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Making a Ton of Fertilizer

Producing food from the ground up isn’t as easy as it seems. Food production starts with the bountiful natural resources provided by Mother Nature: rich soil, clean water and air. However, in order to produce crops efficiently, missing nutrients in the soil profile need to be supplemented to assure productive yields are achieved.

Adding custom blended plant nutrients assures smart plant growth and the ability to feed more people on less land. Early in the 20th century German Chemist Fritz Haber developed the first practical process to convert atmospheric nitrogen to ammonia, which is nutritionally available to plants. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1918 for this work. Haber’s work with nitrogen fixation was said, “To make bread available out of air.” Today, fertilizer generated by the Haber process is estimated to be responsible for sustaining one-third of the earth’s population.

Creating custom blended fertilizer is a well-orchestrated mix of various nutrients from around the world. The well-orchestrated mix is an elaborate one:

  • Potash is brought from Canada in 70 railcar unit trains
  • Phosphates are brought in by rail or truck from Central Florida
  • Ammonium Sulfate is brought in by rail from Virginia and South Carolina
  • Ammonium Nitrate is brought in from different parts of the world; as close as Mississippi and as far away as Russia
  • Micronutrients are brought in to different ports by containers from South America and other countries, including China, Mexico, and domestically from the New England states
  • After soil samples are taken and tested for existing nutrients in the soil, recommendations are made based on what is needed to make the crop most productive
  • A formula of nutrients needed is created from this recommendation and blended to exacting specifications
  • Trailer delivers prescribed formula of custom blended fertilizer to the field for application