It’s been a great fall for spreading fertilizer and agricultural lime. Distributors are running short of fertilizer and the quarry next door to us is sold out of ag lime.
We talk with fertilizer dealer all the time about why they apply ag lime. Many say their customers demand it or its a service. Since the customer is always right we will deal with the first statement latter. So lets explore how ag lime is a service.
A service is "work done by one person or group that benefits another". How is the dealer serving its customers by selling them a poor quality product? If there are better products out there are you not serving them better by bringing them to their attention?
Many times to get access to enough ag lime it has to be stored off site from where it is made. Believe it or not, there are those that are actually paying to store lime in a building. This is slightly better than piling it in the field or out in the open, but is it the best use of resources?
What if this building was full of potash, phosphates, or other hard to come by fertilizer? Better yet what if you had 98G in the building. Taking 98G in the summer months gives dealers a considerable cost savings. Taking product early can pay for storage in 3 years!
Owning dump trucks
While most cooperatives are in the trucking business, I have only seen a few that own dump trucks. I guess it makes sense if you have the staff and can find plenty of uses for this truck outside of lime season but, a used 2007 Mack dump truck will run you $70,000 to $90,000! Wouldn’t it make more sense to have someone in a floater. Sure you’ll spend more money on the floater but you'll be applying a product that actual works.
Once the ag lime gets to the field you need to get it loaded into the floater. You have two choices, a loader or conveyor. A Loader will run you $70,000-$100,000 plus operator and upkeep. A tow-able floater loader and pickup will be about half that and you still have another operator.
It doesn’t take any more equipment to put 98G in your warehouse and load it with existing equipment. In fact the more tons you move through existing fertilizer equipment the better a dealers margins are and that means they are able to better serve their customers.
Losing 25% or more to drift
A lot of very good quality lime is lost to drift. When ag lime forms a visible cloud it can be 80% or more ag lime.
We are not making this up, the EPA set's opacity and visual emission standards! Ag lime loss to wind is very significant. If this field was an industrial manufacturing plant it could be subject to huge penalties!
Additional lime is lost in spreading.
Again the same principles apply when spreading. When I worked in ag retail and would stop by to ask for ag lime sales from farmers everyone would say, "you can have my business if you spread on a calm day". I have never talked with a farmer that was happy with the wind conditions his lime was spread in.
Even if it