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Omya completes first stage improvements to fertilizer granulation plant

Published by , Deputy Editor
World Fertilizer,

Omya, a global producer of industrial minerals and a distributor of specialty ingredients, has announced the completion of the first round of improvements to its granulation facility in Wathena, Kansas, which produces granulated products made from limestone, gypsum or dolomitic lime for the agriculture and turf and ornamental markets. Omya acquired the plant in 2022 with a commitment to investing in the business and developing it into a high-performance workplace with opportunities for advancement.

The new management team has spent almost two years improving the facility and raising its operations up to the company’s high standards, including capital improvements that enhance environmental health and safety. Omya is investing US$6 million into plant assets and infrastructure through the end of 2024. Now the company is celebrating the first major milestone in this ongoing effort with the successful installation of advanced controls on dust collectors and the completion of a new hiring campaign that increased the plant workforce by 40% with above-average pay and benefits to the community.

Omya’s long-term investment in the plant’s employees and working environment is transforming the facility into a world-class producer of crop nutrition and soil conditioning products for customers in many key markets, including row and specialty crops, turfgrass and the home retail industry. Omya chose this location in Wathena, Kansas to anchor its growing presence in the heartland of the US where the company can have the greatest impact in delivering high-quality specialty fertilizer products to Midwest farmers for decades to come.

Expanding and developing the workforce

Physical improvements are just one aspect of the plant’s revitalisation. Hiring and training a thriving frontline workforce is also central to the endeavour, along with cultivating a strong safety culture. Omya’s Wathena plant continues to hire, offering full-time production worker roles. Development plans also call for hiring more technicians, managers and engineers.

This first phase of the plant enhancement project is focused on health and safety upgrades, repairs and maintenance throughout the property, supply chain efficiency, product quality and process improvements that save workers time and energy, elevating employee satisfaction. For example, the plant’s new management team leveraged Omya’s internationally respected engineering prowess to address the challenge of improving dust collection sitewide to comply with the company’s worldwide requirements. By installing new dust collection equipment and improving dust mitigation processes, Omya reduced the amount of airborne particulates inside the plant and discharged into the atmosphere.

“We’re proud of how far the plant has come as a workplace since we started all the upgrades and hiring,” said the plant’s new Director of Operations, Olav Bergset. “Our dust mitigation engineering has made a huge difference that you can see as soon as you walk in. The air is clearer and the surfaces are cleaner. And we have more improvements in store. Omya is all in on making this a great place to work.”

Gaining access to advanced soil products

With the plant ramping up hiring and production, farmers throughout the Midwest and beyond have a new option for high quality granulated soil nutrients and conditioners. Located at the crossroads of both the Midwest and Great Plains, Omya’s Wathena plant is well positioned to serve farmers and other customers throughout the United States.

This improvement initiative is built on Omya’s dedication to enhancing production capabilities to cater to the dynamic needs of US farmers more effectively. With the modernisation of its Midwest granulation facility, Omya is prepared to expand to serve new US markets. The renovated plant also offers a new level of product quality and service to the Midwest agricultural sector.

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