of prescription blending that the company is only offering blend towers with its HIM mixer, which is designed specifically for new mixing challenges.

HIM mixer technology is based on small, fast batches, explains Formi­sani. A Sackett tower using one 3-ton mixer can output prescription blends at speeds close to 200 tons per hour. “This is not only substantially faster the typical towers but much more precise as well,” he adds.

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
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100BRANDT Commemorates National Ag Day
March 20, 2015
The Illinois agriculture community gathered at BRANDT global headquarters on March 18 to celebrate National Ag Day behind this year's theme Sustaining Future Generations. Read More
Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
CropLife 100Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
March 3, 2015
Two CropLife 100 retailers — South Dakota Wheat Growers (ranked No. 11) and North Central Farmers Elevator (No. 19) — have entered into a Letter of Intent to unify the two companies into a newly named cooperative. Read More
Growmark Group
CropLife 100GROWMARK In 2015: Back, To The Future
March 2, 2015
The nation’s third largest ag retail organization is simultaneously moving forward while remembering its past. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Expands Sanders Brand In The South
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle has acquired Hopkins Seed and Chemical in Qulin, MO, which expands the company's Sanders brand to nine Southern states. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches New Providence Agriculture Location In Indiana
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings — ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100 — has established a new retail location in New Castle, IN, which will operate as part of Pinnacle's Providence Agriculture brand. Read More
Carl Casale of CHS
CropLife 100Cooperative CHS Returns $518 Million To Owners
February 23, 2015
The 2015 cash return to owners is based on CHS net income of $1.1 billion, the company's second highest on record. Read More
Latest News
Industry NewsINCOTEC Board Member To Retire
March 31, 2015
JanWillem Breukink has decided to retire from his position on INCOTEC’s Board of Directors, effective April 1, 2015. This was Read More
MicronutrientsAgrium Deals Michigan Micronutrient Facility To Cameron…
March 31, 2015
Cameron Chemicals, Inc. has announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Agrium Inc. to purchase the Read More
Industry NewsH.J. Baker Creates, Fills New Pacific Northwest Sales P…
March 30, 2015
H.J. Baker announced today that Gary Bingham has joined the company’s Crop Performance Division to further deepen its sales portfolio Read More
Algal blooms
StewardshipStudy: Algae From Clogged Waterways Could Be Used As Bi…
March 30, 2015
Water-borne algal blooms from farm fertilizer runoff can destroy aquatic life and clog rivers and lakes, but scientists are reporting Read More
Young corn plants
Stewardship4R Nutrient Stewardship Summit Coming To DC
March 30, 2015
The annual 4R Nutrient Stewardship Summit will be held on May 12 in Washington DC. The summit will include a full Read More
FungicidesSyngenta Suing Willowood Over Azoxystrobin Fungicide
March 27, 2015
Syngenta announced today that it has sued agrochemical maker Willowood, LLC., for patent and copyright infringement, as well as unfair Read More
ManagementRetail Week: The Future Of Mycogen Seeds; The 4Rs At Na…
March 27, 2015
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Matt Hopkins discuss recent trips, including a look at the future of Mycogen Seeds at Dow Read More
Eric SfiligojMonsanto Hears The WHO
March 27, 2015
Another challenge to the safety of glyphosate, and the responses from supporters and opponents, calls to mind a classic Dr. Seuss story. Read More
Industry NewsMonty’s Plant Food Expands Sales Team
March 27, 2015
Monty’s Plant Food Company, a leader in natural soil enhancement and  plant fertility products, has hired Andrew Bullock as a Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Louisiana Plant Poised For 2015 Production
March 26, 2015
As the 2015 planting season gets underway, growers across the country will need crop protection products to combat pests and Read More
Lake Erie Nutrient Stewardship
LegislationOhio Lawmakers Finalize Phosphorus Restrictions
March 25, 2015
State lawmakers on Wednesday finalized new rules designed to curb toxic algal blooms on Lake Erie, calling the regulations a major step forward in addressing the problem. Read More
Spreaders17 Fertilizer Spreaders For 2015
March 25, 2015
Manufacturers shoot for versatility and accuracy in this year's crop of fertilizer spreaders. Read More
Industry NewsMonty’s Hires Mid-South Product Consultant
March 25, 2015
Monty's Plant Food Co. has hired Matt Woodring as a Product Consultant for portions of Central Kentucky and Tennessee.    Read More
StewardshipMapShots Integrates With DriftWatch
March 23, 2015
Growers and agricultural providers using AgStudio FARM and AgStudio PRO can now view vital information about specialty crops and apiaries through a recent integration with the DriftWatch Specialty Crop Site Registry from FieldWatch, Inc. Read More
Crop InputsWorld Health Organization Report Contradicts Scientific…
March 23, 2015
A new report from the World Health Organization has classified glyphosate with a “2A” rating as a probable carcinogen, a Read More
Eric SfiligojSeed Treatment Stays Necessary
March 20, 2015
Grower-customers looking to scale back spending in 2015 won’t consider seed treatment, say experts. Read More
HerbicidesMARCH MADNESS: Industry Rallies Around Glyphosate Safet…
March 20, 2015
A newly published report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies the herbicide glyphosate as a "2A-rated possible carcinogen" and the ag industry responds by circling the wagons. Read More
ManagementRetail Week: Precision survey, a technology acquisition…
March 20, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sflilgoj discuss recent travel, the upcoming precision adoption survey, and an unusual sighting at a Read More