Safety should always come first during post-harvest anhydrous ammonia (NH3) applications. Accidents involving NH3 have demonstrated the severe risks associated with mishandling this fertilizer. Safety experts offer the following essential tips for farmers, fertilizer dealers, and custom applicators to ensure safe NH3 field applications.
Protective Gear: Always wear NH3-rated goggles and gloves and avoid using contact lenses.
Emergency Water Supply: Maintain a clean and accessible emergency water supply of at least 5 gallons on-site.
Caution with Connections: Exercise extreme caution when making connections and disconnections of NH3 transfer lines, treating them as if they always contain NH3.
Wind Direction: Stand upwind when working with NH3 connections or transferring the substance. Ensure that valves and transfer lines are securely closed and disconnected during breaks.
Safe Positioning: Position NH3 equipment away and downwind from homes, people, and livestock to minimize risks.
Safety remains critical for those responsible for NH3 equipment maintenance, operation of storage facilities, and transportation. Additional safety measures include:
Checking Lines: Never assume NH3 lines are empty and always wear the required protective gear.
Emergency Water: NH3 storage facilities must have a minimum of one open-top container holding 150 gallons of clean, accessible water or an emergency shower with plumbed eyewash. A 5-gallon container of clean water must accompany NH3 nurse tanks.
Safe Towing: When towing a nurse tank, drive sensibly at speeds not exceeding 30 miles per hour, display a slow-moving vehicle (SVM) emblem, and secure the tank with two separate, independent chains.
In the event of an accident or spill, seek medical care, if necessary, immediately dial 911, and then contact the local emergency officials.
Keep in mind that fall NH3 applications should only occur when soil temperatures reach 50 degrees F or cooler to optimize nitrogen utilization for the next crop season.