Crops

Safe storage of farm chemicals protects people & animals

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During National Farm Safety Week, producers are reminded to review their chemical storage procedure. Proper inventory management of farm chemicals saves money and protects animals, people and the environment, says University of Missouri Extension specialist Sam Polly.

“With the cost of pesticides, letting a product degrade in your storage shed is not a mistake anyone can afford to make very many times!” says Polly, who teaches private pesticide applicator training for MU Extension.

Polly shares tips from Purdue University and MU Extension:

Keep an up-to-date inventory of stored pesticides. The shelf life of pesticides varies, but once opened, chemicals begin to break down. Throwing away unused or ineffective product is like throwing away money, he says.

Always follow label instructions for storage and use. Store pesticides in a controlled environment. High temperatures can melt plastic containers, make glass containers explode and cause some pesticides to volatilize. Low temperatures can cause freeze damage. Extreme temperatures can also affect potency and stability.

Keep protective equipment nearby but away from pesticides. Train farmworkers on proper procedures often. In addition to preventive measures, be sure to post emergency telephone numbers in visible locations in case an accident where to occur.

Other tips include:

  • Locate pesticide storage facilities away from people and livestock. Avoid flood-prone areas to reduce risk of contaminating water sources. Make sure the site is protected from severe weather and high winds.
  • Lock storage facilities and post warning signs on doors and windows noting that chemicals are stored inside. Also post a “no smoking” sign.
  • Keep chemicals in their original containers. Choose a well-ventilated area. Store dry chemicals on pallets.
  • Do not store where heat or electricity can spark.
  • Check routinely for rusting containers and signs or labels that are unreadable.
  • Choose a well-lit area so labels can be read and containers can be easily inspected for leaks and corrosion.
  • Close containers tightly to avoid spills, evaporation and cross-contamination. Do not store liquid chemicals above dry chemicals.
  • Rotate older products to the front of the shelf to use first. When switching to a new formulation, use existing inventory first. Use unsealed containers the same season they were opened.

For more safe storage information producers should check out MU’s websites discussing pesticide storage, pesticide training, and the National Pesticide Applicator Certification Core Manual.

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