FCL opens new fertilizer terminal in Alberta

The terminal near Grassy Lake is the third such facility opened by Federated Co-operatives Ltd. in the last three years

GRASSY LAKE, Alta. — Speed and volume are key points of emphasis at the new fertilizer terminal that officially opened Oct. 6 in southern Alberta.

The Federated Co-operatives Ltd. facility is the third it has opened within the last three years. The new terminal between Purple Springs and Grassy Lake, Alta., along Highway 3, can load a super-B truck with fertilizer in minutes and dispense up to 400 tonnes in an hour.

“What it’s going to mean to our members in southern Alberta is the fact that it’s going to substantially decrease the time for loading,” said Paul Haynes, chief executive officer of South Country Co-op Ltd.

“Today, typically out of Medicine Hat, we have a leased facility there where… it can take anywhere from two to three hours to load a super-B. So now it’s getting it down to, I hear, six to seven minutes, so the turn-around time will be incredible. It’s going to give farmers a lot more time that they don’t have to spend in line or picking up fertilizer.”

Ron Healey, FCL’s vice-president of ag and consumer business, said the Alberta terminal sits between those in Brandon and Hanley, Sask., in terms of size. It has 34,400 tonnes of product storage compared to the 27,500 tonnes in Brandon and the 45,000 tonnes in Hanley.

The Grassy Lake FCL fertilizer facility has seven product bays and custom blending capabilities. Numbers at the official opening were small to allow for social distancing. | Barb Glen photo

“This would really be a crown jewel in terms of rail options. It’s the only one that has a loop rail track that can receive up to 110 rail cars. The other facilities do have rail options but not to that extent,” said Healey.

“This facility being the third one that we built, we learned from the first two and have had some improvements even beyond what those two had.”

The $42.8 million terminal stores, blends and distributes crop nutrition products, including liquid micronutrients and nitrogen stabilizers.

The rail loop and storage capacity are designed to ensure product availability year round because ingredients can be purchased, delivered and stored when timing and price is right, said Haynes.

Liquid micronutrients stand at the ready in the new fertilizer facility. Custom blending capability is one of its attributes. | Barb Glen photo

“The fertilizer is a tricky business. You have to be able to buy it right, at the right time and at the right price. With this facility, we’ll be rest assured that we’ll have supply 52 weeks of the year and we’ll be able to be competitive throughout southern Alberta.”

As an example, Healey noted phosphate is no longer manufactured in Canada although western Canadian farmers require about 1.3 million tonnes annually. Imported product can be brought in efficiently by rail and stored until needed.

The facility can blend up to 275 tonnes of product per hour, with access to seven product bays for custom blends. Its liquid micronutrient system can coat granules to precise specifications. Dusty product can be oiled in-house.

Full automation is on view at the new FCL fertilizer facility. | Barb Glen photo

The facility was built by PCL and was completed on time and on budget. F. Robert Duerksen, agribusiness manager with PCL, said it required 120,000 hours and was built using primarily local trades and companies. At peak, construction required 104 people on the site.

It now operates with a staff of five and has been receiving product since June.

The heavily farmed and crop diverse region has many options for fertilizer purchase but Haynes said the co-operative model has advantages.

“The money we make is turned back to our members and it stays right here. It doesn’t go down to Arkansas, it doesn’t go to Eastern Canada and it doesn’t go out to B.C. It stays right here in southern Alberta.

“We support local and those same people that buy from us, we buy from them. It’s a circle.”

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