Ron Thorpe has been using liquid fertilizer on his east central Saskatchewan farm for nearly 30 years. But it wasn’t until this past January when an exceptional deal on the price of fertilizer and a 25 per cent drop in the price of stainless steel coincided to make more on-farm storage both practical and affordable.
Up until this winter, the farmer from Spy Hill had six 5,000 gallon “mild steel” storage tanks that held a total of 120,000 pounds of liquid sulphur or nitrogen fertilizer. That represented only a few days worth of fertilizer to be applied at seeding.
With the addition of one stainless steel 50,900-gallon tank from Novid Inc. of Rosenort, Man., Thorpe has on-farm storage for about 85 per cent of the fertilizer he’ll need at seeding this spring.
“Our small storage system only holds about three days worth of fertilizer when we’re seeding, and there have been times when we’re almost down to the last fill before the truck shows up. It was starting to get scary. You don’t want to stop if you don’t have to,” he says. “And just the way things were shaping up this year I was concerned we might not get fertilizer when we needed it.”
Thorpe, who produces spring wheat, oats, barley, flax and canola, bought the largest fertilizer storage tank Novid manufacturers. With capacity for 50,900 gallons of liquid product, the tank is 16 feet in diameter and 40 feet tall. Novid makes a wide range of tank sizes down to a 15,000-gallon tank.
Using a direct seeding airdrill with a mid-row banding system for fertilizer, Thorpe applies all fertilizer at time of seeding. He uses a granular phosphate, which is applied in the seed row, while the liquid sulphur and nitrogen blend is applied below and to the side of the seed row.
Aside from an improved price, Thorpe went with a Novid tank because he also “liked the reputation of stainless steel.”
“These stainless steel tanks are long term storage solutions for liquid fertilizer,” says Brent Friesen, Novid company manager. They have a life span of 40 years or more. Stainless steel is suitable for all types of fertilizer.
Cost depends on size. The 16 foot by 40 foot tank, for example, sells for 83 per gallon, which is about $42,200. It takes two to six weeks from time of order to delivery on the farm. Depending on the soil type, the tanks need a solid base of 12 to 24 inches of crushed rock or concrete. Novid will deliver and erect tanks anywhere in Western Canada.
Lee Hart is a field editor for Grainews in Calgary, Contact him
at 403-592-1964 or by email at [email protected]