Faster service = farm profits
By LARRY KERSHNER
FARNHAMVILLE – An estimated 200 people toured the new fertilizer plant at FC?Cooperative in Farnhamville Thursday, wandering into cavernous storage bins and under a dizzying array of augers, ladders and catwalks.
FC was holding an open house to show off its newest addition to storing, mixing and delivering fertilizer products to its customer-owners.
According to Tyler Farnham, the Farnhamville location’s manager, the facility gives the cooperative the ability to receive fertilizer products by rail and truck.
It features bins for storing the usual mixes of nitrogen, potassium and phosphate, as well as potash, monoammonium phosphate and micronutrients.
Farnham said the new facility, which started construction in November 2012, quadruples the operation’s former fertilizer storage and is 10 times faster for processing.
He said the plant will be able to haul fertilizer to clients in the field in a 60-mile radius.
Devin Mogler, vice president of agronomy operations, working out of the Ames office, said the size of the plant and its storage capacity was not the focus of the expansion.
“It’s all about the end result for our farmers,” Mogler said. “The co-op is owned by farmers and our job to make them profitable.”
He said the capability of bringing in 60- to 85-car shuttle trains will allow the cooperative to find better prices and to better avoid the supply line backlogs that occur during busy months.
“With this much space,”?Mogler said, “we can hold a whole season’s worth of product.
“But when this is all full, we’ll go through it in a single fall application period.”
He said the facility is capable of loading a semitrailer in less than five minutes and within a half-hour can deliver his load 20 to 25 miles away, keeping farmers running the field.
Although Farnhamville’s is not the biggest fertilizer storage plant that FC has, “it’s the newest and is on par in terms of speed,”?Mogler said.
Bob and Frances Johnson were two Farnhamville residents touring the new plant.
“They left us behind a long time ago,”?Frances Johnson said concerning the technology changes in agriculture.
Bob Johnson said he was a 17-year member of the cooperative’s board, helping guide the operations through a series of mergers during his tenure.
“I never imagined a facility like this,”?Johnson said. “But I’m very proud of it.
“We worked a long time to get (the overall cooperative’s organization) right. The expansions seemed to have worked out.”
Mogler explained that the biggest storage bin, rated at holding 6,500 tons, or 260 truck loads, will consist primarily of an encapsulated product called MicroEssentials SZ.
Each tiny capsule contains nitrogen, phosphorus, zinc and sulphur.
He said through encapsulation, the mixture is guaranteed to be spread evenly across the field, rather than run the risk of some areas receiving more or less of a certain product.
To this basic mix, other essentials – potash, monoammonium phosphate and other micronutients including Boron, magnesium, or molybdenum – can be added as a field needs.