The Right Mix
The St. Gabriel location is one of the major production sites where Syngenta makes active ingredients for crop protection products.
“We essentially have two functions at the St. Gabriel facility: active ingredient (a.i.) manufacturing and formulations, which involves mixing different a.i.s to create Syngenta products,” says Bert Purgatorio, production manager for formulations at the site. “Some part of this facility is running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to get Syngenta crop protection products where they need to be.”
The facility, which is located on 250 developed acres of a 1,300-acre site in southern Louisiana, employs more than 300 Syngenta staff members and 400 more contract workers. The site includes the world’s largest space for producing atrazine, an a.i. found in popular Syngenta herbicide brands, including AAtrex® 4L, AAtrex® Nine-O®, Bicep II Magnum®, Lexar® EZ and Lumax® EZ. All in all, the facility produces more than 100 Syngenta products, encompassing numerous a.i. families, Purgatorio says. For example, Touchdown® is one a.i. family, with all family members containing glyphosate. Products within this family include Touchdown, Touchdown Total®, Touchdown CT2 and Touchdown HiTech® herbicides.
Finished formulations can be liquid or granular. The plant also produces a technical triazine powder product. While herbicides are the focus at the St. Gabriel site, it also manufactures some insecticides and seed safeners, Purgatorio says.
One of the newest, most innovative products that the facility will formulate and distribute upon EPA registration is Acuron™, a highly anticipated herbicide from Syngenta featuring four a.i.s and three modes of action.
St. Gabriel also produces some crop protection products that are in the form of a capsule suspension. “With a capsule suspension, we encapsulate active ingredients within a tiny capsule that certified applicators can spray like a liquid,” Purgatorio says. “The capsules break, and the products begin working after applicators leave the field, which limits their exposure to these chemicals and helps increase worker safety.”
Due to high demand, several formulations are produced at the site in large tanks. They are then packaged and shipped across the country, and in some cases, around the world, according to a complex schedule overseen by Site Logistics Manager Josie Anderson.
“Getting products out and delivered on time to different parts of the world requires careful and continuous planning,” Anderson says. “The logistics group works closely with the production group, meeting on a weekly basis to determine the production plan on a day-by-day basis. The logistics group then takes those total volume numbers, determines the best pack size (bottles, drums, mini-bulk or bulk), and ships orders by train or truck to their final destinations.”
The trickiest caveat of production, Anderson says, is that St. Gabriel
only stores a minimal amount of finished product on-site, so the facility transports its products almost immediately upon coming off the production and packaging lines. And because these finished formulations go to more than 90 countries, efficient, reliable transportation is key.
"Getting products out and delivered on time to different parts of the world requires careful and continuous planning."
The St. Gabriel site ships formulated Syngenta crop protection products by rail or truck, depending on the packaging and size of the order. According to Anderson, trucks are capable of transporting up to 5,000 gallons, while train cars can handle up to 20,000 gallons.
“On a typical day, the site can load and ship 30 trucks of finished goods,” she says. “In season, more than 100 trucks per day may leave the site. Syngenta has standing contracts with multiple logistics providers to make sure we have access to reliable shipping, so that we can meet customer demand.”
Syngenta regional warehouses quickly receive domestic shipments from St. Gabriel. Products from the facility can arrive in the Midwest in only two days. These warehouses then distribute orders, often to local retailers that deliver products directly to farms.
International shipments usually leave St. Gabriel by truck before being loaded onto large freighters at the Port of New Orleans. Of these shipments, most go to Latin American countries, Anderson notes.
Delivering on a Promise
Because St. Gabriel sometimes ships products across thousands of miles of bumpy roads and choppy waters, all teams at the site understand the importance of packaging and safety.
“We can’t deliver our promise to help farmers grow more if our products aren’t getting to them quickly and dependably, whether they need a couple of ounces or dozens of 900-pound bags of crop protection products,” Anderson says. “If our products are compromised through poor handling or weak packaging and are unable to help growers do their jobs, then we aren’t doing our jobs.”
Despite the harmony between the logistics and formulation units, Purgatorio says the St. Gabriel teams are never satisfied with the status quo.
“The crop protection products manufactured at St. Gabriel impact growers in America and all over the world,” he says. “We’re here to deliver excellent Syngenta products to those who need them. I think we are currently doing that pretty well. But a year from now, we hope to do it quicker, safer and more reliably than ever before, because we never stop looking for ways to improve.”