Fertilizer Storage and Handling
Fertilizer storage areas contain concentrated nutrients. This simple checklist will help ensure fertilizers are stored and managed properly.
Fertilizer storage areas contain concentrated nutrients, and these must be stored and managed properly. Risks in storage areas include the release of nutrients due to broken, damaged, or leaking containers; poor security leading to irresponsible use; the accumulation of outdated materials giving rise to the storage of excessive quantities of fertilizer, unnecessarily increasing the risk level; and the combustion of oxidizing compounds in fertilizer (e.g., nitrates) caused by a fire or other disaster. Fertilizers can cause harm if they reach surface water or groundwater.
Checklist: Fertilizer Storage
- Use a building or area dedicated to fertilizer storage. Ensure this is separate from offices, surface water, neighboring dwellings, and bodies of water; separate from pesticides; and protected from extreme heat and flooding. Use a storage area with an impermeable floor with secondary containment, away from plant material and high-traffic areas.
- Keep the building or storage area locked and clearly labeled as a fertilizer storage area. Labels on the windows and doors of the building provide firefighters with information about fertilizers and other products present during an emergency response to a fire or a spill. Ensure that fire extinguishers are present and immediately accessible, as well as emergency contact information.
- Use pallets to keep large drums or bags off the floor. Use shelves with a lip for smaller containers to keep the containers from sliding off easily. Steel shelves are easier to clean than wood if a spill occurs.
- Store acids in areas with an impermeable flooring with all surfaces draining to a neutralization pit, to deal with any spills. Ensure that adequate personal protection equipment is available.
- Make sure there are adequate spill clean-up materials for liquids (e.g., absorbent materials) and solids (e.g., shovel, dustpan, broom, and buckets) within the general area.
- Do not have any food, drink, tobacco products, or livestock feed present in storage areas containing general greenhouse supplies.
- If you plan to store large bulk tanks, provide a containment area large enough to confine 125% of the contents of the largest bulk container. Take extra care with concentrated stock solutions—use secondary containment.
- Open fertilizer bags and boxes with a utility knife (e.g., Stanley knife) or scissors; reseal open containers and return them to storage, keeping them in a dry place.
- Store fertilizers in their original containers unless damaged; ensure labels are visible and legible. Never use food or beverage containers for storage.
- Actively update inventory as you add or remove chemicals from storage and make sure that all materials show the date when they were purchased. Removed these items when out of date, based on the latest advice from environmental protection authorities.
- Ensure there is active mechanical temperature control and no direct sources of heat (sun shining through windows, steam pipes, furnaces, etc.), and adequate ventilation.
- Never store fertilizers inside a well house or a facility containing an abandoned well.
- Provide adequate road access for deliveries and other uses.