Many farmers and applicators will soon apply anhydrous ammonia (NH3) after harvest. Even with a rush against time and the weather, safety should never be compromised. Recent accidents involving anhydrous ammonia have proven how dangerous and deadly the chemical can be when not handled properly.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is providing the following tips to farmers and applicators so they can safely apply anhydrous ammonia.
- Always wear appropriate goggles and gloves. Never wear contact lenses.
- Be sure to have a clean, adequate emergency water supply of at least 5 gallons.
- Exercise caution when making connections and disconnections as if lines contain anhydrous ammonia.
- Stand upwind when connecting, disconnecting, bleeding lines, or transferring NH3. Also, close, bleed, disconnect, and secure valves and transfer lines when taking breaks or disconnecting lines, and be sure to handle hose end valves by the valve body.
- Position equipment away and downwind from homes, people, and livestock.
Safety is also key to those maintaining anhydrous ammonia equipment. Never assume NH3 lines are empty, always wear proper protective equipment, and have access to safety water.
When towing a nurse tank down the road, drive sensibly. Do not go any faster than 30 miles per hour, display a slow-moving vehicle (SVM) emblem visible from the rear, and be sure the tank is secured to the tractor or truck with two separate, independent chains that supplement the hitch pin/clip.
If an accident or spill occurs, immediately call 911 and then the Minnesota Duty Officer at 1-800-422-0798 or 651-649-5451.
You can find more safety, storage, and transportation information on the MDA’s website at www.mda.state.mn.us/nh3.
As a reminder, fall application of anhydrous ammonia should happen after average soil temperatures reach 50 degrees F or cooler to help prevent nitrogen loss, protects water quality, and ensures more nitrogen will be available for next season’s crop.
Under the MDA’s Groundwater Protection Rule, fall nitrogen fertilizer application is prohibited in vulnerable areas of Minnesota due to environmental concerns or risks. View a map of the vulnerable regions of the state.
Allen Sommerfeld, MDA Communications