On-farm bulk fertilizer storage reduces price risks

On-farm storage capability offers farmers the flexibility of purchasing fertilizer when prices are most favorable.

Having on-farm storage capability enables farmers to prepay and accept delivery of fertilizers during the off-season when the prices are most economical. Depending on the size of the operation, the industry experts feel that the long term economic benefits of on-farm bulk storage are well worth the time and money invested at the beginning. Fertilizer prices have been very volatile in the past and on-farm storage is a specialized practice that farmers should consider as they become better managers of production risks and cost savings.

Currently the specifications of fertilizer bulk storage are governed by Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) Regulation No. 642. Any operation storing over 2,500 gallons individual quantity or over 7,500 gallons combined total are required to register with the MDA. With dry fertilizer it is 2,000 lbs. The primary and secondary containment rules however, only apply to liquids. The dry fertilizers are excluded from containment rules as long as they are stored inside a building that prevents contact with rain and surface water.

The primary containment rules specify the 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. All these regulations are intended to avoid any potential spill and contamination of the environment.

Please visit MDA’s bulk storage website for all the information you need to get started in bulk fertilizer storage. A list of containment, liners, and/or installation services is also available. Another place to contact is your local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office for further advice and any provisions available through the Farm Bill.

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