Local company producing new, all natural fertilizer out of landfill items

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Photo courtesy of Reuben Maxbauer

Whether you're a commercial farmer, or just an average homeowner, you want the things you plant, to do well.

That means getting rid of weeds, watering, and probably using fertilizer. One local company is producing a special kind of fertilizer while getting great results - and it's made from things that usually end up in a landfill.

"I see the difference, the corn is real healthy," said Lee Eggert.

A field full of corn, almost ready for harvest. This farm in Deerfield Michigan, has been in Eggert's family for more than 40 years - it goes back generations.

There's a lot of tradition here, but also something new, something  that Lee says, makes his corn grow better than ever.

"It's kind of handed down, but there's always new technology every year," said Eggert, of Longshot Farms. "And you have to be open minded to try."

Plant Tuff is a silicon fertilizer, made right here in Michigan. The company says it's 100 percent recyclable and sustainable. And surprisingly, it all starts with steel.

"It comes from a co-product in iron and steel making," said Reuben Maxbauer, general manager, Plant Tuff, Inc. "When they make metal this product is removed from the metal."

Then they blend it, process it and turn it into fertilizer that can go back into the soil. It contains no harsh chemicals. In fact, they say it's pet-friendly, human- friendly and earth- friendly.

Everything about the operation is as green as possible, down to the front-end loader used which is a hybrid - half diesel, half electric. It is one of the first in Michigan and the company says it saves about 50 percent of its fuel costs.

"Everything from the way we make the product, to the product itself, is environmentally friendly," said Maxbauer.

Plant Tuff is used by commercial farmers and by homeowners, for their lawns and gardens. Reuben used it on his sunflowers this year and got pretty impressive results.

"All of my sunflowers are taller than the roof of my house," said Maxbauer.

Most of the corn at "Longshot Farms" will be sold overseas to make ethanol, and feed for livestock. So far it looks pretty healthy, despite this summer's extreme heat and drought.

Lee Eggert says, the trace minerals in Plant Tuff work like vitamins from the health food store - and he says a healthy plant is like a healthy person, more productive.

Right now, Plant Tuff is used by commercial farmers in Michigan and the Midwest, but the company is hoping to expand and is working with researchers around the world.