6 Questions to Ask Your Bentonite Sulfur Fertilizer Manufacturer
It’s easy to view elemental sulfur fertilizer as a commodity product. After all, the manufacturing process is relatively simple; the ingredients are minimal and readily available, and there is an abundance of oil and gas producers with sulfur to sell (sulfur is a by-product of petroleum refinement).
The truth is, the quality and consistency of bentonite sulfur will vary dramatically from one company to the next. Choosing a product based on price alone will lead to important trade-offs.
As a fertilizer buyer, product performance, product safety, and handling, and customer service and logistics are all crucial to your success.
So how do you go about choosing a supplier that will provide the best overall value to your business and its customers? Here are six essential questions to ask a bentonite sulfur fertilizer manufacturer before entering a supplier relationship.
1. Do they have data to back claims of degradability?
The quality of the bentonite clay used in the fertilizer will have a significant impact on its ability to degrade in the soil. Manufacturers who use 100% premium clay (not blended with lower-quality clays) will offer consistently superior breakdown over the growing season.
Top clays will have a greater capacity to absorb water and swell, disintegrating pastilles into smaller particles with greater surface area for microbes to convert sulfur into plant-available sulfate. Using top-quality clay will increase the manufacturing cost slightly, but the difference in performance is worth every penny.
Ask the manufacturer to provide research to validate product performance, so you can be confident it will provide your customers the nutrients they are paying for.
2. What steps do they take to reduce dust content and enhance product safety?
There can be stark differences when it comes to the amount of dust present in a load delivered from a bentonite sulfur supplier. Choosing a manufacturer that goes to greater lengths to minimize the dust content will improve the comfort and health of your fertilizer plant workers. (They can tell the difference immediately!)
Inquire what dust collection systems are in place at their plant. Ideally, mechanical dust collection should be conducted at two-stages: on the processing line and before loading and packaging.
3. Are pastilles treated with a proven dust suppressant? Is it applied to ensure consistent coverage?
Dust suppressants provide an extra layer of safety to control any dust that is present and to reduce the generation of fines from subsequent handling. Some suppressants have greater efficacy than others. Find out what dust suppressant is being used. Equally important, quiz the representative to find out if they have special equipment or processes in place to ensure even 360° coverage.
4. Do they batch-test to ensure traceability and quality control?
Manufacturers that batch-test samples of every order going out the door can ensure the product meets their quality standards. In the event of a quality-related issue, an archived sample can be used to investigate.
5. Do they have the capacity and logistics to meet your order?
The fertilizer business has several periods of peak demand. It’s important to know that your bentonite sulfur manufacturer can consistently meet your orders. Inquire about their daily production capacity and ask how much product they have warehoused throughout the season.
6. What shipping options are available?
Like they say, never put all of your eggs in one basket. Ideally, your fertilizer supplier will ship by truck or rail. After all, you never know when a strike or problem with rail capacity can result in delays.
Be inquisitive. Get the answers you need.
By asking the right questions up front, you’ll be better informed to pick a degradable sulfur fertilizer that meets the needs of your business, your customers, and your employees.