Fertilizers, when added to soils, improve plant growth and yield and have been used since ancient times by farmers. All plants are made up of living cells whose metabolic functions are responsible for growth and reproduction. As crops are raised, soil nutrients are depleted, such that following crops are not as robust as the initial. Crop rotation has helped in this re guard but modern fertilizers have offered a solution to nutrient replacement.
Fertilizer manufacturing is an energy intensive endeavor and produces some undesirable green house gas by products- carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide is particularly bothersome and great effort must be made to prevent its escape to the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide can be recycled into the manufacture of dry ice or fed to green houses for horticultural uses. Excess heat from fertilizer manufacturing is often converted to electricity and returned to the power grid.
Quality control is the most important component in fertilizer manufacturing such that each stage of the process is closely monitored.
All incoming raw materials and finished products are subject to a multitude of physical and chemical tests to assure that they meet manufacturing specifications. The mechanical quality of the fertilizer is key for spreadability, precise application, low environmental impact and high return on investment. A simple QC test is to take a handful of fertilizer for visual examination: dust and crushed granules indicate low quality, while homogeneous size and smooth surface stand for superior spreadability. The best quality granules have been sifted two or three times (especially for golf course putting green use).
Typical testing includes pH, density, appearance, melting point, and moisture content. Proper specifications for moisture content call for moisture levels to be in the 0.15% to 0.5% range for finished product.
Finna Sensors has been supplying on-line, continuous, non-destructive moisture meters to the fertilizer industry for many years. Near infrared (NIR) sensors have been used at the agglomeration discs and over conveyor belts and screw conveyors and even to sample moisture of product that’s being pneumatically conveyed. Other moisture measurement points are at the sifter where rough product is screened (sometimes several times) to remove fines. Moisture content at this point is important for product adhesion, dust separation, and proper smooth surface characteristics to assure flow ability. The NIR moisture sensor can be mounted over the sifter screen cover looking down onto the product as it enters the screen through the feed sprout. Proper moisture measurement within all these steps of the production process help to assure a quality finished product without undue waste or the necessity to recycle out of spec product. Output signals are available for closed loop control of moisture levels with little or no operator interface.
To get the right tools for your fertilizer moisture sensing needs, order today.
The OMNIR On-Line Near Infrared Moisture Sensor not only delivers accurate data instantaneously and non-destructively, it also monitors its own health to help keep your operation running smoothly. Click the button to see how Finna Sensors can assist in augmenting your fertilizer process.Learn More