For many farmers, the planters have been serviced and the tractors have been prepped and ready to go. However, before they plant they need to make sure the field is ready and will soon be applying anhydrous ammonia (NH3) ahead of the planting season. 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.
Applying anhydrous can be dangerous if the applicator is not following all the safety guidelines. 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.
It is also necessary to travel with anhydrous tanks from one field to the next. 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 does occur, immediately call 911.
You can find more safety, storage, and transportation information on the MDA’s website or check your state’s agriculture department.