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How can fertilizers be stored properly?

Storage for fertilizers
Written by Jaap Lubbersen | Last update: 24-03-2020

Many different kinds of fertilizers are used by horticultural companies. In most cases, harmful components are processed in these fertilizers. Because of this, a correct and safe way of storage is considered crucial. Health problems, personal injuries or even danger of explosion could be the results of incorrect use of these fertilizers. Not all companies are believed to be fully aware of these risks, and because of that not every fertilizer storage situation is correct. Besides, many regulations in terms of fertilizer storage have changed, resulting in many factors that should be kept into account. That is why the most important points of attention are listed by our fertilizer specialist. 



In this article, answers to the following questions are provided:

» How can fertilizers be properly stored?
» How can solid/fixed fertilizers be stored?


Dripping tray

Just like packaged liquid fertilizers, bulk fertilizers are stored in an appropriate storage room. Every form of liquid fertilizer of which the packaging contains more than 50 liters, should be stored on a dripping tray or on a liquid-retaining floor. This in order to make sure, spilled/leaked fertilizers cannot disappear (in the soil for example). Both a liquid-retaining floor and dripping trays are obligated when storing fertilizers. 

A dripping tray is meant to collect spilled or leaked fertilizers. If a dripping tray is used for bulk barrels, a minimal capacity of 850 liters is needed. 
Would you like to know more about how to choose the correct dripping tray? Our fertilizer specialist has provided more information on what points of attention you should keep into account.



Liquid-retaining floor

An obligation for having a liquid-retaining floor was set, because accidents or spilling of fertilizers can always happen. If harmful liquids are spilled, they can be retracted by the concrete, possibly leading to cracks or oxidation of this concrete. This could eventually cause soil pollution. 



Absorption material

Besides, absorption material like garage granules, should always be present in the fertilizer storage room, in case any material leaks and cannot be collected by the therefore appropriate safety measure. 



Separate storage of harmful products

Dangerous gasses, the development of heat and precipitation are three things that could emerge when certain fertilizers start a reaction. When an undesired reaction as such occurs, this is called unintended contamination. The reaction of different fertilizers and what can be done in order to prevent these reactions from happening, are explained by our fertilizer specialist. 


Unloading point

When making use of liquid fertilizers, unloading points are considered inevitable. In the PGS 31 (Dutch regulation concerning the storage of fertilizers), several guidelines for unloading points are explained. 
 


Pipe locked by key

Use of special pipes that are locked by a key, can be used, in order to prevent mistakes from occurring. When these locks are connected to the pipes, a special ‘key’ is needed in order to open the pipe. When the pipe is opened, fertilizers can be added by the supplier. Also make sure, spilled liquid  is always cleaned immediately. Besides, the room of storage should be kept clean and neat.



Warning signals

Warning signals are needed in every fertilizer storage. Potential danger linked to the storage of a certain fertilizer can be indicated by these signals. Moreover, the sign ‘’Fire, open flame and smoking prohibited’’ should be placed in every storage facility. 

In addition, CLP-icons are used to illustrate danger. Every unloading point should be equipped with a CLP-sticker, both on the pipeline and on the barrel. Regularly monitor of the stickers are up to date and in line with the current regulations. 

 



Quality

Along a correct and safe method of storage, the quality of a fixed fertilizer is also dependent on the storage. Therefore, the following points should be kept into account when storing fixed fertilizers: 
  • Temperature
      Liquid fertilizers should not be stored below 7 degrees. However, the temperature should also not be higher than 35 degrees. 


  • Store iron in the dark
      Iron is torn down by UV light. Therefore, it should always be stored in dark packaging and direct contact with sun should be prevented at all times.


  • Preservability of packaging
      An IBC/multi box, barrel or can must be examined and approved every five years. This to make sure the packaging still complies with all regulatory requirements. 


  • Packaging
      The place of storage must be free of any sharp objects, so that damage of the packaging is prevented.


How can fixed fertilizers be stored?

Single fertilizers are produced in the form of crystals. Before the fertilizers are given to the plant, it’s crucial to dissolve the fertilizers first. Sometimes the dissolving process is more difficult, because the nutrients have become solid and clotted. This might ask for more elaborate stirring of the products in the water. The reason for the fertilizer nutrients coagulating, is their hydroscopic characteristic. This means the fertilizing nutrients attract and absorb water in any form and situation. How can you prevent your fertilizers from hardening? In this article, our specialist gives an explanation.



Cause of fertilizers coagulating

The coagulating of fertilizers is caused by the fact that most fertilizers are hygroscopic, meaning water is attracted. The higher the level of humidity in your storage, the higher the chance of hardening and coagulation. Besides the level of humidity, more factors could cause the coagulation of fertilizers. Factors such as temperature, air pressure, the level of humidity within the product, chemical reaction of the product and the duration of storage are often blamed. It is considered crucial for these factors to remain stable. 


Preventing hardening or coagulation of fertilizers

To prevent hardening and coagulation of fertilizers, a storage should be selected carefully along with a correct climate within this space. The duration of storage strongly must be taken into account while purchasing your fertilizers, since it has a large impact on the product’s consistency. In order to do so, make sure to draw up a nutrition scheme for your crop. 


How can solid/fixed fertilizers be stored?

In order to prevent hardening or coagulation of fertilizers, an appropriate room for storage is essential. Several factors that play an important part, are named in the PGS 7: 
  • Cool room
    Mineral fertilizers must be stored in a cool room. This because decomposition of fertilizers happens at a higher temperature (maximum temperature can be found in SDS), which could lead to a release of poisonous components. Also keep in mind, a machine could also be a source of heat, which could affect the fertilizer.

  • Non-humid or dry room
    In reference to mineral fertilizers' hygroscopic character (attracting humidity), the air in the room of storage should be dry. Also, a good ventilation system is needed for this and possible leakages in the room should be monitored regularly and closely. 

  • Separate storage
    Different fertilizers such acids, organic material, chromates, zinc, copper, nickel and cobalt connections should be stored seperately.


  • Do not move
    The granules breaking could be a result of moving the fertilizers. This breaking could possibly lead to the quality worsening. This is why it is recommended to leave the fertilizers where they were put in the first place, as much as possible. 

  • Prevent damaging of packaging
    Damage to the packaging should be prevented at all times. When the packaging of a fertilizer is damaged, water could enter the bag and affect the fertilizer. Therefore, the storage of big bags is always recommended on pallets.


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More information about the storage of fertilizers

Do you have questions about the storage and use of fertilizers or do you want a personal advice? Please contact specialist Jaap Lubbersen by filling in the form below. We will contact you as soon as possible, on work-days within 24 hour. 





Jaap Lubbersen About Jaap Lubbersen

Jaap Lubbersen is an internal crop care product specialist at Royal Brinkman and has had over 13 years of experience in glass horticulture. "As an internal product specialist, I deal with growers' issues on a daily basis. Every time again it is a challenge to seek the proper solution, in cooperation with the grower, whether it is about healthy and vibrant cultivation, legislation or safety."






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