In business since 1989, Green Valley Agriculture serves growers of a diverse range of crops including vegetables, edible beans, tree fruits, forages, corn, soybeans, and wheat. The company was facing growth challenges. Customers could be in line for one to two hours to receive fertilizer, so it was time to expand.
Partners Mark Edema and John Christian decided to build a new facility in Wayland, MI, about 15 miles from company headquarters in Caledonia. The hired AJ Sackett to build a facility that would support the company today and in the future. Equipped for both rail and truck delivery, the new Wayland facility has:
- Storage for 18,000 tons of dry fertilizer and more than 2 million gallons of liquid fertilizer
- Precision Fertilizer Blend tower equipped with a High Intensity Mixer (HIM)
- Rail siding for 50+ rail cars
The Challenge: High Blending Demands
Besides needing to increase speed and efficiency, the other challenge to be addressed was how to handle the wide variety of materials and batch sizes associated with the diversity of growers that made up Green Valley’s customers. Batch sizes range from very small to very large, often with multiple ingredients such as humic acids and nitrogen stabilizers added to the blend. Green Valley also operates several other retail locations which would need to be serviced from a central hub plant.
After meeting with Edema and Christian, Sackett recommended installation of a Precision Fertilizer Blending tower (PFB), equipped with a High Intensity Mixer (HIM). Construction began in December 2013, and was completed 11 months later.
“The PFB tower featuring our HIM would offer the accuracy and quality they need for both specialty growers and advanced crop nutrition, such as nitrogen stabilizers, and the speed needed to service the variety of growers, including many row crops,” says Charles Formisani, vice president of sales at Sackett. “Additionally, the blend tower provides extremely high output of straight materials and substantial storage overhead to serve as the hub plant for Green Valley’s retail locations.”
Depending on the number of ingredients, the dry blend tower can produce 185 to 250 tons per hour — fast enough to load ten 25-ton trucks in an hour. (Typical blends include six to ten different ingredients.)
Eight overhead storage bins speed up the process. “We can produce a 3-ton batch every 30 seconds,” Christian and Edema note. “We can customize our service to an individual grower’s needs, and deliver on their tight time schedules.”
The Sackett engineers worked closely with Marcus Construction on the building design and with Murray Equipment on automation. In 2015, the company was a North American winner of DuPont’s Environmental Respect Award because its facility met or exceeded safety standards in water retention and runoff, condensation control with a heated floor and concrete pads in the shipping areas to facilitate cleanup after deliveries.
Results: Fast and Accurate
The new facility was operational in December 2013 and is fast and flexible, meeting GVA’s goals for the project.
In keeping with project objectives, it includes:
Two legal-for-trade or NTEP-Certified weigh hoppers that can weigh two materials simultaneously, significantly reducing weighing time
- A Precision Fertilizer Blending tower featuring a High Intensity Mixer with speeds up to 300 tons per hour
- Flexibility to blend loads ranging from 2 to 50 tons with the same equipment, speed and accuracy
- Enough overhead storage to keep up with peak times
- The flexibility to load trucks with blended materials in two lanes.
“It is very impressive to watch the system in operation and see just how much flexibility it has,” says Formisani. “The first load going out might be a 50-ton truck of straight potash, which takes just a few minutes. The very next load can be a 2-ton load of celery starter with nine ingredients for a local farmer, also just taking a few minutes. Both batches are made nearly 100-percent perfect, and neither slows down the plant’s output. It’s incredibly satisfying for us at Sackett to see Green Valley Ag running so efficiently and keeping its customers and truckers so happy.”
Green Valley Agricultural’s new facility can serve as a hub plant for many of the company’s locations
A truck of urea coated with nitrogen stabilizer using A.J. Sackett’s PFB technology and impregnated urea.
An inside look at the A.J Sackett weigh hoppers at the GVA plant.
The HIM mixer represents the heart of the GVA fertilizer system.
A view of the A.J. Sackett surge hopper at the GVA facility and over-filling a truck.
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