Agriculture

Circle of life? Turlock plant will make organic fertilizers from rendered animals

A plant in west Turlock, Calif. will start producing fertilizer for organic farmers from dead animals rendered by Darling Ingredients, an international company that already has a rendering plant near Crows Landing. The plant, announced on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018, will be in a former Associated Feeds mill.
A plant in west Turlock, Calif. will start producing fertilizer for organic farmers from dead animals rendered by Darling Ingredients, an international company that already has a rendering plant near Crows Landing. The plant, announced on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018, will be in a former Associated Feeds mill.

A plant in west Turlock will soon make fertilizers for organic farmers from the rendered remains of farm animals.

Darling Ingredients Inc., expects to employ 10 to 20 people to start at the 407 S. Tegner Road site, said Rick Geise, fertilizer division director, in a phone interview Tuesday. The potential total was not immediately known.

Starting Jan. 2, the plant will turn out products made with bone, blood, meat and feathers. They have long been used as fertilizer ingredients and are allowed under federal rules for organic farmers.

The raw material will come from Darling’s rendering plants, including one about 7 miles to the southwest on South Carpenter Road.

The products will be sold west of the Rocky Mountains under the Nature Safe label, Geise said. The rest of the nation will be supplied by a Darling plant that has operated in Henderson, Kentucky, since the early 1990s.

Organic farming reached 5 percent of U.S. food sales last year, the Organic Trade Association reported. These producers cannot use synthetic fertilizers, such as nitrogen derived from natural gas, or most pesticides.

“There is continued growth in organic agriculture,” Geise said. “We want to be well-positioned to serve that growth.”

Darling, based in Irving, Texas, has more than 200 rendering plants around the world. They include those in Fresno, San Francisco and Los Angeles, along with the one on Carpenter.

It and other renderers take in dead cattle, poultry, swine and other animals, along with restaurant grease. The waste becomes raw material for fertilizer, fuel, soap, pet food, livestock feed, ink, glue, textiles and many other products.

Darling has not had the troubled history of Modesto Tallow, which closed in 2006 after decades of odor complaints at the north end of Crows Landing Road.

The fertilizer plant will produce about 35,000 tons of Nature Safe in its first year but could double the rate as soon as early as 2020.

It is in a former feed mill on 21 acres at the corner of Tegner and West Main Street. The site used to be part of Associated Feed & Supply Co., which has several mills for cattle, horses, poultry, sheep and other animals.

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