Farmers Forum staff
MAITLAND — A $25-million fertilizer plant has broken ground at Maitland as Eastern Ontario-based V6 Ag moves production of its multi-compound granular fertilizers out of Europe.
For the last seven years, the small company headquartered in North Augusta, northeast of Brockville, has been importing its custom granular fertilizers made by a contracted European manufacturer.
“After completing a lengthy feasibility study, it was a logical, natural progression for us to grow our business and bring production home,” company founder and president Ryan Brophy told Farmers Forum.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting sanctions against Belarus — an important fertilizer supplier to Brophy’s European contractor — also played a role in the decision to on-shore production in Canada, he said.
Set to go online in the fall of 2024, the 58-acre plant site is located east of the Invista (formerly Dupont) chemical factory and west of the historic blue church on Highway 2, between Brockville and Prescott.
Currently, the company’s granular fertilizer arrives from Europe as a finished product at the port of Montreal. With the shift to domestic production, Brophy intends to ship in raw fertilizer ingredients through the nearby Port of Johnstown, to be processed into the multi-compound granular product in Maitland. He also envisions the local port shipping out V6 Ag products.
To date, western Canada has been the company’s main focus. Most product has been retailed out of Wilcox, Saskatchewan, to canola growers, after arriving there by rail. However, Brophy plans big inroads into the Ontario marketplace — and the rest of the continent — by wholesaling to existing agribusinesses serving the crop farmers here. He already sells directly to some Eastern Ontario corn growers through his North Augusta farm, though he intends future growth to come as a wholesaler, not a retailer.
Their flagship debut product, Eleven Superstart, is comparable to corn starter and contains 11 key ingredients within each granule. This summer, the company launched a granular soybean fertilizer, Soy7 Max. It’s also developing one for pulse crops.
“To date, we’ve had our product applied to 875,000 acres across the prairies,” he says. “We’re such a small player at present but our target is to be making 35,000 tonnes annually within the next two years for the Canadian prairies, and we’re really working on greater penetration through retailers in Manitoba and Ontario.” The company also started selling in the American midwest last year, and plans a “serious play” into the northeastern U.S. with its soybean fertilizer.
Eventually, Brophy aims to be making 200,000 tonnes of product annually in Maitland, up from the 10,000 tonnes now distributed by V6 Ag, currently an $11 million company.
An agronomist by trade, Brophy first noticed the potential of multi-compound granular fertilizers as a more efficient alternative to bulk-blended fertilizer about 20 years ago. He sees bulk fertilizer as out of step with current trends. “It’s shotgun fertilizer application in a precision agriculture era,” he explains. “We’re trying to add that sniper angle, adding precision nutrient delivery to precision agriculture.”
Because the specific blend of nutrients is precisely built into each granule, there’s none of the nutrient segregation that happens when applying bulk fertilizer, he says. “Root interception is guaranteed, and it’s just so much more efficient,” he says, adding it also means less waste and lower fertilizer emissions. “These are things that really suit regenerative agricultural practices. That’s what’s going to make it really exciting.”
The new factory will produce its own electricity by running canola oil in a generator, according to Brophy. A canola crushing plant is planned for that purpose, and he intends to secure Ontario-grown canola.
Plans also call for a research farm on the factory property, in cooperation with Trent University’s school of the environment. Researchers will “test upcoming crop nutrient solutions and soil amendments,” he says.