Williston business plans big expansion of soil stimulator

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Farm Forum

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — A Williston business plans to expand its production of a soil stimulator with help from a city grant.

Leonardite Products is making a $2 million move to boost its capacity tenfold, the Williston Herald (http://bit.ly/1F1dwuW ) reported. The company is expected to add 20 jobs.

“Since 2008, we have been testing the market, looking for the right type of financing to put this back together again,” said Cherie Harms, co-owner and president of the company. “What we are doing right now hasn’t been ideal, but it’s been helping us gain customers to check out the market. We’ve learned, and we are very confident, that there is a much bigger market for our product.”

Leonardite, which is named after the first director of the North Dakota Geological Survey, is found between white dolomite shales in the first roughly 20 feet below the surface. The substance helps increase water retention and soil richness.

Deposits of Leonardite exist all over the world, including in Canada, Greece and Australia, but the best deposits in the world are in Williston, according to the business.

“We don’t really have any competition in the U.S.,” Harms said. “There’s some competition in China, but our quality is better.”

Europe has the largest markets for Leonardite because it has long been considered among the most productive of inputs to sustainable agriculture available. It’s starting to take off in the U.S., but the main markets Leonardite Products is shooting for with its expansion are in Europe, Harms said.

“There are markets we cannot service because our processing center is not quite, it cannot handle it,” she said. “We know we have the market to increase our income substantially, though, if we can just increase our production.”

The business is getting a $162,000 grant from a city fund that will be used to buy down interest on loans.

“We are really looking forward to continuing to grow in the Williston area and contributing to the economy and providing stable employment,” Harms said. “What I really like about this company is, it’s really diversified, because we are not only agriculture, we are not only oil, and we don’t sell anything in the state.”