Controlled-release fertilizer plant coming to St. Thomas

Controlled-release fertilizer plant coming to St. Thomas

A joint venture between Sollio Agriculture, partners from its retail networks and U.S.-based coating technology company Pursell will build and operate a fertilizer coating plant in St. Thomas, Ont. The plant will be dedicated to the production of advanced controlled-release fertilizers (CRFs). The project represents an investment over $20 million.

The new plant will break ground in the fall of 2021 and is expected to become operational in August of 2022. It will produce CRFs leveraging Pursell’s innovative coating materials and proprietary processing techniques, as well its patented technology that enables the addition of micronutrients and temperature-sensitive additives, such as biologicals, growth enhancers and soil health promoters. The company said in a release that these controlled-release coatings improve the uptake of nutrients by plants, with the potential to significantly improve yield and quality while lowering greenhouse gas emissions from volatilization and reducing the risk of nutrient leaching and runoff.

Pursell, which opened its flagship fertilizer coating plant in Sylacauga, Alabama in early 2018 has also initiated plans to open an additional plant in Savannah, Ga. Pursell CEO Nick Adamchak said in a release that the venture is the first license of the Pursell technology outside of the U.S. and it will enable the company to move forward in further international licensing opportunities.

Historically, CRF products have been difficult to access for commodity agricultural crops such as corn, wheat, canola, or potatoes, and have been used primarily in turf and ornamental and specialty agriculture in the region. Pursell’s coating innovation and technology, coupled with local manufacturing of products, make widespread adoption of CRF into the commodity agriculture market economically and environmentally feasible. “The establishment of our St. Thomas plant gives growers in eastern Canada and the northeastern U.S. access to controlled-release nitrogen, phosphate and potash fertilizers, as well as customized plant nutrition options,” said Adamchak.

“This partnership was made possible by the participation of many member cooperatives and retail joint ventures from our distribution networks across Eastern Canada. This collaborative effort with our retailers makes this innovative technology that has great potential for the farmers we serve widely available,” Sollio Cooperative Group’s President Ghislain Gervais said in the release.

The St. Thomas plant will produce upwards of 100,000 tonnes once full capacity has been reached. According to the International Fertilizer Association (IFA), the use of CRFs could reduce by 20 to 30 per cent the recommended rate of a conventional fertilizer while achieving the same yield. CRFs provide a more predictable, precise release curve, so growers can time when plants receive nutrients. Growers using CRFs can also enjoy cost savings from being able to reduce fertilizer applications, add more micronutrients and improve overall plant and soil health.

“We have tested CRFs at our crop production research farm over four years and found that a pre-plant application of urea coated with Pursell’s new technology significantly increased corn yield and profitability,” said Sollio Agriculture Crop Management Researcher Lucie Kablan, Ph.D., agr. “We are also conducting promising trials on coated phosphorus and muriate of potash and have partnered with McGill University to evaluate the environmental benefits of CRFs in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. This will provide useful data to make recommendations to Canadian farmers,” she added.

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