11/03/2014 13:15


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) and the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association (IFCA) urge fertilizer dealers and farmers to practice both safety and stewardship this fall when applying anhydrous ammonia to prevent accidents and protect water quality.

Anhydrous ammonia is a nitrogen fertilizer that is essential to crop development.  However, when not handled properly, it can cause serious injury and harm the environment. 

The IDOA inspects ammonia storage facilities and ammonia nurse tanks and investigates agricultural-relatedanhydrous ammonia incidents.  Its findings show most accidents could have been prevented.   

"Inadequately managing ammonia hoses, failing to maintain safety devices on tool bars and improperly securing tanks during highway and field transportation are among the leading causes of accidents," Jerry Kirbach, IDOA Bureau Chief of Ag Products Inspection, said.  "These accidents can easily be prevented with proper equipment maintenance and transporting tanks no faster than 25 miles an hour on public roadways."

IDOA and IFCA jointly provide training programs for employees of retail anhydrous ammonia facilities, who are required to be trained every three years.  To address the critical need to improve ammonia safety when farmers are handling the product, a web-based program is available at  This program is free and its development was funded by the Illinois Nutrient Research & Education Council (NREC).

The proper application of the product is just as important as its proper handling to protect water quality and to keep the fertilizer for the crop.  The IFCA and the Illinois Agronomy Handbook advise waiting until soil temperatures drop to 50 degrees at the four inch level and will continue to drop to apply ammonia, as well as stabilizing fall applied ammonia with a nitrification inhibitor to keep it in a non-leachable form throughout the remainder of the fall and into the spring season.  

 "It is the responsibility of the fertilizer industry and our farmer-customers to ensure proper stewardship and nutrient utilization to minimize environmental impact, optimize harvest yield and maximize nutrient utilization," Jean Payne, President of the IFCA, said.  "We also discourage the application of fertilizer on frozen, snow-covered ground and encourage our farmer customers to work closely with their fertilizer dealers on the 4Rs of Nutrient Stewardship:  Right Source, Right Rate, Right Time, Right Place."

More information about ammonia safety and stewardship is posted on the IFCA ( and IDOA ( websites.