Anhydrous ammonia is the preferred source of nitrogen for fall applications because it rapidly absorbs into soil moisture and, typically, has a slower conversion to nitrate. However, anhydrous is a challenging product to work with given safety concerns and special equipment needs.
When harvest is rushed, it may be easy to overlook proper preparedness steps, but skipping them can be detrimental and dangerous. For safe, efficient and successful fall anhydrous applications, follow these preparedness steps:
1. Wear proper PPE
Anhydrous ammonia aggressively seeks out water – and that includes water in your skin, eyes and lungs. Wear personal protective equipment (PPE) including splash goggles, cover all exposed skin (in accordance with the Safety Data Sheet), and keep fresh water readily available should you come in contact with anhydrous.
2. Ensure proper storage and maintenance for tanks and trailers
Anhydrous ammonia must be compressed into a liquid for agricultural application. This compression requires a considerable amount of pressure and equipment such as special tanks and trailers. Ensure equipment is in good condition by checking for dents, thinning or paint issues. Fully empty the tanks and drop the pressure to zero when storing or making repairs.
3. Check hoses, valves and gaskets
Sunlight, kinking, cutting and abrasions shorten the normal service life for hoses. Look for those damages as well as soft spots and fully replace the hose if needed. All anhydrous ammonia valves should 3. be removed from the tank every five years for inspection and service or replacement. Gaskets can swell over time but can be easily and inexpensively replaced when needed.
4. Manage transportation
Accidents from unsafe towing have devastating consequences. When transporting anhydrous ammonia, always follow your state’s specific regulations. It’s a good rule of thumb to travel at or below 25mph and add a slow-moving vehicle (SMV) emblem to your towing assembly to alert other drivers to your speed. And, always use a hitch pin with the safety keeper/retainer clip and two independent safety chains when towing.
5. Careful application
Inspect your equipment prior to each use and be sure to stand upwind when connecting, disconnecting, bleeding lines, or transferring product. Handle valves by the body – not by the wheel or latch. Close, bleed, disconnect, and secure valves and transfer lines when leaving equipment unattended. Finally, park equipment downwind from dwellings, people, and livestock.
In addition to preparing for the safe handling of anhydrous ammonia, it’s important to prepare it for maximum effectiveness too. Applying anhydrous with a nitrogen stabilizer, such as N‑Serve®, helps protect this valuable input from escaping before spring planting. N‑Serve can boost potential yield by keeping applied anhydrous in the root zone when crops need it most.
Do not fall-apply anhydrous ammonia south of Highway 16 in the state of Illinois. Always read and follow label directions.