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Agrimarketing : October 2008
MAKING FERTILIZER MORE EFFICIENT : Specialty Fertilizer Products Name: Larry Sanders, Ph.D. Title: CEO/Co-Founder Career: Prior to co-founding SFP, he worked in sales, marketing, research, development and education for organizations such as the American Plant Food and the Potash & Phosphate Institute. He was a Rockefeller Foundation consultant to Bangladesh and Indonesia and has served as an international educator throughout Canada and Asia. Education: B.S. in agronomy from the University of Louisiana, M.S. in Soil Science and Ph.D. in Soil Fertility-Plant Nutrition from the University of Arkansas. AM: What is Specialty Fertilizer Products (SFP)? LS: SFPwas founded in 1998 as a research and development company to help growers overcome some of agriculture’s long-standing chal- lenges with fertilizer inefficiencies. Throughout my career as an agronomist and soil scientist, I’ve witnessed firsthand the costly losses associated with poor nutrient uptake. In fact, as much as 95% of applied phosphorus fertilizer becomes fixed in the soil, making it unavailable for plant uptake. Similarly, up to 50% of nitrogen applied to crops worldwide is lost, rather than being used by plants. Unwilling to accept these natu- rally occurring fertilizer inefficiencies as “just part of farming,” I created the chemistry behind SFP’s two prod- ucts, AVAILand NutriSphere-N. AVAIL, a phosphorus fertilizer enhancer, helps reduce phosphorus fixation in the soil, and NutriSphere- N, a nitrogen fertilizer manager, reduces volatilization and nitrifica- tion of applied nitrogen fertilizer. Backed by more than ten years of uni- versity and independent research, both products provide season-long benefits and leave no environmental footprint. SFP distributes AVAILand NutriSphere-N throughout the U.S., and we’re rapidly expanding into international markets. 62 AgriMarketing ¦ October 2008 AM: How are the high fertilizer prices affecting your business? LS: Growers are looking for new, cost-effective ways to maximize their fertilizer investment without compromising yields. As fertilizer prices continue to rise, AVAILand NutriSphere-N allow producers to get maximize their fertilizer investment. Fortunately, SFP has capitalized on the changing market conditions by providing the right products at the right time. Inc. Magazine recently recognized SFP as one of the top 500 fastest growing privately-held com- panies in America in 2008. SFP also ranked No. 8 in its list of the fastest- growing 100 U.S. manufacturing companies. AM: What are your thoughts on environmen- tal concerns associated with fertilizers? LS: In order to feed and clothe the world’s growing population we must continue to use fertilizer responsibly. The key is not to eliminate fertilizer but to utilize it more efficiently. The agricultural industry has made — and will continue to make — consid- erable strides in providing innova- tive technologies that support envi- ronmental stewardship. SFP’s AVAILand NutriSphere-N help growers get more efficiency from their fertilizer, offering more yield potential and less environmen- tal impact. SFP recently sponsored the Conservation Technology Informa- tion Center’s Conservation in Action Tour, which showcased five central Indiana farmers who have mastered innovative conservation practices. The tour provided a powerful reminder of how far the industry has come in doing more with less. AM: How does SFP approach marketing? LS: The science behind AVAILand NutriSphere-N is new to many peo- ple, making education vital to our success. Despite the well-recognized concerns impacting the industry, such as fertilizer prices and environ- mental impact, many growers are unaware of new options available to help offset these concerns. SFP is committed to helping growers understand the AVAILand NutriSpehere-N technologies and how they can maximize fertilizer efficiencies. The extensive knowledge of SFP’s employees and its five major distrib- utors are integral in the education process. SFP strongly believes in the value of strategic advertising and public relations to support grower awareness and understanding. We also recognize the importance of supporting local and national orga- nizations committed to the advance- ment of agriculture, soil science and agronomy. SFPis built on the belief that our own success is directly related to the success of the industry. AM: What challenges do you see for agri- culture in the next five years? LS: The constant battle of food versus fuel will top the list. We are facing a sit- uation where economic conditions, including high land and input prices, will force everyone to make difficult decisions. With a strong commitment to sustainable agriculture, agribusiness will continue to meet and overcome the present and future challenges. AVAILand NutriSphere-N will continue to provide growers with maximum effectiveness for phospho- rous and nitrogen fertilizer, respec- tively, while minimizing their envi- ronmental footprints and allowing agriculture to produce both food and fuel in greater quantities. AM
November December 2008