Prairie manufacturing firm Valmar Airflo, known for its farm-, commercial- and research-grade granular applicator systems, is under new ownership.
Valmar, set up in 1977 at Elie, Man. by farm mechanic, crop duster and inventor Charlie Balmer, has been sold to Ontario seeding and tillage equipment firm Salford Group for an undisclosed sum.
Valmar will continue to make equipment at Elie, about 40 km west of Winnipeg, as Salford’s fifth manufacturing location. The Elie site will also become a parts distribution centre for all Salford Group products, the company said in a release Wednesday.
Salford said it also plans “fresh investment” at Elie to “help expand production capacity and marketing power to make Valmar products more widely available to North American farmers.”
Merging Valmar into Salford “will allow us to offer a complete line of competitively priced seeding and granular application equipment to the grower and service provider,” Salford Group CEO Geof Gray said in the company’s release.
“Salford Group has the capital, additional core expertise and access to markets that will bring Valmar’s existing product lines to more farms in North America and a greater global market,” Valmar president Mercedes Caron said in the same release.
Gray said he also looks forward to seeing “combined strength and resulting synergies” in the design teams from Valmar, Salford’s air cart division, and U.S. spreader manufacturer BBI, which Salford bought last fall.
Valmar’s product lines include granular applicators, fertilizer spreaders and applicators, inoculant applicators, row-crop applicators with inter-row seeders, forage preservative applicators and inter-row banding/broadcast applicators.
Valmar has also designed applicators and high-clearance self-propelled sprayers made and sold under license by companies such as Ag Chem, Lor*al and Willmar, all since absorbed into Agco.
Valmar has a “long history” of combining its Airflo metering technology with other manufacturers’ equipment, Salford said, crediting Indiana farmer Dan DeSutter as the first to pair up Salford and Valmar equipment.
DeSutter, the company said, first used a Salford I-1100 coulter and a Valmar 2455 implement-mounted granular applicator for annual ryegrass seeding in 2007.
Interest in cover-crop seeding has “expanded rapidly” since then, the companies said, and “in response, Salford and Valmar have been steadily increasing their level of co-operation.”
More accurate fertilizer application, nutrient management and cover-crop seeding are becoming mandatory in some regions and considered best practices in most other areas, Caron said.
“Whether these practices are mandated or not, more accurate fertilizer application is saving farmers money and cover crops are improving soil quality by building soil organic matter, adding nutrients to the soil, and reducing erosion and runoff.”
Balmer, she said, “would be proud that his life’s work will continue to grow and serve Canadian farmers, and I am certain he would be honoured that the Salford Group was acquiring this company and taking it to the next level.”
Balmer, who died of cancer in 2006 at age 75, came to Manitoba from Switzerland in 1952 and first developed the Valmar Airflo ground applicator in 1976.
Already a well-known crop-duster pilot and ag mechanic, Balmer came up with the system after being approached by Monsanto to design a metering system for aerial application of granular Avadex. He found that idea “unfeasible” and instead developed an Avadex metering system attachment for high-flotation ground applicators.
His work later earned him an honorary membership in the Canadian Association of Agri-Retailers, and induction in the Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2004. –– AGCanada.com Network