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Fertilizer Storage Fabric Building Provides Urea Storage Solution


The 62' X 100' fertilizer storage fabric building

was placed on a 10' high concrete wall.


Customer:  CENEX VCL Fertilizer Storage

Location:  Valley City, North Dakota

Building Size: 62' x 100 Application Fertilizer Storage Fabric Covered Building


When Gary Wieck began working for Cenex Veal as the Ag Product Manager, the Valley City facility was supplying approximately 1500 tons of crop nutrients, including fertilizer urea to the Barnes County area. In 2002, the projected crop nutrients are expected to exceed 8000 tons.

Most of their 2 million dollars of crop nutrients is custom applied to more than 40,000 acres by their two Lor AI custom applicator units. "Having the supply to meet the demand requires solid planning and execution. Over the years, the window for application has decreased," says Wieck, "When it comes to handling large shipments of fertilizer urea and providing custom application services, timing and planning is everything."

Fertilizer urea is a nitrogen source shipped in high volumes and requires a large, well-ventilated, dry storage space. Cenex VCL is using five different locations to store their fertilizer urea shipments, the need to expand their storage space had become a high priority. "When you're handling 4000 tons of fertilizer urea, there are only one or two opportunities a year to purchase product. We are solely dependent on truck transport. Handling and finding enough suitable storage space was creating major stress for our employees as well as our trucking alliance," says Wieck. "The logistics of moving that much product in and out of five different locations and having trucks available when you need them was a continual challenge."

The solution seemed simple - construct a suitable fertilizer urea storage facility and eliminate the cost of continual handling and waste. "We looked at everything: wood structures, concrete structures, steel structures. What proved to be the major challenge was hanging a conveyor system and maintenance of a safety catwalk from the buildings truss. "Some building suppliers wouldn't even quote on the project," says Wieck.


The load numbers for the conveyor and catwalk system with a full load were 200 lbs. per square foot. All of the design plans presented were either not practical from a financial point of view, or not possible without installing support posts in the middle of the building. We wanted a open-span floor area so the custom application equipment with their 60 and 90 foot wide booms could be stored inside the building when empty.  A 62' by 100' tension fabric building was chosen. Unlike steel, wood and concrete buildings, where the walls are constructed to support a roof truss system, the fabric buildings technology is a roof truss system from the ground up. By designing the appropriate concrete wall foundation and decreasing the base span widths of the fabric buildings steel trusses to five foot on center, the fabric building was able to meet the wind and snow loads as well as safely support the conveyor and catwalk.


A ground core study showed that excavation had to be done to eliminate six feet of inadequate loose soil. Once a firm clay base was established, a plastic moisture barrier was put down to prevent moisture migrating through the cement into the fertilizer  storage fabric building. An eight-Inch thick concrete slab was poured to create the 62 by 100 foot floor. The 10-foot high, 12-inch thick concrete walls were constructed with a heavy re-enforcement of rebar to meet the engineered horizontal loads for the walls. The 21 trusses of the fertilizer urea storage fabric building were positioned on top of the wall, five foot on center.


"These fabric buildings are ideal for fertilizer storage," says Johnson. 'Fertilizer doesn't affect the polyethylene fabric and the galvanized steel has an added coating for corrosion protection."

"We now have a suitable fabric building facility to store a large amount of fertilizer urea," says Wieck. "The fertilizer urea looks as good coming out as it did when it went in. There is no sweating or bonding of fertilizer urea and the floor isn't slippery. The high ceiling and ventilation system keeps the quality of the fertilizer urea consistent and has eliminated any ammonia odor. The fertilizer storage fabric building is cool in the summer and allows natural light. The additional benefit is that we can store our custom application units in the fertilizer fabric building when the building is empty. We are extremely pleased with the investment."


• A plastic moisture barrier was put down to prevent moisture migrating through the cement into the fertilizer building.

• The 10-foot high. 12-inch thick concrete walls were constructed with a heavy re-enforcement of rebar to meet the engineered horizontal loads for the walls of the fertilizer storage fabric building.

• Base spacing for the 21 steel truss frames was 5 foot on center for the fertilizer storage fabric building.



The 12" thick concrete walls were engineered

and constructed to meet heavy horizontal loads

in fertilizer storage fabric buildings.



The 21 arch trusses were placed 5' on center to

support catwalk and conveyor systems and to

meet wind and snow loads for this fertilizer fabric building.



Full load numbers for conveyor and catwalk system

are 200 lbs. per sq. ft. in fertilizer fabric buildings like this.



Cage fire escapes were installed at both ends

of the fertilizer fabric building for maintenance access

and to meet Federal Safety Regulations.


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