Liquid fertilizer and storage regulations

The use of liquid fertilizer in the field crop industry is increasing rapidly. The bulk storage of liquid fertilizer requires primary and secondary containment features as specified in MDARD Regulation No.642.

The use of liquid fertilizers, particularly in the field crop industry, has sharply increased in the recent years. Liquid fertilizers are easier to custom blend and use as starters, pop-ups, broadcast spray, sidedress or foliar applications. As a result, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) estimates that Michigan will have more than 80 million gallons of bulk agricultural storage space in 2013. This is a 35 percent increase from 2012.

If stored improperly, liquid fertilizers pose a high risk to the environment. The MDARD specifications for bulk fertilizer storage are governed by Regulation No. 642. The term "bulk fertilizer storage" applies to a fluid fertilizer stored in a single container with a capacity of more than 2,500 U.S. gallons, or a combined total capacity for all storage containers or tanks at a single location is greater than 7,500 U.S. gallons. This regulation enforces primary and secondary containment on liquid bulk fertilizer storage facilities. The primary containment rules govern the storage tank features, security requirements and minimum distances from water sources. The secondary containment requirements deal with diking and lining materials, operational area containment and emergency discharge response plans. These regulations are designed to avoid any potential spill or leak.

Having on-farm storage capability enables farmers to prepay and accept delivery of fertilizers during the off-season when the prices are most economical. As farmers get more specialized, Michigan State University Extension recommends they should consider installing bulk storage facilities to become better managers of production risks and cost savings. The start-up information regarding bulk fertilizer storage and contact personnel are found in the MDARD website.

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