Two new agricultural co-op facilities have begun operations in Minnesota, featuring high-capacity dry fertilizer systems with greater speed and efficiency in serving their farmer members.
The new Farmer’s Co-op Oil is located on a 17-acre tract in Clara City, replacing an older facility across from its present site. It provides agronomy as well as energy products, including propane, lube oil, and bulk tractor fuel.
Located about 60 miles away is a new Meadowland Farmers Coop operation in Russell, offering agronomy, feed and energy products for farmers in parts of southwest Minnesota and eastern South Dakota. It was built after Meadowland purchased the assets of Southwestern Minnesota Dairy in 2017.
Both facilities feature the latest dry fertilizer handling equipment from GSI InterSystems, a brand of AGCO. Included is an advanced blending tower that offers nearly double the speed of standard blending towers currently used in the industry.
The tower has stainless steel bins at the top that offer 250 tons of total capacity, holding multiple different products that can be customized to meet specific customer needs. Sensors ensure the bins are continuously fed to keep high-quality product moving continuously through the system all day, without delay.
Another important feature is that each tower has two weigh hoppers, each with 8 tons of capacity, compared to a single weigh hopper in standard fertilizer towers. Specific products are fed to each hopper at the same time, reducing weighing time and enabling the system to move faster. While one batch is weighing, another is mixing in the blender below.
“The tower can fill up to thirteen 24-ton trucks with custom fertilizer batches in one hour and sustain that rate for a full day, providing shorter wait times,” said Nate Reznechek, GSI’s crop nutrient equipment sales director. “Product flows from the top of the tower, gets blended and impregnated, and loaded into the truck in less than five minutes. In some cases, even faster.”
As a result, both new facilities have seen a marked improvement in efficiency. “We’re now able to load trucks in about half the time it took at our previous facility,” said Brad Hebrink, general manager at Farmer’s Co-op Oil. “The faster equipment and higher capacity provide much greater efficiency.”
Mark Dunn, location manager at Meadowland Farmers Coop, sees speed as well as cost savings as key benefits. “We like the efficiency of the high-speed blender to be able to get trucks in and out in a timely manner,” he said. “It also provides a cost savings since we can now operate with fewer trucks. With the high-intensity mixer, we can blend a batch in 45 seconds to a minute, compared to 2½ minutes which is standard in the industry.”
For both co-ops, higher holding capacity for incoming product also enables them to better serve their farmer members. Capacity at Farmer’s Co-op Oil is 13,000 tons, versus 5,000 tons at their previous location. Meadowland Farmers Coop increased its capacity from 1,200 to 14,000 tons.
“During planting season, the crop gets put in fast,” said Hebrink. “We couldn’t receive fertilizer fast enough and had to purchase 30% of our fertilizer in-season. Now it is received, mixed and out the door much faster.”