£40 million statement of faith in Teesside fertiliser manufacturing as demand grows

CF Fertilisers is to invest £40M in British fertiliser production following rising demand for its Ammonium Nitrate (AN) based products and two years of record outputs at its manufacturing sites in Cheshire and Teesside.

The investment will be made at the company’s North East-based Billingham complex building on the near 100-year heritage of fertiliser manufacturing at the site.

The development is a real statement of faith in UK fertiliser production and British agriculture as a whole, says CF Head of Sales and Marketing Sam Bell.

“We are convinced growers will increasingly need quality-assured, consistent products produced in a traceable and environmentally-audited manner in the future not only to deliver reliable field performance but also meet the more stringent demands of buyers and legislators,” she explains.

“All CF fertilisers already carry full carbon footprints authorised by the Carbon Trust. Since 2010, we have reduced the carbon footprint of straight AN production by 47% and the new investment will allow us to continue development of manufacturing processes and products alike.

“We are now the only company manufacturing high quality AN in the UK with our iconic blue bags a feature on farms up and down the country and names like Nitram, DoubleTop and MultiCut Sulphur very much part of growers’ day-to-day language.”

According to Billingham site manager Keith Brudenell, the bulk of the money will be spent on two key projects to improve the infrastructure and production capabilities of the Billingham site with development of other facilities and equipment also planned.

“The first priority is a £15.75M project to upgrade and rationalise the Billingham high voltage electricity distribution network including replacement of switchgear on the Ammonia plant and upgrading those on the fertiliser production units,” he says.

“The new high voltage network will be ‘state of the art’ with a lifespan in excess of 40 years giving us significant power security for future needs and making for more efficient production.”

The second major project is a £15.5M upgrade to the Ammonia reforming plant designed to extend its life by 20 years.

“This will involve replacement of the steam reforming equipment and gas transmission piping on the high temperature part of the plant and our aim is to complete the upgrade by 2020.”

In addition, CF Fertilisers is investing £8M to replace a range of equipment in one of its acid plants to improve reliability and meet the growing demand, he adds.

“The investment at the facilities is the largest for 20 years and will create over 100 temporary jobs during its execution over the next two years.

“Importantly, it will allow us to continue the long history of Ammonia and fertiliser manufacture at Billingham and make sure we are in the best shape possible to look after the needs of all our employees and customers as we approach our 100 year anniversary in 2023.”

CF Fertilisers is best known for its Nitram 34.5%N AN fertiliser which has been produced for over 50 years.

The company has also pioneered the development and use of Sulphur-based fertilisers following the general industrial clean-up of the last 30 years and the resulting reduction in pollution.

CF also manufactures a range of AN-based True Granular Compound fertiliser products containing different combinations of key nutrients including potash and phosphate alongside Nitrogen and Sulphur.

Over the years, CF has invested considerable resources in trials programmes with the likes of ADAS and DEFRA to establish best practice management for fertiliser use in the UK.

The company now manufactures over 1.5M tonnes of products every year in the UK, equivalent to 40% of the country’s total fertiliser requirement.

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.