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The Belton Site History

History of The Agromart Group

Overhead view, 1977, of the Belton terminal of The Agromart Group
Belton Site, circa 1977

Many site upgrades

Actual construction of the facility started on November 18, 1996. The site was on a main rail line, which was a benefit for sourcing of global commodities. The original facility was built to a capacity of 45,000 tonnes and included seven, circular domes. Construction of these domes was completed, and the site officially opened on October 17th, 1997. The eighth dome was later constructed in 2002. Each dome is 124 feet across, 59 feet high and the concrete side walls are either 8 or 12 feet tall. The capacity of the domes ranges from 5500 Mt to 9000 Mt depending upon the product and side wall height.

The original office, located in downtown London, ON and the operations within were relocated to the Belton site shortly after completion of the ring domes. In 2006, the 20,000Mt barrel dome was added, increasing the capacity of the Belton site to ~70,000 Mt. In 2010, a “Small Products” building was also added, with 6 bays capable of holding an additional 7500 MT of fertilizer. Today, the total storage capacity of the Belton site is approx. 80,000 Mt.

The receiving capacity of the system is 160-300 Mt per hour (4 trucks or 3 rail cars). The facility has rail capacity for 20 rail cars, on an on-site rail line that circles the perimeter of the property. An under rail high speed rubber receiving conveyor belt, in excess of 200 feet, feeds a 220 foot rotating radial stacker conveyor that relocates with a self-driven hydraulic power system to the dome being filled.

The humble beginnings

The Agromart Group is a 50:50 joint venture business between Sollio Agriculture and 22 independent agricultural retail businesses across Eastern Canada. Formed in 1975, the original partnership was between CIL and 14 independent Ontario Agricultural Retail locations, which operated under the CIL banner. In 1990 the shares of CIL were acquired by ICI chemicals which were then sold in 1993 to Terra International. The retail businesses operated under a division of the Terra brand and the group recognized the need to create a shared identity, which in turn lead to the creation of both the “Agromart Group” brand. Terra maintained their shares until 2000 when they were sold to CHS/Land of Lakes and finally the current owner La Coop Federee in 2008.

The vision for the Belton site was established in June of 1996 by the local leadership of Terra and the 14 Joint Venture retail businesses. At that time, it was decided to build a centralized fertilizer storage depot in the small hamlet of Belton, Ontario on the 25-acre site occupied by the grain elevator facilities of Hutton Farm Supplies, which were previously owned by Cargill. A new retailer owned joint venture business was created (ATI – Agromart Terminals Inc.) to manage and operate this new facility.

Overhead view, 1997, of the Belton terminal of The Agromart Group
Belton Site, circa 1997
Overhead view, 1977, of the Belton terminal of The Agromart Group
Belton Site, circa 2020

The Belton site today

The Belton site is a key inland distribution point for Agromart Group locations residing within central and southern Ontario. Only raw ingredient products are stored at this facility (no blending completed on site). 2 front end loaders, with 6 yard buckets (~5 MT of potash) are used to direct tip fertilizer into awaiting transport trucks. In the heat of a busy fertilizer season, a third loader is brought in to help with demand. There are no customer direct sales done through this facility and all material is shipped directly to retail locations across Ontario.

Products stored on site include fertilizers such as: Urea, PurYield, Potash, SOP, MAP, DAP, ammonium sulphate (AS), MESZ, NitroK and others depending on demand. We also share products with our other terminal locations in Oxford Station (outside Ottawa) and across Quebec.

The site also houses the Sollio Agriculture office, where central, back-end support is provided to Agromart Group retail locations. Support services offered out of the Belton office include, centralized procurement of inputs (crop protection and fertilizer), HR, Finance & Credit, IT, HS&E, regulatory compliance and Product development and marketing functions. The Sollio Agriculture office also acts as the central negotiating arm for initiatives such as new product access, seed sales, misc. farm inputs and group sponsored events. Approximately 30 full time employees work out of the Belton office supporting this business.

As producers get bigger and the planting window becomes more compressed, it is often a challenge to match supply with retailer and producer demand. At peak times, this facility has moved more than 165 x 40MT trailer trucks in one day (~6750 Mt of fertilizer), and averaging 1 truck every 4.5 minutes. It can take up to 5 days to resupply 2 days worth of shipments, which can put a strain on resupply initiatives. Sollio Agriculture continues to invest in both our central and local retail storage and throughput capacities, to ensure we maintain our edge in the marketplace with logistical and service excellence.

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