New state-of-the-art fertilizer facility unveiled near Taber, Alta.

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A new co-op fertilizer terminal is open between Taber and Grassy Lake, Alta., which boasts customizable blends for producers and rail access for international markets. Emily Olsen reports – Oct 6, 2020

A new terminal is making waves as the first of its kind in Alberta.

The $42 million co-op fertilizer facility between Taber and Grassy Lake, Alta., offers more than just run-of-the-mill fertilizer supplies by blending and distributing crop nutrition products, including liquid micronutrients and nitrogen stabilizers, and the state-of-the-art technology offers customizable options.

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“Farmers will be able to come in [and] they’ll be able to get the right blend for their crop, depending on where their area is and where they’re farming,” CEO of South Country Co-op Ltd. Paul Haynes explained.

The Grassy Lake facility can also store more than 34,000 metric tonnes and has built-in access to a loop track that can accommodate up to 110 rail cars. 

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Officials say this will make phosphate, which is no longer produced in Western Canada, more readily available.

“The market here takes about 1.3 million metric tonnes of phosphate per year,” vice-president of agriculture and consumer business for Federal Co-operatives Limited Ron Healey said. “That all has to be imported into Western Canada right now, so facilities like this are going to be increasingly important.”

The facility currently has five full-time employees who say the advanced technology makes it a smooth process.

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“There’s not much hands-on,” terminal operator Charlie Liebrecht said. “It’s all automated so everything is really user-friendly.”

They also say the feedback from farmers in the first month of operation says it all.

“They love it,” terminal operator Kayne Watts said. “From sign in to sign out, we can load a truck in 15 minutes. It’s about four to five minutes to load a 45-tonne truck.”

Government officials are optimistic this will pair well with other agricultural innovation in the area.

Read more: Province announces grants to further boost southern Alberta’s agriculture sector

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“We have everything we need to be able to make this the agrifood processing corridor of Canada,” Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter said on Tuesday, adding that new nearby irrigation projects will be announced later this week to encourage further industry growth in southern Alberta.

In the meantime, the new fertilizer terminal is giving producers from central Alberta to southwestern Saskatchewan a leg up in producing higher quality Canadian food.