Last updated on October 25th, 2023 at 12:18 pm
High quality fertilizers allow precise and regular spreading, the pillar of efficient fertilization to reach yield and quality objectives. Beyond the chemical composition of fertilizers, it is essential that they have impeccable and stable physical qualities. In order to store fertilizers in the best possible way so as not to alter their effectiveness or stability, Yara provides you with some advice on how to store and handle fertilizer properly.
- 1 Heat and humidity
- 2 Storage
- 3 1. Choose the Right Location
- 4 2. Proper Labeling and Organization
- 5 3. Use Appropriate Containers
- 6 4. Moisture Control
- 7 5. Safety Precautions
- 8 6. Monitoring Expiration Dates
- 9 7. Pest and Rodent Control
- 10 8. Emergency Response Plan
- 11 9. Inventory Management
- 12 Conclusion
- 13 Author
Heat and humidity
Humidity is the main enemy of fertilizer. It causes a physical degradation of the granules, which usually results in a caking phenomenon. Packaging in big bags reduces this risk. The storage on pallets allows to isolate the big-bags from the soil humidity. The integrity of the big-bags isolates the fertilizer from contact with humidity.
Heat is also a source of fertilizer deterioration. The sun’s rays on the big-bags or simply the heat accumulated in a non-ventilated building are enough to make the fertilizer rise in temperature. At 32°C the fertilizer expands; a drop in temperature (at night, for example) returns the ammonium nitrate to its original form. But several repetitions of such a heating-cooling cycle deteriorate the fertilizer. In addition to the poor spreadability of the product, the fertilizer becomes dangerous since it is no longer protected by the film of the granules. It is therefore important to avoid storing big bags of nitrogen fertilizer in full sun during the summer.
Most farmers store big bags under cover. This is a good way to avoid fertilizer degradation but it is not enough: the shelter must allow good air circulation, the big-bags positioned on pallets to isolate them from soil moisture and positioned in a pyramid and staggered. For outdoor storage, Yara advises to store them also on clean pallets without spikes, and to cover the stock with a clear tarpaulin (to limit heat accumulation under the tarpaulin). It is strongly advised to opt for outdoor storage only temporarily, either before storage under cover or for very short term use.
If the fertilizer is delivered in bulk, it should be stored in a dry, clean box in a watertight building and covered with a tarp.
Ammonium nitrate fertilizer is not flammable, under normal conditions of pressure, temperature and when not contaminated, the fertilizer is stable. However, it is important to make sure that the big-bags are not close to combustible materials: straw, seed bags, sawdust, wooden pallets, fuel tanks, oil cans, etc. or agricultural machinery. Fertilizer does not burn, but in case of fire, the proximity of a heat source will cause the big-bags to rise in temperature, provoking a thermal decomposition reaction (smoke and toxic gases that should not be inhaled). High dosage nitrogen fertilizers (N>28) present a risk of detonation under very rare conditions.
Proper storage of fertilizer is essential for both safety and effectiveness. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a novice, following good storage practices is crucial to maintaining the quality and longevity of your fertilizers. In this guide, we’ll explore the best practices for storing fertilizers safely and efficiently.
1. Choose the Right Location
Select a suitable storage location that adheres to safety and efficiency principles:
- Opt for a well-ventilated area to prevent the buildup of fumes and gases.
- Keep the storage area dry to avoid clumping and caking of the fertilizer.
- Choose a cool, stable temperature environment to prevent extreme heat, which can degrade the quality of certain fertilizers.
- Ensure the storage area is secure, keeping fertilizers out of reach of children, pets, and unauthorized personnel.
2. Proper Labeling and Organization
Clear labeling and organization are essential for efficient storage:
- Label each fertilizer container with the product name, type, and application instructions.
- Organize fertilizers by type and purpose to prevent cross-contamination and ensure easy access.
3. Use Appropriate Containers
Invest in the right containers to preserve fertilizer quality:
- Fertilizers should be stored in their original, airtight containers whenever possible.
- If you need to transfer fertilizer to a different container, use one specifically designed for chemical storage.
- Ensure all containers have secure lids to prevent spills and leakage.
4. Moisture Control
Fertilizer quality can be compromised by moisture:
- Use moisture-absorbing materials like silica gel or clay desiccants in storage containers to maintain dry conditions.
- Elevate containers on pallets or shelves to prevent direct contact with the ground, reducing the risk of moisture absorption.
5. Safety Precautions
Prioritize safety in your storage area:
- Store fertilizers away from flammable materials and sources of ignition.
- Keep fire extinguishing equipment nearby and ensure it is regularly inspected and in working condition.
- Wear appropriate personal protective equipment when handling fertilizers, including gloves and safety goggles.
6. Monitoring Expiration Dates
Pay attention to the expiration dates of fertilizers:
- Regularly check the expiration dates on containers and use older fertilizers before newer ones to ensure efficacy.
7. Pest and Rodent Control
Prevent pests and rodents from compromising fertilizer quality:
- Implement pest control measures, such as traps or non-toxic deterrents, to prevent infestations in your storage area.
8. Emergency Response Plan
Develop an emergency response plan in case of accidents or spills:
- Know how to handle accidents, spills, or exposure incidents, and have appropriate cleanup materials on hand.
- Dispose of contaminated materials properly and in accordance with local regulations.
9. Inventory Management
Keep track of your fertilizer inventory:
- Create an inventory system to monitor the quantity of fertilizers on hand and reorder as needed.
- Ensure proper storage rotation to use older products first.
Proper storage of fertilizer is essential for maintaining product quality, safety, and effectiveness. By following these best practices, you can ensure that your fertilizers remain in optimal condition and ready for use in your gardening and agricultural endeavors. Implementing these guidelines not only safeguards your investment but also contributes to safer and more efficient fertilizer management.