Fast loading for farmers with massive new fertilizer blender


A local elevator has invested in a multi-million dollar system in order to mix and deliver fertilizer faster to farmers.

Tri Lake Agri Ltd. in Killarney said that they commissioned the build of the $2.8 million VIS fertilizer blender last year in order to boost the capability of their ag business centre premises just east of town.

And last Thursday they officially launched the enormous blender with a public event, featuring a demo of a loading, which showcased its speed, ease, and efficiency.

Over 100 people attended the unveiling, which included a free BBQ pork-on-a-bun lunch (with homemade potato salad and orange cookies) supplied by the Holmfield Hutterite Colony.

“It’s an investment in the location, in the community, and in our overall assets,” said Brad Cullen, director of operations for Tri Lake Agri in Killarney. “It’s a $2.8 million capital project for Tri Lake, because we defined a need for this kind of service in the Killarney area. Farmers can’t be stuck in a line-up, especially when they are weather-constrained.”

The new blender has cut the mixing and loading time in half, he said.

“We were fast before, and now it’s improved,” said Cullen. “It’s easily twice as fast.”

Adam Urquhart, crop inputs manager at Tri Lake Agri, has been running the control room since the blender began operation last summer.

He programs each order individually, and a visual computer screen in front of him monitors the volume of each bin as it releases its segment of the mix into the top hopper. From there the mix enters the blender, and finally drops into the box of a waiting truck or semi beneath the cone.

“On our demonstration day we loaded 26 metric tonnes of blended fertilizer into a semi, and it took 20 minutes, from start to finish,” he said.

The blender apparatus also means more capacity for storage for Tri Lake Agri, he said.

“We have 10 new hopper bins to hold fertilizer for blending, which hold 1,600 tonnes,” said Urquhart.

“We also have our big shed, with rail access, for storage of more fertilizer, and that also holds 1,600 tonnes. So now we have 3,200 metric tonnes of storage altogether.”

All that storage is important, because demand for inputs is growing, said Cullen.

Macronutrients for a standard fertilizer blend usually include nitrogen, phosphorus, potash, and sulphur, but there are also a wide number of other components and nutrients that can be added to the blending, he said.

“Farmers are using more fertilizer than they did five to 10 years ago,” he said. “We started building our blender last May, and we were using it by last summer. In the next few weeks we are going to be really busy, as guys get onto the fields.”

MIXING IT UP – Last Thursday TLA officially launched their $2.8 million fertilizer mixer with a public event, featuring a loading demo, which showcased its speed, ease, and efficiency. TLA’s director of operations calls it an investment in the location, in the community, and in overall assets.


FAST WITH THE FERTILIZER – Crop inputs manager Adam Urquhart (right) and Tri Lake Agri’s director of operations Brad Cullen (left) pose inside the mixer control room of the company’s new $2.8 million VIS Fertilizer Blender. Computer screens on the desk display the fertilizer bin volumes and a picture of the loading dock itself to operators, while a window view on the left shows the chute projecting below the mixer’s hopper, which is where the trucks roll in for a fast mix and loading.