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Jan 19, 2022

Fertilizer granulation increases field application accuracy

Metso Outotec
Metso Outotec
Fertilizers are fundamental to agriculture and involve a mixture of various nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. They also have a large share in the cost of crops. In addition, precision fertilization has grown in more mechanized crops, with the aim of reducing wind drag costs, dosage above crop demand and in lines where seed application will not occur. Therefore, the fertilizer needs to be granulated to obtain precision in its dosage by automated machines.
Metso understands the fertilization process. Granulation plays a role in transforming fertilizer nutrients into a final product
Fertilizer granulation creates the final product

The technological answer to this is to increase the size of the fine particles into granules and make all the nutrients available in a single grain. One such process is wet granulation. With it, fertilizer producers deliver the fertilizer in the quality required by the farmer, increase the added value of their product, reduce the generation of dust when handling the material and the formation of agglomerates during storage.

Rotary drum is the usual equipment in granulation plants

In addition to significantly reducing dust and improving handling, granulation allows raw materials to be recovered and waste to be transformed into marketable products. The wet process is not pressurized like the dry technique and basically adopts tumbling and rotating the material for agglomeration.

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Of all the equipment used in this operation, the preferred ones are the dish granulator and the rotating drum. The choice involves some variables. The first one is the physical-chemical characteristic of the raw materials, but three other factors need to be taken into account: required granulation range, estimated amount of recycling and the plant's production capacity. With this data in hand, fertilizer producers can begin to choose.

The dish granulator, suitable for plants with smaller capacities, is an open and more difficult machine for controlling the emission of particulates and vapors. It is also ideal for plants with less fouling products due to its greater cleaning difficulty. The rotating drum, on the other hand, is indicated for plants with greater capacity and where the requirement for a more stable production in terms of granulometry is mandatory. It is a closed system, that is, it allows better pollution control and is more flexible for materials that are difficult to granulate.

Granulation plant involves equipment other than the drum

The advantages of the rotating drum thus make it the usual choice for wet fertilizer production. In addition to the characteristics already mentioned, it is also an equipment of easy construction, operation, with emphasis on the maintenance of the cleaning of the machine. Flexibility is another favorable point: the drum facilitates the mixing of the solid with the liquid phase and promotes rapid grain formation, regardless of the type of raw material and the unit's production capacity.

For those who are going to assemble or expand the plant, it is important to remember that, in addition to the rotating drums used as granulators, dryers, coolers and coaters, a typical granulation involves the application of devices such as conveyors, sieves, mills, bag filters, gases, hot gas generator, and liquid effluent treatment station.

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