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Farley Location Begins Liquid Starter Production
by Brian Kramer, Vice President, Operations
Something new to Innovative Ag Services is now underway at our Farley location. Liquid starter fertilizers are now being produced in Farley after a winter of installing equipment, plumbing, and automation.
The project stemmed from logistical challenges we were facing in the distance in which our starters were coming from as well as the freight costs associated with it. The initial planning phase looked at what investment we would need to make, the ability to generate revenue and the return on capital, as well as how the proposed construction would fit into what we had already for infrastructure within IAS. Farley was chosen as the site due to its existing infrastructure and rail access to bring in raw ingredients. Reacting phosphoric acid, additional ingredient storage, square footage for blending equipment, and additional automation were all considered.
Reacting Phosphoric Acid
One of the first steps in liquid starter production is the reacting of phosphoric acid which is received into the facility by way of rail cars. A mobile reactor from Garden City, Kansas is brought onto the site. The acid is mixed with anhydrous ammonia and the result is a reaction event creating heat of 600 degrees F. Water is used to cool the product which produces a large steam vapor flume and is also incorporated into the blend of product as well. The resulting mixture is 10-34-0 fertilizer which is then pumped into a storage tank on site.
Additional Ingredient Space
It was decided to convert one of the two 1 million gallon liquid storage tanks from 32% nitrogen to store the 10-34-0 liquid. We had developed some additional 32% space at some other locations in recent years so those tons were simply shifted to those sites. Five additional 30,000 gallon fiberglass tanks were added into newly built concrete containment to store additional raw ingredients needed in the starter blends. The four original 30,000 gallon tanks were converted into finished product tanks to store the blended product until it is shipped. Several additional poly tanks were added inside the blending room for ingredients with smaller inclusion rates into the blends.
The existing maintenance shop was converted into a blending room. It now contains a new 15 ton stainless steel liquid blender, a 2 million btu boiler, insulated water tank, (5) poly tanks for ingredient storage, and containment. A new shop area was built from existing warehouse space under the same roof.
In this area, raw ingredients are brought in via plumbing that was installed into the blender and once mixed is pushed out to the finished tanks. The boiler system heats water to be used in blends that require the addition of dry ingredients like soluble potash or urea. The hot water allows the dry ingredients to better dissolve into solution.
The facility in Farley has had a Kahler Automation system integrated into their liquid load out system since it was constructed in 2006. This system received a few upgrades and will continue to be used to load out all the liquid fertilizers produced and shipped from the facility from the two bay load out that had already existed. A certified, legal for trade mass flow meter is used when loading out products which saves time in loading trucks accurately and keeping them from having to scale numerous times to load.
The new batching & blending system is fully automated and is controlled by Junge Control. This system allows the operator to setup numerous batches of starter production at a time. The automation controls the flow of individual ingredients into the blender, allows adequate mixing time, and is then routed to the assigned “finished” tank to await shipment. Some initial runs have shown the ability to manufacture nearly 100 tons per hour thru the new system.
Five new 30,000 gallon liquid storage tanks were added to hold raw ingredients used in the production of liquid starters.
Pictured is the new 15 ton stainless liquid blender with plumbing from the raw ingredient tanks and to the finished product tanks.
A new 2 million btu boiler was installed to heat water to be used in dissolving dry ingredients into solution as part of the starter blends.
A new Junge Control automation system was installed to batch, blend, and route finished starters into storage.