NEW YORK (AP) — Fertilizer maker Agrium Inc. said Wednesday that it will spend $1.5 billion to expand annual potash production capacity by 50 percent, helping it meet growing demand for fertilizer.

The company also said it is significantly raising its dividend.

The Calgary, Alberta, company says it is the third largest potash producer in North America. Last year, Agrium produced 1.8 million tonnes of potash. The company expects that expanding its Vanscoy potash facility in Saskatchewan will help it increase total annual capacity to three million tonnes.

Saskatchewan has the world's largest supply of potash, a mineral used to create fertilizers that promote crop growth and improve food production.

Agrium expects to complete the project by the second half of 2014.

Fertilizer makers have benefited from high prices for crops including wheat, corn and soybeans. When farmers are getting higher prices for their products, they're willing to spend more on fertilizer.

Separately, Agrium said Wednesday its board has approved a quadrupling of its semi-annual cash dividend to 22.5 cents from 5.5 cents previously. The dividend will be paid on Jan. 19 to shareholders as of Jan. 1.