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 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manufacturer Kay-Flo
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
CropLife 100North Central Farmers Elevator, Wheat Growers Unification Approved By Board, Still Awaits Member Approval
May 13, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have voted to approve the Unification Read More
CropLife 100AgGateway’s Barcoding Initiative Progressing Nicely
May 8, 2015
According to legend (or Wikipedia), the first step towards modern bar codes came back in 1948, when Bernard Silver, a Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Acquires Missouri Refined Fuels Terminal
April 2, 2015
Bloomington, IL-based GROWMARK and Magellan Pipeline Co. have entered into an agreement in which GROWMARK will acquire the refined fuels Read More
Latest News
Bayer CropScience, ILeVO
Crop InputsISU: ‘Halo Effect’ From ILeVO Soybean Seed …
May 28, 2015
Farmers who were lucky enough to plant soybeans and spray pre-emergence herbicides in between rain events may now be seeing Read More
ManagementCorn Planting/Monsanto-Syngenta Update; New PrecisionAg…
May 28, 2015
Eric Sfiligoj and Paul Schrimpf give updates on corn planting progress, the latest on Monsanto-Syngenta rumors and preview a brand Read More
Waterhemp in soybean stubble
HerbicidesEPA Signs Off On Monsanto’s Warrant Ultra Premix
May 27, 2015
Soybean and cotton growers looking for new tools to manage weeds will have a new, first-of-its-kind option in 2016 with Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
HerbicidesSTUDY: Weed Diversity Primarily Influenced By Geography
May 27, 2015
The potential long-term impacts of glyphosate-resistant crops on biodiversity of the agricultural landscape have been the subject of controversy. A Read More
Seed/BiotechAgrilead Forms Distribution Alliance With Kansas-Based …
May 27, 2015
Agrilead, Inc. announces the formation of a strategic alliance with KALO, Inc. of Overland Park, KS. Through the alliance, KALO Read More
EquipmentPrecision Tank Announces A&B Welding Acquisition
May 27, 2015
Precision Tank, a specialized tank and equipment manufacturer, announced today the acquisition of A&B Welding of Thompson, IA, a manufacturer Read More
Allied Cooperative Grain Plant
ManagementTraining Program Gives First Responders Skills For Grai…
May 27, 2015
When stored grain forms hard bridges, columns and other irregularities, those working to correct it find themselves at risk of Read More
Industry NewsBASF Sponsors Space Farming Research Project
May 26, 2015
Is it possible to produce large quantities of high quality vegetables on a space station, about 320 kilometers away from Read More
FertilizerTexas Ammonium Nitrate Bill Passes Senate, Heads To Gov…
May 26, 2015
The Texas State Senate gave final approval last Thursday to new regulations for ammonium nitrate, reports The Dallas Morning News Read More
Young corn plants
Industry NewsArysta Europe Details New Organizational Structure
May 26, 2015
Arysta LifeScience Europe recently announced a new organizational structure to leverage its scale and accelerate the company’s growth in this Read More
Syngenta Sign
Eric SfiligojMonsanto-Syngenta Could Hinge On A Judgment Of Solomon …
May 26, 2015
In the bible, the reputation of King Solomon’s wisdom in matters of despite comes from a tale of one child Read More
ManagementA New Sprayer Company & UAV Research In The Spotlig…
May 21, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about a Dutch sprayer manufacturer entering the U.S. with a super-sized entry and Read More
HerbicidesFirst U.S. Sale Of Enlist Duo Herbicide Made By Dow Agr…
May 21, 2015
Dow AgroSciences has recorded the first U.S. sale of Enlist Duo herbicide with Colex-D Technology. This marks the first commercial Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manu…
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
EquipmentNORAC Options Coming To TerraGator
May 19, 2015
Utilizing NORAC’s Standard Control technology, boom height control is now available for TerraGators with Airmax Precision 2 and Benson Booms. This Read More
Crop InputsHelena Introduces New Soil Health Product
May 19, 2015
Helena Chemical Co. is helping agricultural producers maximize yields and efficiency with the introduction of Liquid Chisel, a new product Read More
Stewardship4R Nutrient Management Planning Certification Now Avail…
May 19, 2015
The American Society of Agronomy (ASA) and the International Certified Crop Adviser (ICCA) program announce a new specialty certification in Read More
Environmental Defense Fund logo
Paul SchrimpfEnvironmental Defense Fund: Appreciating Partners
May 19, 2015
I WAS deep in the throes of preparation for the Commodity Classic meeting that took place this past February, trying Read More