Source: Agrium Advanced Technologies news release

Agrium Advanced Technologies announced it will be making a multi-million dollar investment to increase production capacity of its ESN "SmartNitrogen" technology.

Work on the facilities began this month and will involve the expansion of the existing production as well as an expansion of the research and development facilities in Sylacauga, Ala., and the addition of new storage and office buildings.

Anticipated enhancements will cost approximately $5.7 million and will employ additional people in the Sylacauga area, including researchers, chemists, technicians, support staff and plant workers. The completion date for the project is expected to be late 2010.

Once fully operational, the ESN production capacity in Sylacauga will reach 20,000 tons per year. This is in addition to the current capacity produced in the plant in Carseland, Alberta. This expansion will ensure that Agrium is able to meet the growing demand for its products.

"Every year we see a solid increase in demand for ESN. We need to ensure that we have the inventory available to meet the growers' needs for this vital product," says Andrew Mittag, president, Agrium Advanced Technologies.

In addition, Agrium Advanced Technologies is continuing the development of a larger ESN coater plant located inside the key U.S. agricultural markets.

The Research and Development Center expansion in Sylacauga will be responsible for the primary research for Agrium Advanced Technologies. The goal is to continue developing new products and processes that provide significant value to end-users through longer lasting, environmentally friendly products. Two new pilot plants will be part of this expansion, which will greatly increase the speed to market as new products are developed.

"The technology we develop will provide end-users with new, more efficient tools to aid in their quest for higher yields, greener turf, and healthier plants, while reducing the environmental impact," Mittag said.

ESN, or Environmentally Smart Nitrogen, is a controlled-release agricultural fertilizer that features a semi-permeable polymer coating that allows water to enter the urea granule, dissolve the Nitrogen inside over time and release as the plant needs it.