Agrium to build ESN plant in Missouri

Canadian fertilizer and ag retail giant Agrium will build a new factory in Missouri to make its polymer-coated nitrogen fertilizer product, ESN.

Agrium on Thursday announced it will spend US$36 million to build a facility starting next month at New Madrid, a city on the Mississippi River about 200 km north of Memphis, Tenn.

ESN, short for Environmentally Smart Nitrogen, is a nitrogen fertilizer with a semi-permeable polymer coating that allows water to enter the urea granule, dissolve the N inside based on temperature and moisture, and release as the plant needs it.

The product is used by growers of corn, wheat, canola, potatoes, and other crops, the company said, touting benefits such as improved yield and environmental friendliness due to ESN’s more “controlled release” of N.

The coating facility, which is to start operations next year with 18 full-time staff, is expected to have an annual production capacity of 120,000 tons “and has been designed such that capacity could be doubled in the future,” Agrium said.

The incremental capacity is to bring Agrium’s total ESN production capacity to 360,000 tons at three separate locations. ESN is currently made at Carseland, Alta., east of Agrium’s hometown of Calgary. But Agrium in March also announced expansions at another facility at Sylacauga, Alabama, southeast of Birmingham, for ESN production by late next year.

“We selected New Madrid due to its great access to markets, its skilled workforce and its location on the Mississippi River, making it ideally suited for our business,” said Andrew Mittag, president of Agrium Advanced Technologies, in a release Thursday.

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