C magazine

Strength in action: Global crop nutrients supply feeds U.S. fields

Unloading urea from vessel

May 05, 2020

Pulled from deep under the Earth's crust in another hemisphere, harvested from ancient seabeds in Florida or transformed from natural gas deposits beneath the American Heartland, it’s a complex journey for crop nutrients from origin to final destination. Every load that arrives at a field at the right time to feed hungry crops is a logistical achievement — one that requires analyzing millions of data points; orchestrating a constantly moving network of ships, railcars, barges and trucks; and managing an extensive supply chain informed by local expertise.

Global crop nutrient supply chain

Crop nutrient supply chain world map
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Playing Home and Away

With an investment in domestic nitrogen production through CF Nitrogen, LLC, and long-term relationships with nutrient suppliers around the world, CHS provides a reliable supply of crop nutrients. A relationship with Mosaic in Brazil also builds overall volume and year-round product movement to enhance the role of CHS in the marketplace. Those connections also mean CHS has access to market intelligence that helps influence fertilizer supply and price for U.S. customers and owners.

Dry fertilizer pie chart

Putting the “Multi” in Multimodal

Counting on a supplier with access to transportation by sea, rail, river and road means there’s always a way to deliver crop nutrients. The spring of 2019 tested that theory, when flooding closed the U.S. river system for much of the spring and CHS logistics experts moved fertilizer by train and truck to northern warehouses. Putting barges on the river is still the most cost-effective and preferred way to move tons when possible.

Cooperatives Call the Shots

With hundreds of local warehouses and a network of efficient crop nutrient hubs, cooperatives control most of the dry fertilizer storage in the Midwest. Not only does this provide a steady, reliable supply of fertilizer for cooperative owners and customers, but it also gives those owners access to patronage derived from fertilizer sales revenues.

Crop nutrients in the U.S. table

CHS Agronomy crop nutrient network 

CHS Agronomy crop nutrient network U.S. map
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Pairing domestic production with global origination, the CHS Agronomy distribution network uses every available means to move fertilizer into place so farmers have the nutrients they need as the growing season unfolds. With access to a deepwater port and multiple transportation modes, CHS teams can position tonnage as efficiently as possible. Constant communication with farmer-owners, cooperatives and fertilizer manufacturers helps CHS create accurate forecasts to ensure shipments arrive on time and are distributed effectively throughout the network.

Liquid fertilizer truck
Nitrogen production
CHS investment in CF Nitrogen, LLC, located in Port Neal, Iowa, provides a steady supply of domestically produced nitrogen fertilizers.

Bulk carrier at port
Deepwater port
The CHS deepwater port at Galveston, Texas, accepts ships filled with urea and phosphate from ports around the world. Nutrients travel north by rail from Galveston.

Loading crop nutrients on vessel
Inland terminals
A network of terminals throughout the U.S., owned by CHS or in partnership with local cooperatives, helps ensure timely delivery of crop nutrients to prepare for the next season and to meet in-season demand.

Barges on the river
River assets
Strategically placed terminals along major U.S. waterways bring tons of imported fertilizer north from New Orleans, La.


SEE MORE: Take a closer look at chsinc.com/Galveston.

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