Sollio Agriculture aims to boost uptake of next-generation fertilisers with new production plant in Ontario

By Hui Ling Dang

- Last updated on GMT

The new controlled-release fertiliser production plant in St. Thomas was inaugurated in September. ©CNW Group/Sollio Agriculture
The new controlled-release fertiliser production plant in St. Thomas was inaugurated in September. ©CNW Group/Sollio Agriculture

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Canada-based Sollio Agriculture, the agri-business division of Sollio Cooperative Group, has inaugurated a new controlled-release fertiliser (CRF) production plant, which seeks to increase farmers’ access to novel yield-raising fertilisers.

This comes after Sollio Agriculture entered a joint venture in 2021 with several of its cooperatives in Québec, Agromart retail partners in Ontario and the Maritimes, and Pursell, an Alabama-based fertiliser technology manufacturer.

More than C$25m (US$18m) was invested into the 25,800 sq ft plant located in St. Thomas, Ontario, named CRF Agritech.

“The new plant is in line with our efforts to innovate with alternative products and promote sustainable practices that reduce the environmental impact of farming activities, while ensuring the prosperity of Canadian farmers.

“Its strategic location will provide for reliable supply in Eastern Canada and Northeastern US, and reduce freight expenses for our customers. This partnership between the Sollio Agriculture network and Pursell allows us to expand the potential market for this technology, and support nutrient-management initiatives associated with the use of fertiliser products,” ​said Casper Kaastra, CEO of Sollio Agriculture.

Presently, CRF Agritech is the only plant in Canada that has the capability to manufacture custom CRF formulations, including PurYield, using Pursell’s patented coating technology.

It will also be able to produce other coated fertilisers for uses beyond agriculture.

At full capacity, it will manufacture over 100,000 tonnes annually.

The use of CRFs aligns with the internationally recognised 4R Nutrient Stewardship best practices for increased production and farmer livelihood, enhanced environmental protection, and improved sustainability.

“This project promotes skills development and knowledge transfer not only across our retail and cooperative networks, but also in the agricultural community. Through next-generation coating technology and local fertiliser manufacturing, we expect large-scale adoption of innovative agricultural products, given their agronomic and environmental benefits,” ​added Mike Pastir, General Manager of CRF Agritech.

Effective management of nutrient resources brings higher yield

According to the International Fertilizer Association (IFA), the use of coated fertiliser is able to decrease the quantity of fertiliser needed by 20% to 30%, compared to traditional products.

Pursell’s advanced technology enables the application of a coating to fertiliser granules, with the ability to add micronutrients and biostimulants.

Nutrient release in the soil is precisely timed based on individual crop needs, which allows farmers to target when plants receive nutrients, minimising the number of applications across the field.

This helps to mitigate labour shortages that are currently being experienced across the entire agriculture sector.

Furthermore, novel fertilisers such as PurYield offer other advantages, including higher yields through enhanced nutrient uptake by the crops, and reduced loss of nutrients due to surplus moisture and excess rainfall via leaching.

Such attributes could have a positive impact on farm profitability, particularly when growers face extreme weather events.

In July, Sollio Agriculture and McGill University embarked on a research project to evaluate the environmental benefits of PurYield.

Initial results indicated that the use of the fertiliser could potentially lower greenhouse gas emissions by 30%. Further scientific testing and validation is currently under way.

Pursell’s innovative coating materials and proprietary processing techniques facilitate the development of fully customised nutrient blends that fulfil crops’ precise needs as they mature through the growing season.

“The St. Thomas plant is the result of a successful collaboration between committed business partners who share our values. This project combines our strengths, as well as respective knowledge in the fertiliser industry and the field of innovation.

“We’re proud to extend the scope of our technology to new markets, and establish ourselves for the first time in Canada with a partner recognised in the agricultural industry,” ​said Joe Brady, Chief Financial Officer of Pursell.

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