Last Friday, Midwestern BioAg was joined by over 80 local farmers, media and staff to celebrate the grand opening of its new TerraNu fertilizer manufacturing plant. The event, hosted at Fair Oaks Farms in Fair Oaks, IN, featured remarks from Midwestern BioAg leadership and Mike McCloskey, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board at Fair Oaks Farms.
Guests received an exclusive look at the new 85,000-square-foot facility, a turnkey fertilizer manufacturing plant capable of producing 65,000 tons of fertilizer each year. The plant is located at Prairie’s Edge Dairy Farm, a founding member of Fair Oaks Farms. “We are proud to share our latest innovation with the local farming community,” said Midwestern BioAg Midwestern BioAg CEO Dr. Tony Michaels. “TerraNu fertilizers bring the benefits of manure and complete crop nutrition to growers everywhere, making it easy to supply organic matter, NPK, secondary nutrients and micronutrients in a single product. We’re excited about the value TerraNu brings to row-crop farmers, dairy producers and their communities.”
The new manufacturing facility uses TerraNu Nutrient Technology to transform manure into uniform, dry fertilizer granules that can be efficiently stored, transported and applied. The process builds on the environmental benefits of anaerobic digesters by eliminating the logistical challenges of manure application.
“Anaerobic digesters are an important tool in manure management, but digested manures remain heavy and difficult to transport,” said Dr. Michaels. “With specialization, crop farms benefiting most from livestock manures are often located miles from manure sources. This process bridges the gap, bringing the benefits of manure to farms that need them the most.”
TerraNu fertilizers deliver NPK, secondary nutrients and micronutrients in a granulated fertilizer, supplying many of the benefits of manure without the application challenges. Referred to as the “manure matrix,” the base material is made primarily of decomposed microbes from the digested manure. TerraNu products made through this process offer precision application: Each granule has the same guaranteed analysis, allowing for even in-field distribution.
“TerraNu fertilizers link nutrients to organic matter to enhance nutrient efficiency and crop uptake,” said Midwestern BioAg Vice President of Sales Jim Krebsbach. “The manure matrix is food for living soil microbes. It draws nutrients into the soil life food chain, helping make them more plant available.
Q&A with Vice President of Sales Jim Krebsbach (former executive with Marion, OH-based Nachurs):
CropLife Magazine (CL): “So what’s the key takeaway for ag retailers from this new plant opening?”
Jim Krebsbach (JK): “I think the key takeaway for TerraNu to the ag retailer is, now their growers can have access to manure even as a non-livestock farmer, because we have a granulated product that consists of roughly up to 40% manure from dairy animals, and now we can put that on a truck or rail car and ship it many miles away, and then the retailer can run it into their facility and blend it with whatever products they may have on-hand and come up with a nice blend for their growers.”
CL: “Anytime we talk about moving manure around in the Midwest, people get a bit nervous about transferring weed seed and other pathogens to different geographical regions. Any comment?”
JK: “Through the whole manufacturing process there is a whole lot of heat and time involved, and we’ve taken samples of the product and sent it to several different independent labs, along with our own in-house lab, and we’ve not been able to find any viable weed seeds. So it’s weed-free but it still has all of the NPK, the minerals that we’re mixing in, and then the value of that carbon source – meaning that manure base, if you will – I mean, that is just so key.”
CL: “Retailers today are more focused then ever on sustainability initiatives and proving to consumers that they are serious about sustainability. How can this product help ag retailers demonstrate that commitment to the environment?”
JK: “They (retailers) really need to get ahold of us so we can have the opportunity to sit down with them across the table and explain the whole process of TerraNu. It’s an extremely efficient and sustainable process, because everything that goes into this product, there’s no waste. Even from the livestock feed, to the manure source, to even the water that’s in the manure, it all goes back to the farm through irrigation. The sand and straw that we pull out of the manure goes back for cattle bedding, and then the nutrients that are left behind go into the TerraNu products that the retailer can have in their plant today. So, we’re doing a good thing there, we’re taking manure and we’re moving it across more acres, and then you think about the biology of the TerraNu itself. Having that carbon base with the nutrients that we blend in helps sustain soil health and good biology within the soil, and really it makes the other fertilizers that the retailer sells that much more effective.”
CL: “I understand there are no pre-harvest intervals on this product, so it can be applied late in the season when many other fertilizers are not a viable option?”
JK: “That’s correct. We can take this product now and get it on — whether it’s a fruit or vegetable crop for human consumption — and there’s no pre-harvest interval. With conventional manure I believe there is a period of time that they have to wait just to make sure no pathogens that can transfer into the food system. This product because it goes through anaerobic digestion, we heat it up pretty hot when it gets granulated, then we have to dry it. All of those pathogens are destroyed and we’re left with a really clean and safe product for growers to use across many different crops.”
CL: “Any other thoughts for our retail audience today?”
JK: “If they are looking to differentiate themselves in the market from their competitors, then this is an excellent product and we’ll support whoever comes to the table first, and we’ve already got quite a few at the table. We want to make sure that we have access to as many growers that want manure as possible, so if there’s a retailer out there that has a customer base that’s not in a livestock area, we can be that manure source for them.”