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September 26, 2013

BIZ BUZZ: Work to start soon on Sagamore fertilizer hub

Farmer-investors hope to finish work by December.

Following a concept reminiscent of a farm co-op, a group of farmers have banded together to buy and sell fertilizer on the wholesale market.

Sagamore Warehouse investors and Logansport city leaders gathered for a ceremonial groundbreaking Tuesday at the Sagamore site on Logansport’s south side, where the warehouse is expected to be up by December. Equipment is due to arrive at the site Nov. 1.

Sagamore Warehouse will be a 30,000-square-foot storage facility for wholesale fertilizer. What’s unique about the project, said president Jim Hedrick of Galveston, is that the 15 investors in the project are all farmers themselves, hailing from various towns across northern Indiana.

“We’ve got some investors that couldn’t make it today,” he said. “They’re out in the field” — taking care of corn and bean crops.

The project, announced early this year, is expected to employ up to 17 people, with a minimum of four full-time and four part-time jobs to start out.

Warehouse workers will mix fertilizer ingredients imported from various locations, according to Hedrick. Potash — a fertilizer form of the element potassium — will probably come from Canada. Phosphates will likely be shipped in from Florida, and liquid nitrogen from Kansas or Oklahoma. Dry nitrogen will probably be imported mostly from Middle-Eastern countries and China.

He emphasized that the ingredients to be housed at the Sagamore facility are different from ones likely involved in a Texas fertilizer plant explosion early this summer.

Farmer-investor Scott Kimbrough, who runs a farm of about 1,700 acres near Windfall, said the Sagamore Warehouse concept allowed the farmers investing in it to stop buying fertilizer retail.

“It’s basically a pure co-op” Kimbrough said. “Any space we don’t use, we can lease to a wholesaler.”

Founders of Sagamore Ag Source, the closed-membership agricultural buying group that’s developing and managing the warehouse, floated the idea among buying group members starting about two years ago. When Kimbrough was introduced to the concept, he thought it was a “no-brainer.”

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