Tank and containment manufacturers are yet another sector of agriculture feeling the trickle-down benefits of good commodity prices. “Sales have been really good — almost too good,” says Gene Good, vice president of sales at Mid-State Tank. In fact, a number of companies are simply out of immediate stock.
Why so busy? Dealers and growers are filling up on liquid nutrients, trying to grab good prices and build inventory security. “Fertilizer suppliers are requiring that dealer-purchasers take delivery of a product or risk losing it to someone else — so many dealers are putting in extra storage capacity,” says Ron Lager, sales manager with Precision Tank & Equipment Co. He says the large steel fertilizer storage and chemical tanks in his company’s line have been its most popular products lately. Made of stainless or mild steel, sizes run from 6,000 gallons to 30,000 gallons.
Then too, more growers are buying their own fertilizer and doing their own application. “Up until probably two to three years ago most of our customers were dealers,” says Dennis Neal, president of Enviropac, Inc. Now a bigger part of the company’s business are growers who “tell us they want to protect cost and availability. They just feel that with the dynamics of the industry, they want to have more control themselves.”
In general, liquids seem to be on the rise, but they’re being used in a different nutrient management approach as well, says Neal. “Growers are putting on more foliar feed, lower rate products, so that they can almost spoon feed the corn with nitrogen at the right time,” he explains.
Neal says the bottom line is that customers are more concerned than ever about protecting their fertilizer investment. “A typical fertilizer tank we sell is 30,000 gallons, and several years ago, it probably cost $25,000 to fill with 28% UAN — now it’s probably up closer to $70,000.”
With increasing tank sales in both the dealer and grower sectors comes greater demand for containment, says Ken Hunter, president of Hunter Agri-Sales. “More farmers are getting bigger — little guys are going out — and they’re needing storage on the farm, so they’re building new containment.” In addition, regulations are now calling for growers as well as dealers to have containment structures for on-site bulk fertilizer storage.
Hunter’s Plia Dikes contain very little steel to corrode — “no steel in the bolts, and all the panels in the dike structure are polyethylene, with a liner of polypropylene,” he describes. And, with extra UV inhibitors, the goal is to make the dikes as maintenance-free as possible, he adds.