Dean Nelson:

Howdy. This is Dean Nelson with Nelson Plant Food. And, 40 years later, here we are. This is our plant where we store our bulk materials. We probably have 60 different ingredients in here, just in this one warehouse. We have many different nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium sources, many different micronutrients. This green stuff here is a four to five month slow release nitrogen, Nutralene. It’s in all of our products. And, depending on the weather, it determines how it releases. The other one is Nitroform. It’s a sister product, the blue stuff. It’s similar to Nutralene, but it lasts longer. Whereas, other people put slow release fertilizers that lasts two to three months, ours will last six to eight months.

And here’s our phosphorus source we use is monoammonium phosphate. It has a 4.5 pH, and it’s extremely abatable. So, we just go all over the world, and we look for the best ingredients we can find and put it in our NutriStar and our ColorStar, and our TurfStar products. So, this is step one. Raul, who’s been with us for 30 years, is on the front end loader, and he goes and gets out the ingredients from each bin, and weighs it in this weigh scale that weighs up to 8,000 pounds. And he’s very accurate. This scale gets to within one pound of what’s needed, and then we run this conveyor on up to our blender. This is step one.

So, once the four ton batch is ready, we turn on the conveyor, and it runs it up into the blender. And this is a state-of-the-art twin screw blender, and we only blend it for about a minute because, once it comes out of the weigh scale, it’s about 75% blended. So, we hit it a little bit with our blender, and we just let it all stay up there together until it’s all done. And then, we dump it all at once down to this conveyor right here. We don’t want it to separate. That’s a big challenge in dry blending fertilizer is separation of the particles because the bulk density of everything is so different. And we try to get consistently sized particles the best we can, but we still have to take a lot of precautions to make sure that it stays consistent in the jar and in the bag.

So, here we are, the blend is complete, and we are transferring it over to the bagging operation. We go up this small incline conveyor and go up the elevator, which carries it over to the screener. And the screener, everything we make goes through screeners, and we do the screener to get out any foreign material, any oversized clumps. We want to make sure that everything that goes into every single bag or every single jar is good, clean, finished product. So, here we have Eusebio. He’s been with us for 30 years. We do open mouth bags because all of our products are different, and you just cannot mechanize this part of the production. Our bags are also clear. We have done clear bags from day one. I wanted everyone to see our quality ingredients, and we are the only people that I know of in the industry that uses clear bags.

We also got this robot about four years ago. It has helped a lot. We’re not doing it any faster, really, but it helps our guys to go home at night and not so tired. And each bag has its own label on it. Each customer gets their own custom blended formula, and that’s really the secret to how we built this business. Every individual customer gets their own individual product. So, we started 40 years ago just selling turf fertilizer to golf courses, cemeteries, landscapers, and this is First Colony. They are one of our first customers, and we’re still selling to them 40 years later. They’re good people. And then, I came up with ColorStar for flowers. We sell that to 11 different states. Landscapers, it’s the go-to fertilizer for landscapers when they’re planting their annual color beds. Our TurfStar line I came out with last spring has been very successful.

It has the six-month nitrogen that nobody else has. We have a weed formula. We have a pre-emergent formula. We have a summer formula. This is a custom blend for a grower here in Texas. And we’ve started doing growers. Heinz was actually our first grower that we ever sold to, sold to them until they went out of business. That was probably about 25 years that we sold to them. So, here we’re coming into our warehouse where we do our small jars, and we have our hibiscus, plumeria, Bougainvillea, Crepe Myrtle. ColorStar, of course, our NatureStar line. We have organic tomato, and these are the same jars I’ve used since the ’90s. The formulas are the same. I just have a knack for being able to talk to industry professionals and talk about the flowers, what they need, what kind of nutritional needs they have, and I know the ingredients and I know the Texas weather.

I’ve been here all my life, and I just have a knack for putting things together. And, of course, we test everything. Here is a new product here that we came up with last year. I invented this. It’s called Genesis. It’s a pre-plant fertilizer, and we don’t even have a label for it. But I made up 600 jars like this, and we gave it to landscapers, growers, professionals, and it’s come back with really great reviews. So, we’re going to start processing that. And we just figure out what’s the best fertilizer for the plant, whether it’s, like I said, for homeowners or growers or landscapers. And we’ve just been privileged to do that for 40 years.