ST. PAUL, Minnesota — Many farmers and applicators will soon apply anhydrous ammonia after harvest. Even amid the rush, safe handling and hauling of NH3 is important.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture offers these safety tips to farmers and applicators.

  • Always wear appropriate goggles and gloves. Never wear contact lenses.
  • Be sure to have a clean, adequate emergency water supply of at least 5 gallons.
  • Exercise caution when making connections and disconnections as if lines contain anhydrous ammonia.
  • Stand upwind when connecting, disconnecting, bleeding lines, or transferring NH3. Also, close, bleed, disconnect, and secure valves and transfer lines when taking breaks or disconnecting lines, and be sure to handle hose end valves by the valve body.
  • Position equipment away and downwind from homes, people and livestock.

Safety is also key to those maintaining anhydrous ammonia equipment. Never assume NH3 lines are empty, always wear proper protective equipment, and have access to safety water.

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Producers should be mindful when applying anhydrous

When towing a nurse tank down the road, drive sensibly, Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Farmers also need to be extra cautious because other drivers are not always careful.

In Crookston, Minnesota, on Oct. 24, firefighters had to respond to an anhydrous ammonia tank that was hit by a car and was leaking, KROX radio reported.

When hauling, do not go any faster than 30 miles per hour, display a slow-moving vehicle (SVM) emblem visible from the rear, and be sure the tank is secured to the tractor or truck with two separate, independent chains that supplement the hitch pin/clip.

If an accident or spill occurs, call 911 and then the Minnesota Duty Officer at 1-800-422-0798 or 651-649-5451.

Fall application of anhydrous ammonia should happen after average soil temperatures reach 50 degrees F or cooler to help prevent nitrogen loss, protects water quality, and ensures more nitrogen will be available for next season’s crop.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has an interactive map to find the current 6-inch soil temperature and the past week’s history.

Under Minneosota's Groundwater Protection Rule, fall nitrogen fertilizer application is prohibited in vulnerable areas of the state. A map of the vulnerable regions of the state can be found on the MDA website.