Warning: Use caution with bulk fertilizers - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Warning: Use caution with bulk fertilizers


DES MOINES (NEWS RELEASE) - Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey encourages farmers to use caution when handling bulk fertilizers and highlighted the regulations farmers must follow when selling fertilizer or making purchases.

"The dramatic volatility seen in fertilizer prices since last year has caused farmers and brokers to look at new suppliers and consider purchasing bulk fertilizer," Northey said.  "It's vital that producers considering these options understand the regulations and are complying with Iowa's applicable laws."

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship licenses fertilizer dealers and inspect products to help protect customers and the environment.  There are several laws and rules a farmer, broker, and dealer must comply with when handling different forms of fertilizer.

Law requires an Iowa Commercial Fertilizer license for anyone that sells, offers for sale or distributes fertilizer or soil conditioners in the state and must pay tonnage fees and ground water fees.

A farmer purchasing fertilizer for personal use does not need an Iowa Commercial Fertilizer License.  Farmers must still purchase from a dealer with an Iowa license.  Iowa farmers cannot sell fertilizer without a license.

"No matter the source or location, anyone selling fertilizer must maintain an Iowa license," Northey added.

Farmers must also follow all laws and rules regarding secondary containment, loading and unloading of liquid and non-liquid bulk fertilizers and placement restrictions of Anhydrous Ammonia storage locations.  As a result, the following regulations apply:

Bulk Dry Fertilizers

  • Fertilizers can be offloaded directly onto the applicator in the field of application,
  • Bulk dry fertilizers must be stored in a totally enclosed building; loading of the fertilizer into the applicator or a tender truck must take place within the building.
  • If the loading/unloading of dry fertilizer does not take place in one of the locations listed above, then an approved load pad is required that meets the specifications of the Iowa Administrative code 21-44.57(2).

Liquid Fertilizers

  • Storage of volumes greater than 5000 gal must have secondary containment. A container or a combination of containers with a volume of 5000 gal or less is exempt
  • Loading and unloading pads are required for those facilities with secondary containment.
  • All secondary containment and loading/unloading pads must have plans drawn by a registered engineer that are in compliance with Iowa Administrative Code 21-44.57(1) and submitted to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

Anhydrous Ammonia storage must comply with the following before installation and use:

  • Anhydrous Ammonia storage tanks must be approved by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship before being brought into the state.
  • A Department inspector must approve the site of the storage container before any application can take place.
  • A proposed Anhydrous Ammonia storage site must also be approved by the local jurisdiction (city or county) before construction.
  • Site plans, plumbing diagram, pier diagrams and documentation of local approval must be submitted with an application and the Department must approve it before construction can begin.
  • Nurse tanks must also comply with all laws and regulations.
  • Permanent Anhydrous Ammonia storage sites must be inspected annually by Department inspectors.

"If you are considering adding on-farm storage of fertilizer or soil conditioner please contact the Department for more information and to make sure you are following all the applicable regulations," Northey said.

To contact the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Feed and Fertilizer Bureau you can reach Terry Jensen, Feed and Fertilizer Bureau Chief, at 515-281-8599 or terry.jensen@iowaagriculture.gov or Kevin Klommhaus, Fertilizer Program Administrator, at 515-242-6338 or kevin.klommhaus@iowaagriculture.gov .

Online Producer: Jason Mortvedt

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