With farm chemical supply issues a growing concern, more farmers are buying and storing herbicides this fall for use next spring. But certain storage precautions are necessary over the winter months to keep products safe and to help ensure they don’t degrade and become less effective.
For example, glyphosate and glufosinate, can be stored no colder than 10 degrees F and 32 degrees F, respectively. Check minimum/maximum storage temperatures for pesticides by reading the EPA product label or Safety Data Sheet (http://www.cdms.net/Label-Database).
Kent McGuire, Ohio State University Ag Safety and Health Coordinator, says the first step is to designate one area or a storage cabinet on the farm to store pesticides. They need to be in a dry and cool place away from sunlight and all other products, especially hazardous chemicals. “Access to the area should be locked, especially if there are children around, with posted signs that alert others of pesticide storage,” he stresses.
“Access to the area should be locked, especially if there are children around, with posted signs that alert others of pesticide storage.”
Whether this storage area needs to be climate controlled depends on the variety of products stored and their storage temperatures. Use the EPA product labels and Safety Data Sheets as gospel to gain product safety, storage and usage details. You’ll also learn what to do in case of spills and what absorption materials to have on hand, along with appropriate fire extinguishers. “Items we have in our Ohio State storage areas are on spill pallets to contain any leaks and [we have] spill response kits to clean up any spills,” McGuire says.
When placing products in storage, be sure to keep liquids on the lowest shelves so a leak won’t contaminate dry products. “Also, make it a regular habit every few weeks to check your storage areas for leaks, damaged labels or other issues with containers,” he adds.
Another practice that McGuire recommends is keeping an inventory of your pesticides. “It could be done on a spreadsheet or even as simple as handwritten on paper, then revised as inventory changes. The goal is to track what chemicals you have on hand at a given time, which helps first responders if there’s a potential emergency,” he says.
It’s also a good idea to track the ages of chemicals you have in storage. Age of product inventory, especially given Midwest winter temperature extremes, can challenge formulations. “One of the general rules of thumb that we follow here at Ohio State is that if you haven’t used the product in the last year or two, it’s time to dispose of it properly,” McGuire says. “This helps with inventory management by preventing a large accumulation of unused old chemicals.”
“One of the general rules of thumb that we follow here at Ohio State is that if you haven’t used the product in the last year or two, it’s time to dispose of it properly.”
Some states require a pesticide handling and discharge response plan, such as this template from the South Dakota Department of Agriculture. Check with your state department of agriculture for specifics to ensure your pesticide storage complies.
If you have liquid pesticides that freeze or are subjected to temperatures below the recommended range, they may be less effective. Some products can be thawed naturally at room temperature but you should never use heat or flame. Once the formulation thaws, roll and shake the container to resuspend the components. If crystals are still present after thawing, you should not use the pesticide.
“If you have questions about product efficacy following winter, check with your local retailer or contact the company about product stability,” McGuire adds.
Pesticide Storage and Security – Penn State University
Agricultural Pesticide Storage – Oklahoma State University
Safe Handling of Pesticides on the Farm – Ohio State University
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