1965-66 – Development of the coated-fertiliser process
The coated-fertiliser method was invented by the United States (US)-based agricultural business, Archer Daniels Midland Corporation. Whilst it was initially intended for cereal crops, the product – which they called Osmocote – proved to be too expensive for widespread cultural application. As Osmocote better suited a speciality market, the firm decided to sell the product and the technology.
1966 – Sierra Chemical Company establishes
Two complementary technologies – Osmocote-coated fertiliser and Agriform fertiliser tablets – form the basis for this new company.
1967 – The Osmocote era begins
Sierra introduces the first generation of Osmocote coated fertilisers. These are an NPK granule with an organic resin coating around it – ensuring that just one application of nutrients is sufficient for a long period of time.
1970s – Expansion into Europe and significant product development
The 1970s sees the development and introduction of the new 8–9 month formulation, which reduces growers’ need to topdress crops every three months. This decade also sees Bob Severn, president of the Sierra Chemical Company, make "going to the growers" the ethos of the Osmocote business. This leads to the establishment of major research and development (R&D) facilities in the Netherlands and a global network of technical advisors.
In 1977, the construction of a new manufacturing plant in the Netherlands starts and, in 1978, Sierra opens this new European factory site in Heerlen. The same year (1978) sees the development of Osmocote’s new trace element formulation, Micromax. Made from soluble salts of trace elements, the product contains several sulphates that, when incorporated into soil-less media, boost the available sulphur levels.